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  • Paul Anthony Jones


(n.) a love of or devotion to trivial things

perfectly ordered books, origin of nugaemania

Nugae was a Latin word for jokes, japes, and other nonsensical trivialities, and from there English has adopted a collection of eminently words to do with similarly throwaway concerns. So something described as nugatory is of little real value. A nugament is an unimportant object or task. And English has even picked up a Latin stock expression, nugae difficiles—literally “difficult trifles”—to describe what the Oxford English Dictionary astutely defines as “difficult but trivial matters, over which a disproportionate amount of time may be taken.” (Nugae difficiles, then, is essentially an impressively classical reminder that we shouldn’t sweat the small stuff.)

If you’re the kind of person whose life or spare time is happily dedicated to unimportant fripperies and simple trivialities, then there’s a word for you too: you’re a nugaemaniac.

Alas, that word also has a somewhat less frivolous side. Nugaemania can be used to refer to an overbearing obsession with things of little consequence. So if you’re the kind of person who can’t sleep at night until your bookshelf is alphabetized, or the washing up is dried and put back in the cupboards—or if you’re the kind of person for whom the slightest of niggling issues become blown out of all proportion—then you too are a nugaemaniac.

If any of that sounds familiar, though, how about bearing the word nugifrivolous in mind? As the OED defines it, it describes someone who is “free or available for frivolous trifling”. So if you’ve got time to worry about pointless problems, then surely you’ve got time spare to indulge in some frivolous pastime instead?

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