Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for December 18, 2020 is:

idiopathic • id-ee-uh-PATH-ik  • adjective

1 : arising spontaneously or from an obscure or unknown cause : primary

2 : peculiar to the individual


“Konnikova is a popular psychology writer…. Her interest was sparked by the unfairness of life—idiopathic illness striking at random, her husband’s start-up failing, and so on.” — Hermione Eyre, The Spectator, 27 June 2020

“There are a number of reports of individuals who have developed an idiopathic (unexplained) inability to sweat during military and extreme training.” — Adam Taylor, The Independent (UK), 19 Nov. 2019

Did you know?

Idiopathic joins the combining form idio- (from Greek idios, meaning “one’s own” or “private”) with -pathic, a form that suggests the effects of disease. The combining form idio- is typically found in technical terms. Examples include idiographic, meaning “relating to or dealing with something concrete, individual, or unique”; idiolect, meaning “the language or speech pattern of one individual at a particular period of life”; and idiotype, meaning “the molecular structure and conformation of an antibody that confers its antigenic specificity.” A more common idio- word is idiosyncrasy, which most commonly refers to an unusual way in which a person behaves or thinks, or to an unusual part or feature of something.

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