Word: affluenza

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Thu Dec 12 19:38:46 UTC 2013

Ben Zimmer sent a message to the ADS list in 2006 that pointed to
"Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year 2006" which discussed two
senses of "affluenza". (Sorry I did not mention this in the previous


[Begin excerpt]
The Committee would like to give honourable mention to:

noun the dissatisfaction that accompanies consumerism as a path to happiness.

The definition which seems current for the rest of the world is 'the
psychological malaise suffered by wealthy young people with symptoms
of lack of motivation and feelings of guilt'. In Australia the meaning
has been generalised to cover a widespread social phenomenon, not just
a malaise of the rich.

The Committee felt that this word framed a concept that was
significant in the community and for which there was no other word.
The coinage was neat, almost too neat, and, unlike many attempts at
creating new words by blending, did lead to a reasonable grasp of the
meaning from an analysis of its parts (affluent + influenza).
[End excerpt]


On Thu, Dec 12, 2013 at 2:32 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole
<adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Word: affluenza
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> The term "affluenza" was used in several news articles today.
> Date: December 12, 2013
> Website: Los Angeles Times
> Article title: Texas teen's probation for killing 4 while driving
> drunk stirs anger
> Author: Michael Muskal
> http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-texas-teen-drunk-driving-probation-affluenza-20131212,0,61486.story
> [Begin excerpt]
> A defense psychologist called it “affluenza,” a syndrome that keeps
> someone from a wealthy background from learning that bad behavior has
> consequences.
> [End excerpt]
> There have been multiple attempts to assign this term constructed via
> wordplay an enduring meaning. It was used as a documentary title in
> 1997,
> Affluenza (1997)
> http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0475060/
> [Begin excerpt]
> TV Movie  -  56 min  -  Documentary  -  15 September 1997 (USA)
> A look at the rampant materialism consuming America.
> [End excerpt]
> Periodical: Business Today
> Year: 1993
> Volume 2, Issues 9-16, Page 128
> (Google Books Snippet View Only; Data may be inaccurate. The same
> definition is given in: 1988, International Management, Volume 43,
> Page 30 according to GB)
> [Begin extracted text]
> BUSINESS TODAY presents its favourite business buzzwords: AFFLUENZA
> That nauseous, guilty feeling that creeps up on people who make more
> money than they think they are worth. Said to be rampant among
> MBA-holders and all stripes of yuppies.
> [End extracted text]
> Year: 1984
> Periodical: Mademoiselle
> Volume 90
> Issues 10-12
> (Google Books Snippet View Only; Data may be inaccurate)
> [Begin extracted text]
> In fact, researchers who have studied the wealthy say they're often
> victims of an illness all their own, "affluenza."
> John Levy, director of the C.G. Jung Institute in San Francisco, has
> described this psychological syndrome found in some children of the
> rich. The symptoms include lack of motivation and self-discipline
> (some wealthy people have trouble committing themselves to any goal);
> boredom; suspiciousness (believing that their friends like them only
> for their money); low self-esteem; and guilt over their wealth.
> [End extracted text]
> Garson
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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