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This week's theme: There is a word for it.

parrhesia (puh-REEZ-i-uh) noun

1. Boldness of speech.

2. The practice of asking forgiveness before speaking in this manner.

[From New Latin, from Greek, from pan (all) + rhesis (speech).]

From political leaders to business heads, very few like to face the truth. Some claim to want candor but follow the dictum of filmmaker Samuel Goldwyn who said, "I want everybody to tell me the truth, even if it costs them their jobs."

If you're not entirely sure about your boss, we recommend starting with parrhesia (sense 2), before giving in to parrhesia (sense 1). Preface your opinion of how pin-headed your supervisor's idea is, with:

With all due respect ...
If I may be so bold ...

-Anu Garg (garg AT wordsmith.org)

"But the Greek philosopher's intellectual honesty and contrariness were his downfall. 'Socrates says, parrhesia is the cause of my unpopularity,' [Cornel] West noted, citing Plato's book 'The Republic'."
David Alire Garcia; What This Nation Needs Is Some Plain Talk; Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico); Jul 27, 2003.


I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy. -Rabindranath Tagore, philosopher, author, songwriter, painter, educator, composer, Nobel laureate (1861-1941)

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