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

velleity (vuh-LEE-i-tee) noun

Volition at its faintest.

[From Latin velle (to wish), ultimately from Indo-European root wel- (to wish, will) which is also the ancestor of well, will, wealth, wallop, gallop, voluptuous, and voluntary.]

See more usage examples of velleity in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

Finally, a word to describe a few of those things we can't wait to do: filling out tax forms, for example.

Velleity is volition at its weakest. It's a mere wish or inclination, without any accompanying effort. But who could tell just by looking at the word?

So next time you're late in filing your tax return and the tax department sends a reminder, just send them a polite letter vouching for your velleity. The taxman will think the check (or cheque, as our Canadian grammar guru Carolanne Reynolds would write) is coming soon and you've been completely forthright.

-Anu Garg (garg AT wordsmith.org)

"Croatia briefly mouthed velleities about inviting the Serbs to return. But last week, Croatia's President, Franjo Tudjman, expressed his true sentiments." Roger Cohen; Finally Torn Apart, The Balkans Can Hope; The New York Times; Sep 3, 1995.


In some circumstances, the refusal to be defeated is a refusal to be educated. -Margaret Halsey, novelist (1910-1997)

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