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Fear and Desire. That sounds like the name of some nineteenth-century novel. Instead, it's the theme for this week's words in A.Word.A.Day.

Pick up just about anything under the sun and, if you look long enough, you'll find someone who dreads it. On the other hand, there's also bound to be a person who's crazy about it. No wonder in English there's a word for almost every imaginable phobia and mania. There is one phobia, however, that doesn't apply to the linguaphiles here ... logophobia (fear of words).

erythrophobia (i-rith-ruh-FO-bee-uh) noun

1. Hypersensitivity to the color red.

2. An extreme fear of blushing.

[From Greek erythros (red) + phobia (fear).]

Red screams danger or at the very least inconvenience and annoyance. It's no wonder we do our best to avoid it. Red ink is a sign of trouble in business. Red light stops us in our tracks. Who wants to be caught red-handed?

"Some people blush 20 to 30 times a day. Some blush just thinking about blushing. Some experience such a rush of blood to the face their eyes get bloodshot. ... People with erythrophobia can blush just getting a haircut."
Sharon Kirkey; Canadians head to U.S. for Treatment to Reduce Blushing: Vancouver Sun (Canada); Aug 21, 2004.


My sole inspiration is a telephone call from a director. -Cole Porter, composer and songwriter (1893-1964)

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