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psychobabble (SIE-ko-bab-uhl) noun

Language laden with jargon from psychotherapy or psychiatry used without much concern for accuracy.

[Coined by journalist Richard Dean Rosen (1949- ). From Greek combining form psycho- (mind) + babble (drivel, blather)].

Here is how Rosen describes the term in his 1977 book "Psychobabble: Fast Talk and Quick Cure in the Era of Feeling" :

"Psychobabble is ... a set of repetitive verbal formalities that kills off the very spontaneity, candor, and understanding it pretends to promote. It's an idiom that reduces psychological insight to a collection of standardized observations, that provides a frozen lexicon to deal with an infinite variety of problems."

"Only a few missteps jar the play's dreamy atmosphere. Unable to resist knee-jerk references to Freud and Jung, Ms. Zimmerman has her actors spout some psychobabble about myths as public dreams, dreams as private myths, and the like." Amy Gamerman, Theater: A Timely Gift of Timeless Ovid, The Wall Street Journal (New York), Oct 10, 2001.

This week's theme: coined words.


Our chief want in life is somebody who shall make us do what we can. -Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)

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