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cacoëthes

or cac·o·e·thes

[kak-oh-ee-theez]
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noun
  1. an irresistible urge; mania.
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Origin of cacoëthes

1555–65; < Latin < Greek kakóēthes, neuter (used as noun) of kakoḗthēs malignant, literally, of bad character; see caco-, ethos
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for cacoethes

cacoethes

noun
  1. an uncontrollable urge or desire, esp for something harmful; maniaa cacoethes for smoking
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Derived Formscacoethic (ˌkækəʊˈɛθɪk), adjective

Word Origin

C16: from Latin cacoēthes malignant disease, from Greek kakoēthēs of an evil disposition, from kakos caco- + ēthos character
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for cacoethes

n.

"itch for doing something," 1560s, from Latinized form of Greek kakoethes "ill-habit, wickedness, itch for doing (something)," from kakos "bad" (see caco-) + ethe- "disposition, character" (see ethos). Most famously, in Juvenal's insanabile scribendi cacoethes "incurable passion for writing."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper