Weird Words For Crazy Urges We’ve All Had

Do it, you know you want to . . .

Manias have to start somewhere—with an irresistible urge, a sudden overwhelming feeling that absolutely, positively cannot be ignored no matter how hard you try. And, once you get the urge, it’s impossible not to do it.

You’ll feel the urge with some of the urge-words lined up here. And, you’ll have the lexicon to describe the feeling the next time it pounces on you unannounced. (Some, though, are really just a little too weird.)

Cacoethes

Mom’s made a gorgeous quadruple-layer coconut cake for the annual family reunion. It’s frosted to perfection and sprinkled with coconut flakes. And, it’s totally off-limits.

Of course, you feel the irresistible urge to do the inadvisable: dive in head first and scarf down a piece of cake. That urge to do the-one-and-only-thing-you-shall-not-ever-do? That’s cacoethes. In Greek, cacoethes literally means “bad disposition.” And, you’ll be in a real bad position when Mom finds out what you did.

Coprolalia

When the paper you’ve spent weeks writing suddenly disappears from your hard-drive, the stream of four-letter terrors pouring forth from your mouth is a symptom of coprolalia, the urge to use obscene language. From the Greek words copro (“dung, filth”) and lalia (“talk, prattle”), coprolalia really takes bad words to the level of excrement.

Echolalia

Echolalia seems to be a tactic irritatingly employed by politicians who don’t want to answer questions with substantive responses. Instead, they feel the urge to echo (or reiterate) the interviewer’s own words (as if saying something new and insightful). The result being: absolutely nothing.

This also happens in regular conversations, when the listener simply repeats the speaker to fill in gaps in conversation: “I’ve recently moved to the area.” “Oh! You’ve recently moved to the area!” Yea . . . this has been established, and a tone of exclamation doesn’t make the repetition any less meaningless.

Nymphomania & Satyriasis

Most everyone knows that nymphomania is the uncontrollable urge in women to have sex. Healthy urges are great, especially when it comes to pleasurable activities. But, in moderation people! Funny that nymphomania is so well known, while satyriasis—the uncontrollable urge in men to have sex—is hardly recognized.

Nymph means “bride” in Greek and a satyr was a goatlike man in Greek myth who loved to party and chase the nymphs. Since ancient times, nymphs and satyrs have been figuring out how to satisfy and control life’s lusty appetites, one nibble and bite at a time.

Cute Aggression

Cute aggression is that feeling you get when you see your cat, fast asleep, stretching out like a little human on its back with its paws curled under its chin (as if holding an imaginary blanket). Your feline is just so freaking cute, you get this weird urge to squeeze it tightly. What you’re feeling is completely natural (and scientifically proven by Yale researchers).

It’s the “you’re so cute I could eat your face” urge.

Trichotillomania

If you’re the type of cute-aggressor who upon seeing a baby sloth wrapped in a rainbow blanket, holding a teddy bear, and smiling at you from inside a teacup—screams “You’re so cute I want to pull out all my hair, eyelashes, and nose hair!”, you suffer from both cute aggression and trichotillomania. In Greek, thrix means “hair” and tillein “to pull.”

Now, we’re being entirely facetious with our example, so let's sober up a minute. Trichotillomania is a medical condition first studied in the late 1800s. The urge to pull out one’s hair is a type of impulse-control disorder; such disorders are important to remember as we talk about urges. Most people have no trouble controlling their impulses, but some truly suffer from a lack of control, and that's not a laughing matter.

Wanderlust

You’re sitting in your office cubicle, managing bites of snack-machine grub in between phone calls and emails, and the sudden warmth of an aha moment hits you: It’s time to get out and head to warmer climates. Aruba, Cancun, Sharm el-Sheikh, Goa—"goa" anywhere!

Wanderlust—the burning desire to travel the world—has cast its glowing rays upon you.

Tarantism

Also known as the urge to hug tarantulas. Nah, we’re just fooling.

Tarantism is the uncontrollable urge to dance . . . with a tarantula. Ok, we need to stop, otherwise you won’t trust us anymore. No, the urge is merely to dance. Period. And, sometimes that urge can turn into a mania.

For a couple centuries in Renaissance Italy, tarantism overtook those Italians. Although, this urge to dance wasn’t rhythmically-driven; people recognized the dance fever as a symptom of poisonous bites from wolf spiders.

But, what about choreomania?

Choreomania is actually "dance madness," and it's what happens when tarantism gets really out of control. Want to check out some other manias that go beyond the mere urges we talked about here? Check out these mad habits that are hard to break.

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