or cac·o·e·thes

[ kak-oh-ee-theez ]
/ ˌkæk oʊˈi θiz /


an irresistible urge; mania.

Origin of cacoëthes

1555–65; < Latin < Greek kakóēthes, neuter (used as noun) of kakoḗthēs malignant, literally, of bad character; see caco-, ethos Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cacoethes

British Dictionary definitions for cacoethes


/ (ˌkækəʊˈiːθiːz) /


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

Word Origin for cacoethes

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



"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."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper