decathect (v)

The word of the day for, January 16, 2018.

  1. to withdraw one’s feelings of attachment from (a person, idea, or object), as in
    anticipation of a future loss: He decathected from her in order to cope with her
    impending death

    Related to imposter syndrome.

Decathect is an extremely rare word in English, used only in Freudian psychology. It is
formed from the common prefix de-, signifying privation or removal, and the very rare
verb cathect “to invest emotional energy.” Cathectis a derivative of the adjective cathectic (from Greek kathektikόs “capable of holding or retaining”), from the noun káthexis
“holding, possession,retention.” The English noun cathexis is an arcane translation or
partial translation of Sigmund Freud’s Besetzung, a common, ordinary word in German meaning “(military) occupation, cast (of a play),” from the verb besetzen “to
occupy, stock, fill.” Decathect entered English in the 20th century.


haecceity (n)

Latin: “thisness”

From Wikipedia:

“Haecceity” (/hɛkˈsiːɪti, hiːk-/; from the Latin haecceitas, which translates as “thisness”) is a term from medieval scholastic philosophy, first coined by followers of Duns Scotus to denote a concept that he seems to have originated: the discrete qualities, properties or characteristics of a thing that make it a particular thing. Haecceity is a person’s or object’s thisness, the individualising difference between the concept “a man” and the concept “Socrates” (i.e., a specific person).

Not to be confused with “quiddity,” which is a thing’s whatness.

autological (adj.)

From German autologisch, from Ancient Greek αὐτός (autós, “self”) + λόγος (lógos, “word”).

An autological word (also called homological word or autonym) is a word that expresses a property that it also possesses (e.g. the word “short” is short, “noun” is a noun, “English” is English, “pentasyllabic” has five syllables, “word” is a word). The opposite is a heterological word, one that does not apply to itself (e.g. “long” is not long, “monosyllabic” has five syllables, “German” is not a German word). The world “neologism” was once autological, but now that it is no longer a new word, it is no longer autological.

The opposite of an autological word is a heterological word.  Whether or not “heterological” is in fact a heterological word or an autological word is a paradox.

paradigm (n)

Very commonly “paradigm shift” or “paradigmatically.”

The OED provides us many definitions, for example:

“A conceptual or methodological model underlying the theories and practices of a science or discipline at a particular time; (hence) a generally accepted world view.”


“paradigm shift n. a conceptual or methodological change in the theory or practice of a particular science or discipline; (in extended sense) a major change in technology, outlook, etc.”

which are more or less reflective of the many pretentious and obfuscating ways this word has been employed in academic writing, but for almost all purpose, one should best understand this word as a fancy synonym for


farniente (n)

French for idleness, or literally, do-nothing. Originally from Rousseau, who rejoices in idleness, or his “precious far niente.”

Heinrich Meier in On the Happiness of the Philosophic Life, claims the phrase “refers to an activity of a unique sort… a ‘delightful and necessary pursuit of a man who has devoted himself to idleness.”

Meier notes that Rousseau’s first use of the term is within the context of “not having to read and write.” This is a sentiment we here at Grad School Vocab understand profoundly.

intrinsic (adj)

Or most commonly, intrinsically (adv) meaning “belonging to the very nature of a thing.”

1480-90; < Medieval Latin intrinsecus inward (adj.), Latin (adv.), equivalent to intrin- (int(e)r-, as in interior + -im adv. suffix) + secus beside, derivative of sequī to follow

A word that is tremendously overused, often redundantly, i.e., “intrinsic nature.” Suffers from the problem of employing the word “nature” in its definition, whatever that word means.  Etymologically, we see an interesting logic: intrinsic means “inside” and “beside,” the extrapolation here being that something that is both inside a thing and beside a thing is fundamentally a part of its “nature.”

Very closely related to “fundamentally.”