What is ‘euphoria’?

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Increase your vocabulary and you’ll make your writing much more precise. That’s why I provide a word of the week. Today’s word: euphoria…

I was flipping through a book on my shelves this week and encountered a favourite word of mine: euphoria. Here is how author Daniel Goleman used it in his bestselling book Emotional Intelligence:

But let that euphoria get out of control to become outright mania, as in the mood swings of manic-depressives, and the agitation undermines the ability to think cohesively enough to write well, even though ideas flow freely — indeed, much too freely to pursue any one of them far enough to produce a finished product. 

What do I like about the word? Perhaps it’s the appearance. Not many English words begin with two vowels. Maybe it’s the unvoiced F sound produced by the PH — also found in my own name, Daphne. Or, possibly, it’s the meaning of the term: a feeling or state of intense excitement and happiness (see photo, above.)

The origins of the word date back to 1727, when it was a physician’s term for “condition of feeling healthy and comfortable (especially when sick).” It came from the Greek euphoros, meaning “bearing well,” from eu “well” and pherein “to carry.” The non-medical definition, now the main one, dates to 1882 and perhaps is a reintroduction.

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