Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
July 26th, 2015
Episode 268 of 790 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 26, 2015 is: abulia \ay-BOO-lee-uh\ noun : abnormal lack of ability to act or to make decisions Examples: "Abulia is a motivational deficit that is associated with apathy, loss of will, and lack of initiating behaviors." Handbook of the Neuroscience of Language, 2008 "The remoteness of the country house made him feel isolated and displacedfeelings that worsened his abulia and melancholyso he decided to move back closer to town, where he felt more at home." Adam Sobsey, Independent Weekly (Durham, North Carolina), March 7, 2007 Did you know? "I must have a prodigious quantity of mind," Mark Twain once wrote. "It takes me as much as a week, sometimes, to make it up." The indecision Twain laments is fairly common; only when inability to make decisions reaches an abnormal level does it have an uncommon name: abulia. The English term we use today comes from a New Latin word that combines the prefix a-, meaning "without," with the Greek word boulē, meaning "will." Abulia can refer to the kind of generalized indecision that makes it impossible to choose what flavor ice cream you want, though it was created to name a severe medical disorder that can render a person nearly inert.