05 March 2009


I have until today rejected this word as invalid, a piece of trash contrived by the ignorant to substitute for "apathetic," "lazy," or "unconcerned." Derived from what seemed to me to be a delightfully Elizabethan "lack-a-daisy," or "lack-a-day," I looked down upon lackadaisical as an abominable construction.

This morning, however, reading "Cadets -- On not flying in the Royal Air Force," by Paul West, in Harper's Magazine of January 2009, I find myself nonplussed. This short memoir of Mr. West's cadet training on the Isle of Man in 1954 is one of the very best pieces of writing I've ever encountered. His use of language is nothing less than masterful. And he uses lackadaisical, thusly:

"One pressed on through a maze of ... tests concocted by lackadaisical but implacable Flying Officers with degrees in nonliterary subjects ..."

And so, as I have so many times before and will many times again should I be blessed with more time Alive, I must admit that I was wrong. This is a word, a fine word, a word rooted deeply in my native tongue.

Please read this treatment in the alphaDictionary.com, and I shall go and (perhaps) sin no more.


lackadaisical lack`a*dai"si*cal (l[a^]k`[.a]*d[=a]"z[i^]*kal),
a. [From Lackadaisy, interj.]
1. Affectedly pensive; languidly sentimental; dreamy.
[1913 Webster]

2. Lacking spirit or liveliness; lethargic; listless;

3. Indolent; lazy; idle, especially in a dreamy manner.
[PJC] -- Lack`a*dai"si*cal*ly, adv.
[1913 Webster]

-- From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48

adj 1: lacking spirit or liveliness; "a lackadaisical attempt"; "a
languid mood"; "a languid wave of the hand"; "a hot
languorous afternoon" [syn: dreamy, languid, languorous]
2: idle or indolent especially in a dreamy way; "she was
annoyingly lackadaisical and impractical";
"a...lackadaisical, spiritless young man-about-town"-

-- From WordNet (r) 2.0

119 Moby Thesaurus words for "lackadaisical":
Micawberish, apathetic, ataractic, backward, benumbed, blase,
bored, careless, casual, cold, cool, dallying, dead, debilitated,
degage, delaying, devil-may-care, dilatory, dillydallying,
disinterested, dispassionate, disregardful, dopey, dormant, droopy,
drugged, dull, easy, easygoing, emasculated, enervated, exanimate,
faineant, foot-dragging, free and easy, heavy, hebetudinous,
heedless, idle, inactive, inanimate, inattentive, incurious,
indifferent, indolent, inert, inexcitable, insouciant, jaded,
laggard, lagging, languid, languishing, languorous, lax, lazy,
leaden, lethargic, lifeless, limp, lingering, listless, loitering,
lukewarm, lumpish, mindless, moribund, negligent, nonchalant, numb,
offhand, passive, perfunctory, phlegmatic, pococurante, pooped,
procrastinating, procrastinative, procrastinatory, reckless,
regardless, remiss, romantic, sated, sentimental, shuffling, slack,
sleepy, slothful, slow, sluggish, somnolent, spiritless, stagnant,
stagnating, stultified, supine, tepid, torpid, turned-off,
unanxious, uncaring, unconcerned, undiscriminating, unemotional,
unenthusiastic, unexcitable, unexcited, unimpressed, uninspired,
uninterested, unmindful, unmoved, unsolicitous, vegetable,
vegetative, wan, weary, world-weary

-- From Moby Thesaurus II by Grady Ward, 1.0

1 comment:

  1. Lovely, magical memory of the nun who used to throw chalk at us in school and call us all "lackadaisical gondoodles" - cheers, for this Eric.