laconic

This word’s current flavour of meaning is undoubtedly influenced to some extent by echoes of lax, lethargic, lacklustre, and perhaps lazy. There might even be a bit of a yawn in the central con. On the other hand, conic and its phonetic sibling comic don’t seem to have played into the mood much. Art history and aethetic philosophy types might (like Lessing) muse on the sublime suffering of Laocoon, but the classicists will more likely head straight to the Peloponnesus (we’ll get to that). Ask people what image this word brings to mind and it’s a pretty good bet it’ll be one of those strong, silent cowboy types – some might think of the Clint Eastwood or John Wayne types, while others might have a lazier layabout type in mind, but always it’s someone who speaks as though every word costs a dollar. The equivalent of those cowboys in ancient Greece was the Spartans, and in particular the Lacedaemonians (aka Laconians). They didn’t talk much. Too busy fighting, I reckon.

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