This word inspires in me a fleeting wish to seek out music sung by Elise Velle. Others my be more inclined to muse on acts of villainy or levity. But their lives lack vitality who linger at the level of velleity, which is veiled volition – a wisp of a will, a thought sans thelemite. The crossbow of desire is furnished, but velleity does not give the order to level it. That obscure object of desire, be it elle or it, notches in at v and takes root at y, but does the root lead to germination or does it wither on the vine? The e‘s are like heavy-lidded eyes, but is the ll a nose for business or simply a chimney through which impetus goes up in smoke? Thus the native hue of resolution is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought, and, as those condemned by Rousseau, we mistake velleity for resolve. This word has come to us little changed from Latin; its root is velle, verb: “will, wish.” Its euphony lives at the lips and alveolar ridge. It is pretty, perhaps, but rarely seen in action.

3 responses to “velleity

  1. Lovely, just lovely! I came across this post while researching velleity for an occasional “Word of the Day” column I write at Not a word one comes across every day!

    One small point: Having come across the same quote, “mistaking velleity for resolve” was used *against* Rousseau by James Russell Lowell:

    Keep up the good work!

  2. Oh, sod, you’re right; I misread the citation in the OED.

    Thanks for your kind words!

  3. Pingback: vellicate « Sesquiotica

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