nectitude

Sometimes rectitude gives way to what-the-hecktitude. There are times when you just can’t even. Your even-canning factory has burnt down to the ground. You don’t want this, don’t want that, especially don’t want that other thing. When the world’s pain-in-the-necktitude has raised your calling-for-the-chequetitude, when your attitude has no more latitude for platitude, you have had a peak in your nectitude.

If this word leaves you fit to be tied, well, that’s fair and square. There’s a connection, you see, between knots and nots. The nect in connect comes from Latin necto, ‘I tie, I bind, I join, I connect, I knot’. But meanwhile there’s nec, which is a shortened version of neque, which means ‘neither, nor, not either, not even’. It shows up in a lot of fixed phrases in Latin that relate to negation: nec procul ‘not far’, nec opinans ‘not aware’, nec recte dicere ‘not speaking politely’ (or ‘not speaking appropriately’ or, basically, ‘shooting one’s mouth off’ – I think the diplomatic euphemism is ‘frank and honest’).

So nectitude may have started life as ‘knotness’, but since knotty can be naughty and not all ties that bind are blest, it burst Hercules-style from the roped tying it and shifted to ‘notness’ – not mere negativity, but frank and honest rejection. What, therefore, is its proper etymology? Well, it’s not really properly formed from nec, but that’s neither here nor there. It is what it is now, and so we may as well cut the Gordian knot and say it’s both one and the other. Because when you’re at peak nectitude, you have no time for nice distinctions.

Also because this is a new old word. You have just been present at its inception. And it has come into the world fully formed at a time when it is much needed.

4 responses to “nectitude

  1. I love your posts as usual. But is nectitude still used?

  2. I like your riff especially with Lain derivation

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