Word of The Day for Sunday, February 13, 2011


Pick•wick•i•an (pik-WIK-ee-uhn)  adj

1. simple and kind
2. meant or understood in an idiosyncratic or unusual way; in a sense other than the obvious or literal one
3. of, relating to, or resembling Mr Pickwick in The Pickwick Papers

Pickwickianly adverb

1836; After Samuel Pickwick, a character in the novel Pickwick Papers (serialized 1836-1837) by Charles Dickens.

Sentence Examples:
• Friends of Russia here think of the dictatorship of the proletariat as merely a new form of representative government, in which only working men and women have votes, and the constituencies are partly occupational, not geographical. They think that "proletariat" means "proletariat," but "dictatorship" does not quite mean "dictatorship." This is the opposite of the truth. When a Russian Communist speaks of dictatorship, he means the word literally, but when he speaks of the proletariat, he means the word in a Pickwickian sense.  -The Practice and Theory of Bolshevism, Bertrand Russell

• Daniel was no otherwise Laureate than his position in the queen's household may authorize that title. If ever so entitled by contemporaries, it was quite in a Pickwickian and complimentary sense. -Atlantic Monthly, 1858

• The mellow fervency of John's "With all my worldly goods I thee endow"--must be taken in a Pickwickian and Cupidian sense. - The Secret of a Happy Home, Marion Harland

Why This Word:

Mr Pickwick is known for his simplicity and kindness. In the novel Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Blotton call each other names and it appears later that they were using the offensive words only in a Pickwickian sense and had the highest regard for each other.
Another term that arose from the book is Pickwickian syndrome, which refers to a combination of interlinked symptoms such as extreme obesity, shallow breathing, tiredness, sleepiness, etc. The character with these symptoms was not Mr. Pickwick, but Fat Joe, so the term is really coined after the book's title. The medical term for the condition is obesity-hypoventilation syndrome.

Sources: Free Dictionary, Wordsmith

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