Word for Wednesday: Narcissist

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Our Word for Wednesday theme for June is words that derive from Greek mythology. Over the last few weeks, we’ve looked at the words atlas, chaos, and mentor. Today’s word is narcissist.

A narcissist is someone who has an exceptional interest in or admiration for themself. Here is narcissist used in some example sentences:

  • If you are a narcissist, it means you are self-centred.
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde is about a narcissistic young man.
  • Could you stop being such a narcissist and talk about someone except yourself?

The word is named for Narcissus who, known for his arrogance, was tempted to a pool by the spirit Nemesis. There he fell in love with his own reflection, and not realising it was merely an image, reached towards it and drowned. Nemesis, which means enemy, is another word from Greek mythology that is used in English today.

Narcissist, built from ‘narcissism’ and the suffix ‘-ist’, dates to 1919, while the word ‘narcissism’ itself dates to 1905. It entered English via the German 'Narzissismus' which was coined by the psychiatrist Paul Näcke. Narcissus from the story has been seen as a personification of self-love since 1767. 

22 Jun 2022
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