Ah, spelling! This morning I came across hippocracy, an obvious misspelling for hypocrisy. Curious, I did an Internet search for hippocracy and turned up over 8,000 hits. Not surprisingly, a fair number were examples of the same mistake. In a different vein, one writer asked “What is hippocracy?” Answering his own question, he went on to say “It is a type of government where hippos run the country.” Another writer, more aware of etymology, explained that hippocracy would mean ‘rule by horses,’ with the first element coming from Greek hippos ‘horse’ and the second from -kratia ‘power, might, authority.’ We recognize that second component in various compounds, including:

Democracia/democracy ‘rule by the people.’

Teocracia/theocracy ‘rule by God [or people claiming to rule according to God’s principles].’

Plutocracia/plutocracy ‘rule by the wealthy.’

Perhaps the one that affects modern life the most is burocracia/bureaucracy, which causes us to be caught up in offices and the paperwork emanating from them. In contrast to rule by burócratas/bureaucrats, who are often incompetent, is meritocracia/meritocracy ‘rule by people of merit and ability.’

© 2010 Steven Schwartzman

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: hipopótamo « Spanish-English Word Connections
  2. Trackback: places to go 1.16.10 | frame of nature
  3. Trackback: hipopótamo | Spanish-English Word Connections
  4. Jim in IA
    Dec 16, 2014 @ 17:11:36

    My nephew, who has always had anger issues, accused my dear wife of hypocrisy as a result of a facebook exchange recently. I wrote him back, defended her, told him his behavior was wrong, and pointed out how his own actions were the best definition of hypocrisy.

    We are now both on his sh** list. I hold my head high as I ride away on my hippos.


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©2011–2018 Steven Schwartzman

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