I recently ran across the word lustworthy applied to a camera lens rather than something more conventionally voluptuous, but I was reading Popular Photography, so what can you expect? In any case, etymology is something readers of this blog lust after, so let’s do it. Relatives of native English lust exist in other Germanic languages, including German Lust, which means ‘pleasure, delight, amusement, inclination.’ English, but apparently not Spanish, has borrowed the German compound Wanderlust ‘urge to travel.’

The underlying Indo-European root is *las-, which the American Heritage Dictionary glosses as ‘to be eager, wanton, or unruly.’ One descendant of that root in Latin was lascīvus, which meant ‘lustful, playful,’ and which is the source of lascivo/lascivious. The corresponding abstract noun in Latin was lascīvia, which Spanish has carried over unchanged. (Note that someone in Spain will pronounce both the s and the ci [θi], whereas Spanish speakers in the Americas will not pronounce the c.) English, on the other hand, has turned lascivious into the noun lasciviousness. Whether any lascivious English speakers would ever lust after the fancy word lasciviousness is an open question.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. shoreacres
    Sep 03, 2014 @ 22:36:24

    I’ve never come across “lustworthy,” but a quick search showed it being used pretty commonly for electonic gadgets. Camera gadgets, too. It won’t be long before cooking magazines will be using it.

    Wanderlust is a word I use a good bit, since I often suffer from the condition. Unfortunately, the news is a reminder that bloodlust is out there, too.

    As for “lascivious,” I come across that quite often, but always paired with its good friend, “lewd.” It pops up in police reports, court dockets, and such as a legal term. I didn’t realize that some states, like Florida and Kansas, have the phrase codified. Apparently other states don’t make use of it any more, but I don’t know if they’ve come up with a more artful term.


    • Steve Schwartzman
      Sep 04, 2014 @ 02:53:09

      I’ll take your word for it that electronic gadgets are pacesetters in terminology for cooking, something I wasn’t aware of. Bloodlust is something I’m all too aware of, alas, but the word, if not the practice, is a good addition to this post.

      I’ve heard the phrase “lewd and lascivious,” which I take to be an example of both a doubled-up legalism like “cease and desist” and an alliteration like the currently popular “whole host,” in which the first word is unnecessary. (Similarly, in current jargon all solutions must be labeled either creative or viable: just solving a problem isn’t enough anymore.)


      • shoreacres
        Sep 04, 2014 @ 07:12:29

        Here’s another one. No self-respecting Ham radio operator would say “over and out.” It’s one or the other. Combining the words makes no sense, despite their common use in films and tv.


        • Steve Schwartzman
          Sep 04, 2014 @ 08:21:40

          That’s a good one, and one I’d never thought about. Another myth perpetuated in movies and films for decades is that if two people are talking on the phone and one hangs up, the other immediately hears a dial tone.


  2. kathryningrid
    Sep 10, 2014 @ 13:33:27

    Good choice for a post here. After all, knowledge is among the most lustworthy of all things.


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©2011–2016 Steven Schwartzman
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