Ah, spelling! Four years ago years ago I came across hippocracy, an obvious misspelling for hypocrisy. Curious, I did an Internet search at the time for hippocracy and turned up over 8,000 hits. I tried the search again recently and got 17,900 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.’

Autocracia/autocracy ‘rule by one person.’

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.’

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. sedge808
    Dec 10, 2014 @ 21:28:41

    “It is a type of government where hippos run the country.” lol


  2. shoreacres
    Dec 12, 2014 @ 22:02:09

    I’m sitting here reading, nearly at the end of an estimable St. Arnold Christmas Ale, and am tempted to tell you the full story of my encounter with the gatekeeper at Garner State Park. If I’d had two ales, I might.

    Suffice it to say I nearly was undone by the bureaucratic nit-picking: From the looks I got from friends who were with me, I might as well have grown two heads. But, all was well that ended well. My comment to the bureaucrat — “Just think of this as practice for Obamacare” — made everyone laugh, and things were resolved.

    My first thought when I saw the title was of the Hippocratic oath. That kind of Hippocracy might be ok.


    • Steve Schwartzman
      Dec 12, 2014 @ 22:49:41

      Along the lines of all’s well that ends well, your comment ended well with your homage to Hippocrates, whose oath supersedes any you might have been tempted to utter at Garner State Park.


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©2011–2016 Steven Schwartzman
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