This solitary word appears in a margin of one page of my current (5-year span) gradebook. When I wrote it down, or what the context was, or even what course the writer was taking I cannot say. Most likely this is from a first-year student, since their writing topics tend toward social issues rather than literary criticism. But lacking a context of any kind, I can say nothing much about the writer’s intent.
Oh, certainly I knew she meant “hypocrisy,” and I sympathize with anyone who has trouble spelling that, since it seems so strange on the page. I used to look it up almost every time I had to write it, until I taught myself simply to make sure what I wrote “looked wrong”: that more or less guaranteed that I had made the correct spelling choices.
In fact, using various “ends-in” sites just now I have been able to find no other word that ends in -crisy, unless I count “acrisy,” offered by one site but not recognized by my friend Mr. Webster. No wonder “hypocrisy” looks so wrong.
On the other hand, asking litscape.com for words ending in -crACy yields FIFTEEN words: to wit, “aristocracy autocracy bureaucracy democracy gerontocracy hierocracy meritocracy mobocracy monocracy ochlocracy pantisocracy plutocracy stratocracy technocracy theocracy.” And thus my joy in my student’s word…
…because we ALL know that the suffix “cracy” means “form or philosophy of government” or “rule by a particular group,” the group being defined by the root word. An aristocracy is a government by aristocrats. A bureaucracy is a government by bureaucrats. A democracy is government by the demos, or people, or by democrats, those who favor rule by the people. A theocracy is a government by gods or their representatives.
So a hypocracy must be a government by hypos…or by hypocrites, no? Although I guess we’d have to call them “hypocrats” in order to conform to the pattern of the other -cracies.
“Hypo”by itself means “under,” but I doubt that a hypocracy would be a government by underlings; it might be a government by people who are somehow undercover, though—concealing their true selves under some charade or façade. There’s a word for that: “hypocrite,” which, as Webster says, is “one who affects virtues or qualities he does not have,” someone practicing hypocrisy— “a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not, especially the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion.”
Watching the antics during the maiden week of the 114th Congress of the United States, I can think of no better word for the philosophy of government they seem to be espousing than hypocracy.
See if this term comes in handy for you in your social and political discussions this year. I believe I will be using it a lot. Alas.
January 11th, 2015 at 2:28 pm
I kind of like “hypocracy” as “undergovernment” or negligent rule; “hyperocracy” could be “overgovernment” or overly attentive, personally invasive rule.
January 11th, 2015 at 2:53 pm
A very useful word, then! The ideal would be, presumably, just cracy, then–as for Goldilocks, not too much and not too little: just right!
January 11th, 2015 at 2:46 pm
Reblogged this on Gabby's Table and commented:
There’s nothing better than having an expert on words at the table. It’s amazing taking words apart and analyzing the many meanings and derivatives of each part. The love of words alone is a great passion of mine. So, improve your vocabulary and. . follow that site!
January 11th, 2015 at 2:54 pm
Thanks very much, Gabby–I’m very appreciative!
January 12th, 2015 at 2:48 pm
“Meet the new boss, same as the old….”
Sigh. So much needs to be addressed/attended to, yet…
No wonder so many are walking away – weary.
January 12th, 2015 at 7:48 pm
Ah, phil, so right….
January 16th, 2015 at 5:21 am
Hypocracy, or hyperocracy? Which do I use for our government? That’s a debate in itself.
On the surface, it embodies “hyperocracy”, but feels “hypocratic” in meaning.
What a great post! Thanks!
January 16th, 2015 at 1:52 pm
Good suggestion, Justin, although it’s hard to be sure about hyperocracy, since the party most critical of the concept is the party most eager to indulge in it, at least for the non-rich… But that’s food for a whole different conversation, isn’t it? Thanks for your comment!