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You Don't Say John E. McIntyre writes about language, usage, journalism & arbitrarily chosen subjects.

In a word: sybaritic

The Baltimore Sun

Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a relatively obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar, another brick to add to the wall of your vocabulary. This week's word:

SYBARITIC

The people of Sybaris, a Greek city in southern Italy on the Gulf of Tarentum, were famed in classical antiquity for their wealth and their fondness for voluptuous living, at least until their city was destroyed in 510 B.C.

They leave us a word, sybaritic (pronounced sib-uh-RIT-ik), for people fond of self-indulgence and luxury. The word can convey both envy and, thanks to our Puritan heritage, disapproval. Sybarites are not universally admired.

Example: From John Huey’s “Finding heroes for a new era,” in Fortune, January 25, 1993: “But by the Sixties, sybaritic, pajama-clad Hugh Hefner personified the primacy, once again, of consumption.”

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