Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
Paul Spalding-Mulcock
Features Writer
1:03 AM 14th October 2023

Word Of The Week : Idiosyncrasy

Idiosyncrasy noun

The noun ‘idiosyncrasy’ originates from the Greek word, idiosynkrasía, meaning a peculiar temperament or habit of the body, itself caused by a unique blending of the Four Humours combining to form a particular individual’s self.

Unsurprisingly, when employing this ancient word in our modern vernacular, we generally mean to name a way of behaving or thinking that is characteristic of a person, especially when thinking of a highly individual temperament, or mental constitution.

Synonyms for Idiosyncrasy can lead us a merry dance orbiting the word’s suggestion of oddity. Crotchet can refer to an eccentric opinion, preference, or manner. However, Quiddity and Singularity resist a semantic gravitational pull towards perversion and denote essence, rather than peculiarity.

Image by Bruno from Pixabay
Image by Bruno from Pixabay
Peculiarity, meaning the quality or state of being ‘peculiar’ by dint of a distinguishing characteristic, returns us back to idiosyncrasy’s more quirky connotations, including erraticism and my personal favourite, kink.
Amongst the many meanings of Kink, we have a rather innocuous collection which includes, an imperfection likely to cause difficulties in operation, a mental or physical oddness, and a short twist or curl in a length of something.

However, surely Kink’s most deliciously idiosyncratic meaning is likely to raise the eyebrow of even the most sober of lexicographical scholars…an unconventional sexual taste, or behaviour. That said, any self-respecting historian knows that the Ancient Greeks proudly blamed the Four Humours for many a foible, or quixotic predilection!