Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
Paul Spalding-Mulcock
Features Writer
1:00 AM 23rd September 2023

Word Of The Week : Lackadaisical

Lackadaisical adjective

Readers of these articles are certainly far too enthusiastic about our rich lexicon to be lackadaisical about words. Despite Lackadaisical being rooted in the sort of sorrow that can enervate even the most chipper soul, it’s a word that paradoxically rewards willing scrutiny.

Folks living in the late 17th century having regrettably experienced one of those quotidian days where all endeavours are blighted by frustration or mishap, could often be heard to querulously cry, “Lackaday!” This came to signify their sorrow and disappointment as a shortened form of the more archaic expression “alack the day”, alack being an interjection used to voice sadness, or regret.

By the mid-1700s, the adjective ‘lackadaisical’ had been fashioned to describe these unfortunate souls and their miserable doings and sayings. Coterminous with Lackadaisical, the interjection lackadaisey was also introduced into Anglo-Saxon English. Having a similar meaning to lackaday, it was never as prevalent, but ‘lackadaisey’ is considered by lexicographical scholars to be the fons-et origo of our word, ‘Lackadaisical’.

Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay
Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay
In modern parlance, the word means lacking enthusiasm and determination because of a beleaguered, and therefore enervated, spirit. By implication, it connotes a lack of zest and vigour, elliptically suggesting insouciance, or a fatigued disinclination to summon the necessary will to act.

One has only to consider our PM’s languid response to the Global Climate Crisis and his lamentably languorous attitude to Net Zero imperatives, to fix ‘lackadaisical’ in one’s mental dictionary.