otiose  /ˈəʊ.ti.əʊs/


Think otiose.  Think Milo and Otis.  Think Otis Reading.  Think oats?  Think . . .

Sometimes I feel like this whole travel business is an otiose undertaking.  I was standing in the shower today and the thought struck me that despite how much I feel I’m learning here, I am not learning anything that people here didn’t know before me.  What exactly do I think I’m achieving through being here?  Sometimes I’m too otiose even to learn what can be learned.  I suppose some would argue that the entire business of life is somewhat otiose, so we may as well do what we find interesting.

In the paragraph above, otiose was employed in a few different contexts to illustrate some of its possible uses.  1.  Serving no particular purpose: pointless.  2.  Disinclined to work: lazy.  3. Pointless or futile.

Otiose seems to be somewhat of a nihilistic word, really.  Kind of negative.  Condensing within one word all that is listless, meaningless, pointless.    One definition I found for otiose was ‘having no excuse for being.’  (http://wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?)

Now that’s rough!

But when it is used in another sense, referring to the otiose repetition of words or ideas in a paragraph, lecture or essay – this I can appreciate!  There’s nothing like an indulgent litany of extraneous, tautological synonyms to lull any dedicated, committed, interested reader off to sleep.

If you’re still awake and with me, let’s throw ‘otiose’ into some daily situations to see if we can’t make this word, which I find a bit wanky, fit into our lingo.

I’m going to try to think of a way you can use this without insulting someone.  In almost all of my inchoate examples from last week, somebody was being insulted!

Let’s see . . . how about:

I like my physio, but I’m worried her technique is otiose, I come out feeling just like I did before.

You could say climbing is otiose, but I love it!  That has to mean something.

Could you help me with this essay?  I want to edit out any otiose bits and pieces.

Origins:  Latin otiosus, from otium: leisure.

That’s it for this week,

In peace and wordliness.


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