Monday, July 27, 2009

The Presidential Swoon

Le Monde:

Au moment de sa sortie, l'Elysée publiait un communiqué expliquant qu'avait été diagnostiqué "un malaise lipothymique d'effort soutenu par grande chaleur et sans perte de connaissance, dans un contexte de fatigue liée à une charge de travail importante".


Uh, pardon me, Elysée press flacks, but "lipothymia?" Isn't that something straight out of Molière? Remember la vertu dormitive? Well, here we have "the fainting spirit." Sarkozy fainted because he was suffering from the fainting spirit:

OED:

[ad. and a. mod.L. lipoth{ymac}mia, ad. Gr.

{lambda}{iota}{pi}{omicron}{theta}{gumac}{mu}{giacu}{alpha}, f. {lambda}{iota}{pi}-, weak stem of {lambda}{epsilon}{giacu}{pi}{epsilon}{iota}{nu} to leave, fail, be lacking + {theta}{gumac}{mu}{goacu}{fsigma} animation, spirit. Cf. F. lipothymie (16th c.).]

Fainting, swooning, syncope; an instance of this. {dag}Also fig.

1603 F. HERRING Cert. Rules Contagion (1625) Biijb, The wearers of these Amulets haue fallen into sodaine Lypothimies and soundings. 1654 H. L'ESTRANGE Chas. I (1655) 5 This lipothymie, this faint-heartednesse, lost him [James] the reputation and respects of his people. 1660 JER. TAYLOR Duct. Dubit. (1676) 807 When nature is in a lipothymie. 1665-6 BOYLE Let. to Stubbe 9 Mar., Wks. 1772 I. Life 82 Others are freed from lypothymias by being pinched, or having cold water thrown in their faces. 1681 tr. Willis' Rem. Med. Wks. Vocab., Leipothymy. 1761 PULTENEY in Phil. Trans. LII. 351 A faint weak voice, an aptitude to fall into lipothymies from slight causes. 1787 W. FALCONER Influence Passions (1791) 90 note, He himself was affected with Lipothymia at seeing a criminal broken on the wheel. 1835-6 TODD Cycl. Anat. I. 796/1 Syncope occurs without any antecedence of pain or leipothymia.

So lipo{sm}thymial, lipo{sm}thymic, {dag}lipothymous adjs., of or pertaining to lipothymy; characterized by or tending to lipothymy.

1665 G. HARVEY Advice agst. Plague 26 If the patient is surprised with a Lipothymous anguor, jactitation, or great oppression about the stomach or Hypochonders, expect no relief from Cordials. 1689 {emem} Curing Dis. by Expect. iv. 28 Bleeding very oft..doth upon the stopping of the Blood throw them into a long and deep swooning or Leipothymick fit. 1836 I. TAYLOR Phys. Theory Another Life 319 All the facts connected with..paralysis and leipothymic states of the system,..will, if fairly considered, either confirm or exclude the theory we adopt. 1898 Allbutt's Syst. Med. V. 371 The lipothymial symptoms soon predominate.

Come on, fellas. Yesterday's "vasovagal syncope" was much better than today's "travailler plus pour s'évanouir plus."