Word: anhedonic

Pronunciation: an-hi-DAH-nik

Part of Speech: adjective

Definition: unable to feel pleasure

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


Marshall: (during a sword fight with Ted) Ted! If you wanted to be married by now, you would be, but you’re not. And you know why? Because you’re irrationally picky, you’re easily distracted and you’re utterly anhedonic.

Ted: Anhedonic?

Marshall: Anhedonic. It means you can’t enjoy anything.

Ted: The hell I can’t. I’m enjoying this!

Marshall: I know, this rules!

How I Met Your Mother (Season 1, Episode 8 – The Duel)

The only time I’ve ever heard the word “anhedonic” was in the above dialogue from an episode of How I Met Your Mother. While sword-fighting with Ted to decide who should keep their apartment (it makes sense in context, trust me), Marshall calls him out on his inability to take pleasure in activities normal people enjoy. Perhaps Ted’s counterargument is invalid, given that a sword duel in the middle of a New York apartment hardly counts as a “normal activity”, but that just makes the scene all the more fun to watch.

An “anhedonic” person is someone who is unable to experience pleasure in normally pleasurable activities. The word is the adjective form of the noun “anhedonia”, a term in Psychiatry for the inability to feel pleasure. This noun traces back to the French noun anhédonie, which consists of two Greek roots: the prefix an- “without” and the noun hēdonḗ “pleasure”.

“Anhedonic” may be a good word to describe people who are constantly unhappy, regardless of whether or not it’s an actual psychiatric condition. As for dialogue, because the word “anhedonia” is a Psychiatry term, it would most likely be used by characters of high intellectual achievement. If you write about miserable people or characters such as psychiatrists or doctors (or even lawyers, as is the case of Marshall Eriksen), you may be able to get plenty of use out of this word. Just try not to be “anhedonic” when it comes to your writing!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

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