A Word for Wednesday

Nimiety - n. [L. nimietas] The state of being too much

This word provides a nice contrast to last Wednesday's, don't you think? Last week was about nothingness; this week is about fullness. Actually, the idea of this word goes beyond fullness into excess. Superfluity is the perfect synonym for nimiety. Isn't it interesting how both too little and too much of things can become problematic? On the one hand, you can be consumed by the "nothingness" of life. On the other, you can be overwhelmed by the fullness of it. You can have too many things to do, too many places to go, too many people to see. If you spend too much time thinking about it, you can be buried by the excess existence of evil and hurt and cruelty in the world. Or, on the opposing end of the spectrum, you can be overwhelmed by all the beautiful and incredible things in the world because there are just too many to see or do, or even read about, in one lifetime.

I think nimiety is the opposite of nihility. Both define excessive positions so maybe, if they were combined, you'd arrive at moderation. Something like...nihimiety - the state of being in the middle ;)

That aside, I have two usage examples to share. One is actually from a Wall Street Journal article. This is the first time I've found one of my words in modern use. It's rather reaffirming to see that it's possible to incorporate these old words into today's dialogue, not just historically based stories. The article, On Eloquence, was written by Denis Donoghue. He says this: "Normally, we recognize an eloquent event as a flare of expression, an excess or superabundance of its qualities. But there are several kinds of eloquence. Some are thrilling in their audacity—they are prophetic, magical, sublime, we futilely say: if we tire of them or are not in the mood to appreciate their excesses, we say that they are pretentious, as Coleridge spoke of 'a nimiety, too-muchness.' Shakespeare's sonnets are such a case." 

The second is from The Westminister Review, Volume 125. I don't know what work is being reviewed here. I kept scrolling to try to find some context, but after about twenty pages I decided it didn't really matter all that much. This sentence actually has a similar idea to the supposed pretention mentioned in the last usage. Here it is: "The lines to the memory of Victor Hugo are finely expressed, though they err is respect of nimiety of sentiment and adulation." I see no problem with excessive adulation, especially of an author who's work you admire. I guess critics aren't so easily charmed. But that's all right. There's a place for clear, concise language. And there is also a place for works full of supposedly superfluous words - because those "excess" words can be what makes a page memorable; they can make up the audacious eloquence that Donoghue spoke of. I like eloquence and I like a certain amount of audacity. So I think a healthy dose of too-muchness every now and again could be a good thing :)

But onto today's story...

"You are too much sometimes, Evie, you really are."

"What did I do?"

She looked so innocent, so completely oblivious to her own behavior, as she stood there. I added the sheet to the stack in her arms and pulled the next one out of the clothespins. I could not believe I was having to explain things to her again.

"It's just that, well, you have this nimiety about you," I said. "Everything you do is excessive. Even your cooking is over the top. I love you, to pieces, but you really need to learn some moderation, Eve."

Before anyone else gets hurt, I added to myself.


  1. Moderation is key!
    You know, I just realized, you'll do great if you ever take/have taken the GRE cause you know all these words. LOL.

  2. This is a great word! And I agree there has to be a certian balance in life :)

  3. Nice little scene there!

    You're turning into quite the wordsmith, Caitlin. ;) It's always fun to learn new words.

  4. Ashley - I'm not familiar with the GRE. What is it exactly?

    Jen - I like it too!

    Cherie - Thanks :) I'm flattered you think so.


Do share your thoughts - I enjoy reading them :)