In a word: Jactitation

November 28, 2011

Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a moderately obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar — another brick to add to the wall of your working vocabulary. This week's word:


If you are haunted by late-night television commercials about "restless leg syndrome," you might find it handy to have the use of the word jactitation (or its alternative jactation) to describe the restless tossing of the body or the twitching of a limb or muscle.

The word, pronounced jak-tuh-TAY-shun, comes from the Latin verb jactare, "to throw." In jactitation, your limbs are thrown about without your volition.

There is a specialized legal meaning of the word as well growing out of a sense of a boastful public declaration — to "throw out" a statement. Garner's Dictionary of Legal Usage says that it narrowly meant to make of false declaration of marriage to someone but has since taken on broader usage.

Example: She's also prone to hypnagogic jactitation, which means she twitches abruptly as she's falling asleep.

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