Wednesday Words (12)

Each Wednesday I present to you a loveable word and what it means. These are words that look or sound pleasing. This week we are suffering with…


This excellent word was suggested to me by Freya Morris. It can be used to describe a mild physical illness that doesn’t have a known cause or any definite severe symptoms. It can also be used to describe a state of unease within a society (or part of it) which doesn’t seem to have an obvious cure. It might be the ailing economy of a whole country, or the sense of dissatisfaction felt by the workers of one company, for example. For me, feeling ill is always made slightly more bearable if I am able to tell people my symptoms include “general malaise”. It is a mid-18th-century word, literally meaning “bad ease”, which came to us from Old French. It sounds so beautifully Victorian doesn’t it? Pass the brandy and smelling salts somebody!