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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Cacoethes \Cac`o*["e]"thes\, n. [L., fr. Gr. ???????? of ill habits, ?? ???????? an ill habit; kako`s bad + ? habit]

  1. A bad custom or habit; an insatiable desire; as, caco["e]thes scribendi, ``The itch for writing''.

  2. (Med.) A bad quality or disposition in a disease; an incurable ulcer.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

"itch for doing something," 1560s, from Latinized form of Greek kakoethes "ill-habit, wickedness, itch for doing (something)," from kakos "bad" (see caco-) + ethe- "disposition, character" (see ethos). Most famously, in Juvenal's insanabile scribendi cacoethes "incurable passion for writing."


n. 1 compulsion; mania 2 (context medicine obsolete English) A bad quality or disposition in a disease; an incurable ulcer.


n : an irrational but irresistible motive for a belief or action [syn: mania, passion]

Usage examples of "cacoethes".

Stormed by an attack of his cacoethes scribendi, after those few blank days at Becket, Felix saw nothing amiss with his young daughter.

Here, by the fire, far from the freneticism of the bongoing living room, Cacoethes held forth discussing poetry with the local wits, in tones about like this: "Marshall Dashiell is too busy cultivating his beard and driving his Mercedes Benz around cocktail parties in Chevy Chase and up Cleopatra's needle, O.

The other poets were either horn-rimmed intellectual hep cats with wild black hair like Alvah Goldbook, or delicate pale handsome poets like Ike O'Shay (in a suit), or out-of-this-world genteel-looking Renaissance Italians like Francis DaPavia (who looks like a young priest), or bow-tied wild-haired old anarchist fuds like Rheinhold Cacoethes, or big fat bespectacled quiet booboos like Warren Coughlin.