Monday, May 5, 2014
Word of the Week - Perfectionist
Short but sweet one today. =)
I grew up with a perfectionist for a father, so it's a word I've known for, oh, ever. I too can be a perfectionist in a lot of things (housekeeping not among them, ha ha). Never had I thought to look up its etymology, though, until I came across it in a manuscript set in biblical days. I'd already learned that most of those "isms" we know so well came out of the psychological revolution.
Perfectionist has a different but similar story. The original meaning of the word, dating from the 1650s, is actually "one who believes that moral perfection is attainable in this life through faith." A button topic for millennia, LOL. If you believed that, you were a perfectionist. If you didn't, then you weren't.
It wasn't until 1934 that the modern meaning came around--"one who is satisfied with only the highest standards." Pretty different! No longer is a word that has to do with theological debates, but now it's about measurable standards.