Jargon Watch: Carborexia


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Many of us at TreeHugger may indeed be suffering from an emerging disease called carborexia. It was only a matter of time before someone pegged "too much" concern for the environment as a disease. Word watcher Michael Quinon of World Wide Words explains the origins of the word in the "turns of phrase" section of his latest email dispatch.

To exhibit "carborexia" is to have an extreme "dark green" attitude to environmental issues. This can show itself in several ways, such as excessive recycling, but in particular it refers to an obsessive desire to reduce one's personal carbon footprint. The term first appeared in an article in the New York Times on 17 October. The adjective is "carborexic".


Quinon says that carborexia is the latest addition to the group of words based on anorexia. He also cites the related word orthorexia, "in which sufferers are obsessed with eating the right diet, in particular avoiding foods thought to be harmful to health." Keep a watch on Oprah and Dr. Phil for the first appearance of a psychiatrist specializing in treating carborexic orthorexics. You may just see someone from these pages seeking treatment.

While Quinon doesn't think that carborexia has staying power, he does note its appearance in two of the nation's major publications.

New York Times, 17 Oct. 2008: Certainly there is no recognized syndrome in mental health related to the compulsion toward living a green life. But Dr. Jack Hirschowitz, a psychiatrist in private practice in Manhattan and a professor at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, said that certain carborexic behaviors might raise a red flag.

US News & World Report, 21 Oct. 2008: What do you think: Is carborexia a mental condition or a noble way of living?


via World Wide Words


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Tags: Carbon Neutral | Dematerialization | Environmental Footprint | Humor

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