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Volition in its weakest form, a wish not accompanied by an effort to obtain it.


Dated back to the 1610’s, this noun comes from the Middle Latin stem of velleitas or velle meaning to wish or to will.

Why this word?

Although having to do with wants and wishes, as seen through decades of literature- velleity is a very sad noun. In Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, he described volleity as “connoisseuse of ‘splendid weakness’, run not by any lust or even velleity but by vacuum; by the absence of human hope”. In the Times magazine, author Howard Jacobson called it “the feeblest and most unanticipated of anticipations” and the marketer Matt Bailey described it as “a desire to see something done, but not enough desire to make it happen”.

Our lives advance following the things we want, the wishes we strive to fulfill and the dreams we work so hard to accomplish. Velleity is the core of lives which do no advance, of existence that is unchangeable. We must be active in order for us to achieve; in order for us to be active- we must want, we ought to desire.

Individuals, whose highest wishes are velleities (plural), will forever remain in that very same place, where they are neither happy nor sad; pointlessly floating through life.

How to use this velleity?

Velleity is a noun, existent for us to differentiate active desires leading to action, from passive desires leading to boredom.

A: “I want to make David happy, but he rejects each and every idea I present him with. I can’t understand what he wants!”

B: “David has no wants, he only has velleities…  As long as this will remain the same- he will keep rejecting your ideas”.


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Written by Victoria Sheinkin

Victoria Sheinkin is a writer, content editor, translator and chief editor for Speaking three and a half languages, she holds two BAs from the Tel Aviv university- Communication and jounalism, English literature and linguistics.


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