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Pronunciation: AG-uh-thist

Definition: one who believes all things tend toward ultimate good.


This positive noun dates back to 1816 and stems from the Greek agathos, simply meaning ‘good’. Funny enough, Agatha was a very common feminine name in Greek culture stemming from this same noun, but no similar name was ever coined for men!

Why this word?

The 1816 record to this word is with George Miller’s account in his “Lectures on the Philosophy of Modern History” where he writes: “Doctor Kearney […] observed to me once, that he was not an optimist, but an “agathist”; that he believed that everything tended to good, but did not think himself competent to determine what was absolutely the best. The distinction is important, and seems to be fatal to the system of Optimism”.

While optimism, by definition, is the complete misrecognition of evil, agathism excepts evil; agathism excepts that essentially bad things can happen to good people, but even when so- good will come.

We are all, to an extent, agathists and optimists at time. To those of us who float among the furry bubbles of optimism, agathism is a much needed reality check.

How to use agathist?

Agathist is a noun representing one who believes in the eventual ultimate good.

“David is an optimist, he doesn’t think this war to be an actual threat. John, on the other hand, is an agathist. War may break out he says, but even if it will- it will work for the general good of this nation”.


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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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