• sybarite •
Pronunciation: si-bê-rait • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. Someone who wallows in luxury. 2. A voluptuary with no ambition beyond self-indulgence.
Notes: The noun for this lifestyle is sybaritism, which implies an adjective, sybaritic, and an adverb, sybaritically. Thackeray left us with this description of sybarites dining in 1887, "It was a Sybaritic repast, in a magnificent apartment, and we were all of us young voluptuaries of fashion."
In Play: Perhaps the epitome of sybaritic pleasures emerges in Fellini's classic film La Dolce Vita, or the activities in the Playboy mansion in Chicago: complete hedonism with an unlimited bank account. However, it is not limited to these two instances: "Only a few of the sybarites heading US corporations at the end of the last century have paid any penalty for financing their sybaritism with company funds."
Word History: Today's Good Word is an eponym of Sybaris, a city of Magna Graecia "Great Greece", located in southern Italy on the Gulf of Taranto. It was founded in 720 BC by settlers from the Greek Peloponnesus mainly from the city of Argolis, and grew to be very prosperous. It was known for its luxurious hedonistic life style until it was destroyed by neighboring Crotona in 510 BC. (Our gratitude today is owed Donald Merino and D. V. Klisanic of Holland, whom we can only wish a life of sybaritic pleasure.)