Printable Version
Pronunciation: aw-tahr-kee Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. Self-sufficiency, self-reliance, self-governance, independence. 2. A political policy of economic self-sufficiency.

Notes: Do not confuse this word with autarchy "(1) autocracy, (2) self-rule, self-governance". This error is so deeply embedded in the English vocabulary, even some dictionaries list them as synonyms. The adjective is autarkic or autarkical. Even though the -al suffix isn't pronounced in the adverb, it must be spelled autarkically. You may call an advocate of autarky an autarkist.

In Play: Autarky usually applies to the economies of countries: "The former Soviet Union was the only country in modern history to enjoy complete economic autarky." This word applies to sectors of the economy, too: "US autarky in fossil fuels would make it secure against Arab oil embargoes, Russian cut-offs, and the weaponization of energy sources by the likes of Venezuela and Iran."

Word History: Today's Good Word was transliterated from Greek autarkeia "self-sufficiency", the quality noun for autarkes "self-sufficient", made up of auto(s) "self" + arkein "to resist, protect, suffice". No one seems to know how autos found its way into Greek, but the origin of arkein is easily traced. It was derived from PIE ark- "to guard, lock", underlying Armenian argelk' "fence, barrier, hindrance", Albanian arkë "money box, cash register", and Latin arcere "to shut in, keep away" and arca "chest, box for safe keeping", as 'the Ark of the Covenant'. Self-sufficiency was historically seen as protection from your enemies. (The Good Word series is not autarkic; it depends on prolific contributors like Eileen Opiolka as a source of excellent Good Words like hers today.)

Dr. Goodword,

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