Thursday, 23 May 2013


My new word. Woke up with it this morning, rushed to Google. NOTHING. Mine, all mine. So I published a copyright announcement on Facebook. No, I know you can't copyright a word, but I'm not letting somebody else get the credit for it. That's date-stamped for posterity.

I hereby wish it to be known, for all dictionaries and copyright purposes that I have created a new word in English, previously unused and unknown: DYSPIETY. From two elements: The prefix dys-, meaning bad (Greek), as in faulty or abnormal, leading to bad effect, and piety, meaning religious devotion (from Latin)

Is there a need for yet another word? Oh yes. In none of the comments and editorials, no matter how erudite, about atrocities committed in the name of religion, have I been able to find a single word that exactly expresses it.

It seems to me, as an independent observer, that there is a fear of telling it like it is. That if we acknowledge that religious belief is really, truly involved in acts of cruelty, we are somehow maligning the religion concerned. It has even become politically incorrect in some circles to describe a person by his religion when he commits an act of terror.

If we stopped worrying about which particular religion is involved, perhaps it would help. Because it really doesn't make any difference. Horrific acts have been committed by humans using God as an excuse since the beginning of recorded history, and I have no doubt that it went on prior to that too.

Whether you believe in God or not makes no difference either. Many do, and will continue to do so, but we have to set some ground rules. Because we simply cannot have one human's interpretation of "what God wants" having sway over another. Basic, humane rules of conduct, agreed upon by humans over millennia, absolutely must be the guiding principle behind civil and international law. There must be no exceptions. Civilization itself rests on the idea that we have to somehow live together in peace, despite ideological differences.

It is not enough to be tolerant, and in fact there are plenty of occasions where tolerance is inappropriate. Dyspiety, like any dysfunction, causes great harm, not just to those immediately involved, but makes waves throughout our society, leading inevitably to responses of fear and helplessness. A cycle of vengeance is easily to begin, and so very difficult to end.


  1. Hmm. I like the concept of a word for terror in the name of god. I like the word dyspiety. And I wonder if we can invent a better one. This one may be mistaken to mean dysfunction through LACK of piety. Dyslexia is not being able to read. Dyspraxia is not being good with your hands. Dysfunction is not being functional. Get the drift?

    1. But that's not exactly what they mean. Dyslexia means bad reading really, bad in the sense of faultly. You can stioll read but it's garbled, messed up. Faulty reading. Dysfunction is faulty functioning. Dyspraxia is faulty Hang on. Praxia refers to action. So it's faulty actions. It's not a negative, it's a messed up version.

    2. True, but still, the words carry a sense of not-enough of the modified term, while the trouble with dyspiety is more like an overdose of the religious sense. However, that is just my sense. You are the native anglophone so I shall bow to your superior judgment.

    3. LOL, I don't claim to have any extra handle on it, this is really Greek and Latin:)