Pronounced: pan-dik-yuh-LAY-shun, noun
Notes: I love words like this one; it describes something that (nearly) everyone does
The word acarophobia has multiple meanings
- an fear (phobia) of small insects
- a delusion that one’s skin is infected with bugs
- a fear of itching
Odd; most times, a word from the 20th century can be narrowed to within a decade, but my research gave a wide range of somewhere in the middle to late 1900s.
Background / Comments
It seems straightforward as to how the meaning of our word changed over time… let’s start with the background: I’m sure that nearly everyone who enjoys vocabulary recognized the Greek word -phobia (fear). The first part is from the Greek word acarus (mite). So, clearly, our word started out as a fear of small insects – the first definition. Really small ones would be hard to see, so the word mutated to the second meaning. Finally, if one does have bugs, one would itch, and, no doubt, be afraid that if one started itching, it would be a sign of a small insect infestation. I hope writing about this doesn’t make you itchy (heh).