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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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Words of the day — idiopathic

Good evening Netizens

February 25, 2013

Word of the Day

  • idiopathic
  • audio pronunciation
  • \id-ee-uh-PATH-ik\


: arising spontaneously or from an obscure or unknown cause
: peculiar to the individual

"Some dogs have idiopathic epilepsy, which means there's no real explanation for their seizures, though even a reasonably mild stressor may increase the odds of a seizure." — From an article by Steve Dale in the Orlando (Florida) Sentinel, November 13, 2012

"Juvenile idiopathic arthritis, diagnosed before age 16, causes chronic swelling of the joints along with redness, [Dr. Hilary] Haftel said." — From an article by Amanda Whitesell in the Livingston County (Michigan) Press, January 11, 2013


"Idiopathic" joins the combining form "idio-" (from Greek "idios," meaning "one's own" or "private") with "-pathic," a form that suggests the effects of disease. The combining form "idio-" is typically found in technical terms. Examples include "idiographic," meaning "relating to or dealing with something concrete, individual, or unique"; "idiolect," meaning "the language or speech pattern of one individual at a particular period of life"; and "idiotype," meaning "the molecular structure and conformation of an antibody that confers its antigenic specificity." A more common "idio-" word is "idiosyncrasy," which most commonly refers to an unusual way in which a person behaves or thinks, or to an unusual part or feature of something.

From Merriam-Webster Online at



Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.