Wednesday Word of the Week

Valetudinarian – (i) a person who is unduly anxious about their health; (ii) a person weak in health

“having been a valetudinarian all his life, without activity of mind or body, [Mr Woodhouse] was a much older man in ways than in years; and though everywhere beloved for the friendliness of his heart and his amiable temper, his talents could not have recommended him at any time. Emma – Jane Austen

I’m currently writing an article for Jane Austen’s Regency World about Jane Austen’s characters, and what diagnoses modern medicine might offer. Unexpectedly, thanks to the contradictory meanings of the word ‘valetudinarian’, as above, I have run into a great discussion about Mr Woodhouse, in Emma. Was he a hypochondriac? Or did he actually suffer from poor health? All opinions welcomed!

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