At my office recently we all had to sign a document from corporate stating that we understood the drug and alcohol abuse policy they enforce. I certainly have no problem with that, since some of my least favorite ex-coworkers had drug and alcohol problems, including one who blazed up a doobie in the car in which I was riding one night.
Again, I digress. Signing this document reminded me of some complaining I needed to do, this time about the misuse of the suffix “holic.” Holic? What is a holic, Richard? Simply put, it’s the second half of the word alcoholic.
In case you don’t see it coming, this is another rant about the destruction of language. An alcoholic is a person addicted to alcohol. In chemistry, an alcohol is any organic compound in which a hydroxyl group is bound to a carbon atom of an alkyl. But in this context, it is ethanol, or grain alcohol, the kind in intoxicating drinks such as beer, wine, or spirits.
Why, then, are we unable to describe addictions to other substances without referring to alcohol? What, for example, is a rageaholic? Someone addicted to rageahol? When we work too much we are called workaholics, as if we can’t stop consuming workahol. Is a chocoholic someone addicted to chocohol? (Interesting side note: Firefox’s spell check thinks “chocoholic” and“workaholic” are words).
Perhaps I am naive enough to imagine it would be to all our benefits to be creative enough to express ourselves without shredding the very language of expression.