Talking like my generation: apoplectic

Presidential adviser David Axelrod described President Obama as “apoplectic” about General Services Administration spending. I think Axelrod was showing his age, 57, which is close to my own. I can’t imagine that many people under 40 would use that word.

I love apoplectic. It sounds Shakespearean and Southern at the same time. It means “furious,” according to the American Heritage Dictionary, Fifth Edition, and it comes from the old word apoplexy, which meant a stroke but later was used to refer to a “fit of rage,” the dictionary says. The word connotes anger so white-hot that the enraged person can’t speak or move. I think of someone trembling with rage.

In 2010, the Nieman Journalism Lab posted about the top word searches on the New York Times. Apoplectic was No. 21. The word also appears in the Urban Dictionary, which perhaps belies my point about age.