This week I’ve been reading poetry by T.S. Eliot. I’m not just saying that to be poncy – I really have. I realised I’d never read the whole of ‘The Waste Land’ which didn’t seem right, so I bought myself a collection and read it while sitting in the sunshine drinking beer (I find alcohol always helps me understand poetry. Possibly not correctly, but you can’t have everything).
Anyway, back to ‘velleity’. A velleity is ‘a wish or inclination not strong enough to lead to action’ (from the OED). So basically it’s when you want to do something, but just can’t be arsed. Like pretty much everything in this hot weather. Here it is in plural action in Eliot’s poem ‘Portrait of a Lady’:
‘…And so the conversation slips / Among velleities and carefully caught regrets…’
Interesting fact alert: T.S. Eliot is widely credited with being the first person to use the word ‘bullshit’ in print. He wrote a poem called ‘The Triumph of Bullshit’ which is basically an up-yours to the literary critics of the time. It also contains the beautifully written refrain ‘For Christ’s sake stick it up your ass’. So, next time you use either of those, you can legit say you’re being intellectual. You’re welcome.