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Saturday, November 17, 2012


The OED defines blasé as: exhausted by enjoyment, weary and disgusted with it; used up. It also, similarly, defines it as bored or unimpressed through over-familiarity; insensitive, supercilious. It is the past participle of F fw, blaser, to exhaust by enjoyment, cloy. The word, apart from its French counterpart, is of largely unknown etymology. It is closely associated with Cloy, which commonly means to maim, pierce, or clog, but also means to satiate, surfeit, gratify beyond desire. It stems from the mF, enclouer, meaning to nail. It is a fairly recent word, with its first recorded English use being in 1819. 
In one sense, those who are described as blasé are world-weary. They have little appreciation for the luxuries they enjoy — their idea of commonplace. To someone of a lesser stature, these luxuries would only be enjoyed on special occasions, or not at all. Nonetheless, they would be highly desirable to those devoid of these luxuries. However, for the blasé, the thrill, the excitement, the novelty of these events, opportunities, luxuries has worn off from overconsumption and the sweetness has turned to revulsion. To one not privy to these overindulgences, such people (the blasé) seem ignorant, aloof, selfish and insensitive. They have no respect for the luxuries one would appreciate. 
Most often, this word is reserved for the upper class and the first world, with much disdain. However, the sole determinant of whether or not another person is blasé is the opinion of the observer, and his or her own values. An impoverished person may think another discarding leftover food is blasé. That person discarding leftover food might think the guy who just passed him in a Range Rover is blasé. That guy driving the Range Rover might think that the gluttonous tycoon who paid off those involved in a scandal he caused blasé. It goes on. What is normal to one person may be disrespectful and insulting to another. In this sense, the notion of another being blasé is rooted in the cultural values of the observer. A Mennonite may think that his neighbour cutting his lawn , working on a sunday, is blasphemous, unheard of, and entirely disrespectful to their culture and society. If he seems unfazed by this idea, in that he always cuts his lawn on a sunday, they might deem him blasé.
Blasé is not solely reserved for the rich and the spoiled. It is used for those who take things for granted. Everyone is, in this sense, slightly ignorant — slightly blasé. This is more or less unavoidable. The problem occurs when one is so satiated with luxury that nothing can satisfy their selfish hunger, be it physical or metaphysical. This is the far extreme of blasé.


“blasé, adj. : Oxford English Dictionary,” http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/19914?
“accloy, v. : Oxford English Dictionary,” last updated December 2011, http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/1111? 

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