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Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Cenophobia (n.) the fear of new ideas, is the combination of the word phobia and ceno. Phobia (n.), comb. form. is defined by OED as: “A fear, horror, strong dislike, or aversion; esp. an extreme or irrational fear or dread aroused by a particular object or circumstance".1  Phobia comes from the Greek word phobos meaning "fear, panic, terror".  It was first recorded as a compound word in Latin, with words like hydrophobia, and feminophobia.  This formatting of the words led to the common combinations in English in the 17th century; the word phobia typically combines with Latin or Greek words to express the fear or aversion to something.2  The additional word ceno is from the Greek word kainos meaning "new".3  Today, cepophobia is used to describe people who have a severe fear of new things or new ideas.  However it is also experienced in little bundles by most people. 

Cenophobia, the fear of new ideas manifests itself in many situations and is one of the biggest preventers of creativity.  Many people, though they do not directly have a fear of new ideas in general, find themselves rejecting a new thought if it conflicts with something they have come to accept.  Many people fear creative ideas unconsciously because creative and new ideas are very often uncertain.  Creativity has an element of surprise, a unique characteristic of presenting something unexpected and clever from a situation.  Those who love to be in a state of uncertainty probably enjoy learning about new concepts, or finding new solutions, and experience cenophobia less often. 

One situation in which people fear a new idea is when an ideal, or a moral that has been permanently pressed into your mind suddenly becomes challenged.  It is strange to realize that what you have grown up believing in, could possible not be true.  This fear that one might have to re-evaluate and reconsider all of their previous things that they had thought to be unwavering, is a very intimidating thought.  We seek to find answers and explanations for things so that we understand how to respond to a situation.  So when the information you have collected about your life turns out to be false, you are stuck in a moment of deciding whether or no to accept this new idea.  It means deciding weather or not you want to face the possibility of not understanding.  Defeating cenophobia takes time and it takes practice.

Another situation in which cenophobia presents itself is in the classroom.  From the perspective of the student, it is common to sit in class and slowly start to see a new idea form in one's head.  This idea can sometimes be so new and so brilliant that is takes a while to absorb.  If done with bravery, the idea can be taken in, thought about, played with and analyzed.  However there are moments when one might be afraid to read on, or afraid to listen any further because this fear that they might have to discard and restart their thought is too overwhelming.


1. "Home : Oxford English Dictionary. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/142572#eid30800420 (accessed November 18, 2012).

2.  Etymonline.com. Etymology Online. Dan McCormack. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=phobia (accessed: November 18, 2012).

3. Etymonline.com. Etymology Online. Dan McCormack. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=ceno (accessed: November 18, 2012).

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