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Watching the discussion led by Dana Perino after the GOP debate this evening, Perino asked if "humility" was a good thing.

Another commentator remarked, "humility yes, self-abjination no." (The spelling is a guess.)

Perino said, "abjination? I don't know that word." Someone else said "must be one of those Harvard words." The commentator said, "it means self deprecating."

So what is the word? I tried Googling some variants, but came up dry.

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"Self-abjuration" maybe? –  Orion Sep 23 '11 at 6:42
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I think it's a malopropism formed from self-abjuration and self-abnegation. Rubbish "word", IMHO. –  FumbleFingers Sep 23 '11 at 14:29
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Given that this was fox news, it's not clear if the commentators knew what they were talking about –  Foo Bah Sep 24 '11 at 20:33
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2 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Self-abnegation would be my guess as to what was meant.

As a noun, the word self-abnegation is defined by dictionary.com as

the denial of one's own interests in favour of the interests of others

Some synonyms from The Visual Thesarus for self-abnegation are

  • humility
  • self-denial
  • abjuration
  • self-deprecation
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I would have thought the spelling was self-abdignation suggesting denying your own dignity.

Google suggests that the use of abdignation or self-abdignation is extremely rare. I suppose that people might coin them by modelling words like abnegation, abjuration, abdication and indignation.

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