59

I came across this word a few years ago, but can't find it now. I do not mean deodand, animism, pathetic fallacy, scapegoating, anthropomorphism, or personification (Word for attaching blame to inanimate objects).

If I recall correctly, this particular word sounded like a religion but looked like a phobia; it may well have been coined by the creator of the content in which I encountered it. Any assistance is greatly appreciated.

3
  • 5
    Could we use this question as a benchmark for future "questioners", please? It is in a word, perfect!
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 7, 2014 at 7:43
  • 1
    Well, Mari-Lou A, I'm quite flattered, but certainly you may.
    – Dutch Jeff
    Commented May 7, 2014 at 21:59
  • 3
    I would argue the term you want is "experience" but then I've spent decades working with computers.
    – TechZen
    Commented May 8, 2014 at 3:51

3 Answers 3

88

Resistentialism

Resistentialism is a jocular theory to describe "seemingly spiteful behavior manifested by inanimate objects", where objects that cause problems (like lost keys or a runaway bouncy ball) are said to exhibit a high degree of malice toward humans.

[Wikipedia]

4
  • 1
    Thank you! What a relief. You answered so quickly I had to wait seven minutes to mark the answer. Too bad I don't have enough rep to vote you up.
    – Dutch Jeff
    Commented May 7, 2014 at 0:52
  • ermanen, how did you know the word so fast? Is this a word you use frequently?
    – silkfire
    Commented May 7, 2014 at 14:37
  • 12
    @silkfire: I have malicious objects at my house that I have to resist.
    – ermanen
    Commented May 7, 2014 at 15:41
  • 3
    This answer (both the fact that it could be answered and the speed with which it was answered) is why the Stack Exchange network is amazing.
    – asteri
    Commented May 8, 2014 at 3:24
4

humorous meaning - from OED, indeed, resistentialism means:

The theory that inanimate objects are hostile to humans; hostility manifested by inanimate objects.

Originally in the works of Paul Jennings.

1948 P. Jennings in Spectator 23 Apr. 491/1 Resistentialism is a philosophy of tragic grandeur... Resistentialism derives its name from its central thesis that Things (res) resist (résister) men... Resistentialism is the philosophy of what Things think about us.

1950 P. Jennings Oddly Enough 147 ‘Things are against us.’ This is the nearest English translation I can find for the basic concept of Resistentialism.

1996 C. H. Elster There's Word for It! (2005) 246 Even my daughter..is well aware of the sinister power of resistentialism... Not long ago I heard her crying from another room. I ran to her aid and found her frowning at a chair. ‘That chair bumped me.’

0
1

Perhaps the word you had in mind is Hylozoism

Hylozoism is the philosophical doctrine according to which all matter is alive or animated [Wikipedia]

which I came across yesterday in connection with the swords used by officers in the Imperial Japanese Army.

1
  • Thanks. // While not the exact fit that resistentialism is here, this word is perhaps more valuable in its own right. Commented Oct 24, 2023 at 18:24

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.