1

Something + -cracy/-archy (“strength, power”) produces a word meaning ‘rule by those who are/have/were whatever the something is’. For example, ‘plutocracy’ is pluto- (“wealth”) + -cracy and means ‘rule by the wealthy’, whilst ‘ptochocracy’ is ptocho- (“poverty”) + -cracy and means ‘rule by the poor’.

However, say one wanted to make some sort of point by describing different types of rule based not on who has the power, but who doesn't. How would you do so?

Theory 1: Is there a suffix in English, or that can be derived from Greek, that is antonymic to -cracy (meaning “weakness, powerlessness”)?

Theory 2: Is the answer to stick an a- somewhere, for example in either ‘aptochocracy’ or ‘ptochoacracy’ to mean ‘a situation in which the poor have no power’? I feel like -acracy would make more intuitive sense, if this is the case.

This question was inspired by the discussions on this one, but was distinct enough that I wanted to ask it separately.

  • 1
    It's not a matter of needing a "negated" alternative to the -cracy suffix - you just need to come up with an appropriate element before the suffix. Slaves, for example, don't usually have any power, but according to Oxford Dictionaries they would be running the show in a dulocracy. – FumbleFingers Sep 7 '18 at 13:26
  • An alpha privative has to come first to be recognized as such. Are you trying to coin a word with Greek roots meaning the disenfranchisement or politicsl marginalization of a particular group? – KarlG Sep 7 '18 at 13:48
  • On the one hand, have you looked up suffix antonyms? Soft, as opposed to Hard; Endings, as opposed to Origins, etc? On the other, the question itself seems a bit of a 'liar's paradox' - if the wealthy are ruling and have power, how can the poor rule or have (the same) power? You can talk about hard power and soft power - personal power and institutional power. Not sure where you want to go with this. – Leon Conrad Sep 7 '18 at 14:11
  • Usually medical, the suffix -penia denotes a deficiency or lack of the root it's attached to (e.g. leukopenia = deficiency of white cells). You could form an expression that means a lack of power or control, but I don't see how you'd attach it to a certain group. – Jim Mack Sep 7 '18 at 16:20
  • @KarlG Exactly. So a society in which the wealthy held all the power would be called a ‘plutocracy’, but could also be called a ‘ptochosomething’ if one wanted to draw focus to the powerless rather than the empowered, and that something is what I'm after. – Rumps Sep 8 '18 at 10:07

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.