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abibliophobia

noun [uncountable]

the fear of running out of things to read

abibliophobic

adjective

abibliophobe

noun [countable]

'What better respite from abibliophobia than working in a library?'

it seems rather ironic that the term abibliophobia appears to have been coined on the Web … it would seem impossible for anyone with regular access to the Internet to be an abibliophobe

In a discussion of the term bibliotherapy, we looked at alternative therapy based on reading. In the term abibliophobia, we're conversely dealing with a psychotic condition caused by reading!

The World Wide Web is a cavernous source of reading material. Indeed, it's a bigger readers' repository than the world has ever known, so it seems rather ironic that the term abibliophobia appears to have been coined on the Web during the last three or four years. It would seem impossible for anyone with regular access to the Internet to be an abibliophobe (someone suffering from a fear of running out of reading material) or to become abibliophobic when more and more reading matter is available by the hour.

Background – abibliophobia

Phobia is used both independently and as a suffix to describe an irrational fear of something, and has had increasingly productive use as a suffix in recent years – it seems possible to create an English term for being frightened of almost anything. For instance, many of us have heard of claustrophobia (fear of confined spaces) and agoraphobia (fear of open spaces) but what about e.g. papaphobia (fear of the Pope or the Roman Catholic Church), nostophobia (a fear of returning home), or even coulrophobia (fear of clowns)? The English language seems to concentrate as much on classifying disorders as it does finding terms for alternative therapies used to address them, so as well as bibliotherapy, we have bibliophobia (an irrational fear of books). Abibliophobia is most likely a nonce derivative of the latter, using morpheme 'a' from the Greek not.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

This article was first published on 21st April 2003.

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