“Alack!” originally meant something
like “Alas!” It bore connotations of dissatisfaction or shame. “Alack
the day!” meant at first “may the day be shamed in which this awful
thing has happened.” Later, it came to be abbreviated “lack-a-day” and
used to express mere surprise.
The expression was gradually weakened, shifting from expressions of
anguish to resigned despair, to languid indifference. The end result is
the modern form “lackadaisical,” which conveys a lack of enthusiasm—a
casual, perfunctory way of doing things.
This final meaning suggests “laxness” to some people who then misspell the word “laxadaisical,” but this is nonstandard.
Like the daily calendar? For a limited
time, we are offering the book in print for just $10 (and free shipping
within the USA). Click here to order the book, then enter the coupon code COMMONERRORSDEAL when you check out. Want more discounts? Order other William, James & Company books using the coupon code WILLIAMJAMESDEAL for 15% off our other books. Only one coupon per order. Offer ends December 15, 2012.