Everyone knows at least one “agelast” without knowing that they are called that.

Without knowing it, everyone has at least one “agelast” in their entourage.

Everyone knows at least one “agelast” without knowing that they are called that.

Without knowing it, everyone has at least one “agelast” in their entourage. And it's not fun every day. Find out what that means!

We all know an “alegaste”! And to shine around the coffee machine or around the table with friends, it can be clever to show that you know what that means! It's a word invented centuries ago by a famous author. The one to whom we owe the most "new words" entering everyday language is undoubtedly the 16th century French writer François Rabelais.

He is notably at the origin of the adjective "pantagruelic" which is inspired by the main character of his work, Pantagruel, published in 1532. In accordance with this character known for being excessively hungry, this word designates an excessive meal. It is in the same idea that the word "gargantuan" indicates something gigantic, in reference to its other emblematic character, Gargantua.

This pillar of classic French literature had a very well-known personality trait: he couldn't stand people who had no sense of humor. Rabelais is notably the author of the famous phrase “Laughter is the nature of man”. A feeling that everyone can relate to. There is nothing more unpleasant than the company of someone who cannot laugh.

But it is this reality which inspired the word “agélaste” to Rabelais. The word "agélaste" comes from the Greek, with "a" meaning private and "gelos" meaning laughter. This word therefore refers to someone who never laughs or who has no sense of humor. Le Figaro recalls the words of the Czech writer Milan Kundera, who died in July 2023, who specifies that Rabelais used this word "to name those who have no sense of humor and who had been so atrocious against him that he almost stopped writing."

Although this word has not entered common parlance, it has nevertheless been taken up by several writers. Honoré de Balzac, in particular, took it up in his work Les Cents Contes Drolatiques published in 1832, where he took up the style of several authors, including Rabelais. The work is produced in a language with parodied spelling, where we read for example in the prologue: "Some have reproached the Author for not knowing the language of the old days any more than hares know each other making fagots "In the past, these people would have been rightly called cannibals, agelasts, sycophants, or even a few from the good city of Gomorrah."

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