Quite Too Utterly Utter

When I was in junior high, we had a most incredible teacher, Mrs. Shell. She was young, blonde, had an incredibly alluring physique, showing it off with very short skirts and just the right amount of exposed cleavage to leave us young lads panting. Mrs. Shell also was fierce as hell and brooked no sloth. That was back when teachers expected hard work and got it.

I had her for two years of Spanish and one of English (grammar and literature). My love of language is in no small part due to Mrs. Shell, as well as my willingness to stick with a new subject until it starts to make sense.

I thought of her today while pondering the definition of one of my favorite words, of which more in just a moment.

My mind flashed back to Mrs. Shell explaining something about positives, comparatives and superlatives. One of the slower kids was struggling to figure it all out, and somewhere along the way she, in an ironic manner, responded with, "It's all much too much." Which made me giggle, though no one else paid particular attention to what she had just said.

So, then my mind flashed to that hilarious satirical song written by Robert Coote way back in 1881: Quite Too Utterly Utter; A New Aesthetic Roundelay. As you will no doubt surmise, this farcical piece (which became exceedingly popular) was a poke at Oscar Wilde who had just arrived in London and was creating a sensation with all manner of flamboyant behavior. Indeed, Gilbert and Sullivan staged their opera, Patience, the same year and its lead character is again patently a take on Oscar and the new aesthetic craze. 

And this leads directly to my word for today. Though I've been fond of the word (and the condition) for nigh onto fifty years now, it was only today I bothered to look it up to see how lexicographers treat it. Here's the word and what I found:

satyriasis, (n.): excessive sexual craving in a male.

So my question is, how does a medical doctor determine the level at which the craving is considered excessive? I personally think it would take a hell of a diagnostician to pin that one down. Moreover, if ever there was a case of the cure being worse than the disease, this is it! (Incidentally, the aphorism just used comes to us from Francis Bacon.)

Much too much? Quite too utterly utter?

Perhaps Hamlet's injunction would be helpful as we sort this out:
Suit the action to the word, the word to the action...
Following that dictum, I'd suggest that Goldilocks' final response is far better:
"Ahhh, this porridge is just right," she said happily and she ate it all up.
Let's drop that adjective "excessive"!

Next installment: Why I Am Not an Atheist

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