What is haggard?

What Does haggard Mean

The Latin word malicentus arrived in Castilian as haggard . The definition of the term offered by the Royal Spanish Academy ( RAE ) in its dictionary refers to someone thin and emaciated .

Sick appearance
Macilento, therefore, is an adjective . A haggard individual is very thin and unhealthy : on the contrary, he is pale and weak. The concept is also used to qualify what is proper or characteristic of this type of subject.

A man whose appearance denotes thinness and health problems

For example: "The victim described the attacker as a tall, haggard man, about forty-five years old" , "The singer again appeared in public after eight months and was alarmed by his haggard appearance" , "The haggard face of the The old man was moved by the appearance of the girl, who smiled as soon as she saw him ” .

It is curious that a criminal looks haggard and, anyway, manages to carry out his attack; However, the fear that invades us when we are assaulted reduces our ability to respond.
Figuratively
Sometimes haggard has a symbolic use that refers to something unhealthy, flimsy or fragile . We can find this meaning of the notion in various notes published in newspapers and magazines .
Suppose that a journalist writes: "The deputy tried to promote a gaunt project that did not get support even in his own block . " In this case, the communicator seeks to convey that the project in question was not robust, which made it unlikely that it could move forward.
Let's look at another case : "The investigators tried to establish a perimeter to catch the murderer, but this gaunt fence did not work since, somehow, the criminal escaped again . " As you can see, there was an attempt to capture a criminal that was not effective.
Given that in its most direct meaning this adjective serves to describe a person who does not look strong or healthy, but seems too weak to overcome even the fundamental actions of day to day, such as walking, when used in a figurative sense it subtracts a considerable volume of force from the noun it modifies. A haggard plan , therefore, has little chance of succeeding.
Etymology of «haggard»
As mentioned above, its etymological root leads us to the Latin term macilentus , which had a slight difference in its meaning from the one we assign it today: although both are defined as "skinny", gaunt can also refer to to a "loss of color ", while macilentus replaces this meaning by "wasteful."

There is evidence that this word was used at least from the 3rd century BC. C., as can be seen in some texts by the playwright Tito Maccio Plauto . Regarding its composition, we find the suffix -ulentus , which indicates abundance; in some cases, the first U is replaced by an I , very common in Latin before L . Powdery and truculent are two other examples of this suffix.

A haggard child: thin and pale

We can also note the adjective macer , which is translated as "thin", and which in this case acts as a root. It also emerged verb macrare ( "thin"), which later came to our language as emaciate and its adjective gaunt , plus the word lean and enmagrecer .
Returning to the Latin adjective, its root is * mak- , which we can find in several Indo-European languages ​​to designate the "long and thin". As a curious fact, this Indo-European root is not interpreted in the same way in Greek, where "large size " is emphasized and not thin. It is for this reason that we couple the adjective makrós to many neologisms to give the idea of ​​"great", as occurs with macrobiotic, macroeconomics, macrocephalus and macrocosm .

Go up