Pangloss

Pangloss

ˈpanˌɡläs

Noun

  • A person who is optimistic regardless of the circumstances.

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Example Sentences

“As the storm soaked through our tent, my Pangloss of a husband suggested it was a chance to test our waterproof sleeping bags.”

“When our flight was delayed, the Pangloss in front of me cheered for the opportunity to get a meal at the airport.”

“My sister can find the silver lining in almost any situation, but she’s also a realist, not a Pangloss.” 

Word Origin

French, late 18th century

Why this word?

In Voltaire’s 1759 satire, “Candide, or Optimism,” the French Enlightenment writer and philosopher introduced Doctor Pangloss. This character was a satirical jab at metaphysical optimism, a popular theory of the time. To summarize very briefly, metaphysical optimism proposed that the actual world was the best possible one. Voltaire looked at the atrocities of his world (notably the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 and the Seven Years’ War) and wrote “Candide,” and the character of Pangloss, to satirize the risks of excessive optimism. This made “Pangloss” a critical term for someone who maintains optimism regardless of how dire circumstances may become.

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