Words: aboulia, n.

OUTSIDE THE changing-rooms at the London Library, the 18th-century scholar Keith Walker replied to my enquiry after his health, "I'm suffering from aboulia today."

Reason enough, then, to slope off to lunch and discussion of aboulia, a word unknown to Johnson, who certainly suffered from it. From the Greek, it means that loss of willpower which has one mooching about, and was first recorded in Dunglison's Medical Lexicon in the middle of the last century.

But our talk was then scuppered by a stripe- shirted banker at the next table, who, quaffing water, brayed of a meeting with the President of Citibank about the credit-card market: "We're anticipating sector response." Would that he suffered from aboulia.