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Friday, June 04, 2004

Learn something every day...

From this year's National Spelling Bee, young Nicholas Truelson correctly spelled OPHELIMITY, which means "economic satisfaction" or what economists today call "utility." I am sure there was a struggle in the field over which term would prevail, and I am also sure that undergraduate economics students are happy that "utility" carried the day.


I did find ophelimity mentioned in one of my notebooks from graduate school. From the esteemed Vilfredo Pareto,
"We will say that the members of a collectivity enjoy maximium ophelimity in a certain position when it is impossible to find a way of moving from that position very slightly in such a manner that the ophelimity enjoyed by each of the individuals of that collectivity increases or decreases. That is to say, any small displacement in departing from that position necessarily has the effect of increasing the ophelimity which certain individuals enjoy, and decreasing that which others enjoy, of being agreeable to some, and disagreeable to others."

(V. Pareto (1906), Manual of Political Economy, 1971 translation of 1927 edition, New York: Augustus M. Kelley, p.261).


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