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Eutrapelia comes from the Greek for 'wittiness' (εὐτραπελία), referring to pleasantness in conversation. It is one of Aristotle's virtues, the "golden mean" between boorishness (ἀγροικία) and buffoonery (βωμολοχία). When construed narrowly, eutrapelia is associated with an emotion in the same manner modesty and righteousness are associated with emotion while it is not tied to any particular emotion when construed in wider terms and classified with truthfulness, friendliness, and dignity in the category of mean-dispositions that cannot be called pathetikai mesotetes.[1] Later on it came to mostly signify jokes that were obscene and coarse. The word appears only once in the New Testament, in Ephesians 5:4, where it is translated "coarse jesting" in the NIV.

Thomas Aquinas viewed eutrapelia in a positive light, favoring the Aristotelian notion that it is constituted by mental relaxation and honorable fun.[2] In Summa Theologica, he made it the virtue of moderation in relation to jesting.[2] By the second half of thirteenth century, concept, which was considered a state of judicious pleasure was still considered by commentators as a virtue.[3]


  1. ^ Fortenbaugh, William (2006). Aristotle's Practical Side: On his Psychology, Ethics, Politics and Rhetoric. Leiden: BRILL. p. 147. ISBN 9789004151642.
  2. ^ a b Screech, Michael (2015). Laughter at the Foot of the Cross. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 138. ISBN 9780226245119.
  3. ^ Page, Christopher (1990). The Owl and the Nightingale: Musical Life and Ideas in France 1100-1300. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. p. 38. ISBN 0520069447.
  • Foster, Edgar. "Foster's Theological Reflections: Brief Word Study on Eutrapelia". Retrieved 2009-06-02.
  • Hoffmann, Tobias. “Eutrapelia: The Right Attitude toward Amusement.” In Mots médiévaux offerts à Ruedi Imbach, edited by Iñigo Atucha, Dragos Calma, Catherine König-Pralong, and Irene Zavattero, 267–77. F.I.D.E.M. Textes et études du moyen âge. Porto: Fédération Internationale des Instituts d’Études Médiévales, 2011.