Eutrapelia comes from the Greek for "wittiness" (εὐτραπελία) and refers to pleasantness in conversation, with ease and a good sense of humor. It is one of Aristotle's virtues, being the "golden mean" between boorishness (ἀγροικία) and buffoonery (βωμολοχία).[1]

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 is classified with truthfulness, friendliness, and dignity in the category of mean-dispositions that cannot be called pathetikai mesotetes.[2]

Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274), viewed eutrapelia in a positive light, again, favoring the ancient Aristotelian notion that it is constituted by mental relaxation and honorable fun.[3] In the Summa Theologica, Aquinas made it the virtue of moderation in relation to jesting.[3]

By the second half of thirteenth century, the concept was considered a state of judicious pleasure and returned to being considered a virtue by commentators.[4]

The term, eutrapely, is derived from eutrapelia and, since 1596, shares the original meaning of wittiness in conversations.[5]


  1. ^ Aristotle. The Nicomachean Ethics. IV.8.
  2. ^ Fortenbaugh, William (2006). Aristotle's Practical Side: On his Psychology, Ethics, Politics and Rhetoric. Leiden: Brill. p. 147. ISBN 9789004151642.
  3. ^ a b Screech, Michael (2015). Laughter at the Foot of the Cross. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 138. ISBN 9780226245119.
  4. ^ Page, Christopher (1990). The Owl and the Nightingale: Musical Life and Ideas in France 1100–1300. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press. p. 38. ISBN 0520069447.
  5. ^ Garg, Anu (December 20, 2019). "eutrapely". A Word A Day.

See also