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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Word of the Day laissez-faire

Word of the Day

  • laissez-faire
  • audio pronunciation
  • \less-ay-FAIR\
: a doctrine opposing governmental interference in economic affairs beyond the minimum necessary for the maintenance of peace and property rights
: a philosophy or practice characterized by a usually deliberate abstention from direction or interference especially with individual freedom of choice and action
"Laissez-faire is all well and good until something goes wrong." — John Gutfreund, quoted in The New York Times Book Review, April 18, 2010

"The International Olympic Committee said Monday that they were pleased at how athletes were using social media.… 'We take a very laissez-faire attitude,' IOC spokesman Mark Adams says." — From an article by Kelly Whiteside in USA Today, February 11, 2014
The French phrase "laissez-faire" literally means "allow to do," with the idea being "let people do as they choose." The origins of "laissez-faire" are associated with the Physiocrats, a group of 18th-century French economists who believed that government policy should not interfere with the operation of natural economic laws. The actual coiner of the phrase may have been French economist Vincent de Gournay, or it may have been François Quesnay, considered the group's founder and leader. The original phrase was "laissez faire, laissez passer," with the second part meaning "let (things) pass." "Laissez-faire," which first showed up in an English context in 1825, can still mean "a doctrine opposing governmental interference in economic affairs," but it is also used in broader contexts in which a "hands-off" or "anything-goes" policy or attitude is adopted.


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