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Affluenza is a portmanteau, which is a word coined by blending the spelling and sounds of two words to invent a third word. We will look at the definition of affluenza, where the word comes from and some examples of its use in sentences.

Affluenza describes the psychological problems associated with the very rich and privileged, particularly the young. These problems are malaise, guilt, isolation, lack of motivation, overconsumption, disconnection and feelings of being above the rules. The word affluenza is a portmanteau of the words affluence and influenza. Fred Whitman, a wealthy San Franciscan takes credit for coining the term affluenza in the 1950s as a somewhat humorous description of the children of inherited wealth. The term gained influence in the 1990s and early 2000s, but became a household word in 2013 when the concept of affluenza was used in a court case. Ethan Couch killed four people in a reckless driving incident. His lawyer blamed Couch’s actions on his overindulged upbringing, saying he suffered from affluenza. Couch was initially sentenced to drug and alcohol rehabilitation and probation. He promptly violated that probation, and after an international manhunt, was captured and jailed for two years.


At trial, Ethan Couch’s lawyer argued that he was a spoiled, rich teenager whose privilege prevented him from distinguishing right from wrong — a condition the defense called “affluenza.” (The Washington Post)

Affluenza first became a term used in the courts and the media after Ethan Couch, a now 19-year-old in Texas who, because of his indulgent childhood, was said not to be responsible for running over and killing several people while he was stoned and drunk, as reported by the Inquisitr. (The Inquisitr)