A recent New York Times article about procrastination begins with an etymology lesson:

Etymologically, “procrastination” is derived from the Latin verb procrastinare — to put off until tomorrow. But it’s more than just voluntarily delaying. Procrastination is also derived from the ancient Greek word akrasia — doing something against our better judgment.

The first part is obvious, but the second part struck me as odd, since I'm not aware of any etymological link between the Latin cras ("tomorrow") and Greek κρατέω, krateō, from which akrasia derives.

Is this a valid etymology? If not, is it a common folk etymology, or just a one-off false claim by the article?

  • 4
    I noticed too -- it looks like a bit of linguistic cluelessness on the part of the author and editor, who didn't stop to think about whether a word can be simultaneously derived from two separate words in different languages. It's just another example of how when it comes to claims about language in the popular press, anything goes.
    – TKR
    Commented Mar 26, 2019 at 20:53

1 Answer 1


It seems to be an invention of the author.

As you say, procrastinate comes from the Latin (from cras "tomorrow"). It's complete coincidence that it looks similar to acrasia "weakness of will"; the two have no etymological connection that I can find.

I can't find any other instances of this folk etymology on the web, so I would guess the author of this article just made it up.

  • 2
    While it's really not that important, a quick Gooogle search for both terms seems to show that this "relation" has been floating about for a while. It seems to me that the author merely made the conceptual leap from a vague claim of being "related" to a false claim of being "derived."
    – brianpck
    Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 12:07

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