I’ve written a paper on the conceptualisation of the phenomenon that is the opposite of poverty. You know, the state in which people who are rich find themselves. Let’s call it ‘richness’. My problem is that ‘richness’ is, to the best of my knowledge, not a word in English. So I need a new word, one that is acceptable to the English language police but that captures what the Germans call Reichtum, the Dutch/Flemish rijkdom, and so on and so forth.
In my paper I’ve called this ‘affluence’. Yet native speakers have on several occasions told me that ‘affluence’ is misleading to denote the upper tail of the material-possessions-distribution, since apparently those who have English as a mother tongue would regard many affluent as non-rich. The two notions (‘affluence’ and ‘richness’) do not coincide, as ‘affluence’ includes a larger group of people.
Similarly, I’ve been advised by an English philosopher to drop the word ‘wealth’ (which I used in an earlier version), since we all have some wealth. Even if you only own a two-pound coin, that is your wealth. Still, wealth seems like a serious contender for the word I’m looking for since one definition has it as ‘a large amount of income and valuable possessions that someone has’. But unfortunately I’m not interested in that posession, but rather in that state of affairs in which that person finds herself. ‘Wealthness’, so to say – but that word is as nonexisting as ‘richness’.
So I played around with the term ‘opulence’. While that is an official word in English, apparently it denotes a situation in which someone has a luxurous and expensive lifestyle. According to this online dictionary, ‘opulent’ refers to “rich in appearance, showing great wealth”. Since I’m interested in conceptualising the state of affairs of those who are (very) rich, whether they show off their wealth or not, ‘opulence’ is not the word that I am looking for either. There will be rich people who are not ‘opulent’ and I want to capture the state in which all rich people find themselves.
Who helps me out of this?