Showing posts with label daily dose of Latin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label daily dose of Latin. Show all posts

Monday, March 11, 2013


Adventures in Logophilia, Day 181:


This adjective means having the wings extended as if in flight, like a heraldic bird; generally used to describe something flying or capable of flight, or simply quick and nimble - metaphorically, moving as if flying.  This is from the Latin verb volare, to fly.

Juvenile Least Tern in Flight
juvenile least tern in flight by mike forsman

Friday, March 1, 2013


Adventures in Logophilia, Day 171:


A tessera was a small tablet made of wood, clay or bone, which the Romans used as a ticket, tally-token, voucher or even a means of ID.  These came into play in The Hunger Games, as the number of tessera traded and bargained for by eligible candidates for the Games could mean the difference between surviving and starving under the rule of Panem.  It is just one of many Roman flavors Suzanne Collins gave her series. 

Thursday, February 28, 2013


Adventures in Logophilia, Day 170:


an arrangement of five things in a square in a square or rectangle, one at each corner and one in the middle.  I always think of five pillars when this word comes up: four pillars holding up a structure at each of the distinct corners, the fifth secretly holding up the middle. 

FOUR208 - The quincunx
A series of quincunx from an ancient puzzle.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Adventures in Logophilia, Day 168:


the symbol representing infinity, or (to be more mathematical) a figure-eight shaped curve whose polar coordinates are p²=a² .  This is from the Latin word lemniscata, meaning "hanging ribbons."


Thursday, December 13, 2012

AIL Day 93: congeries

Today's adventure in logophilia is


Congeries is a collective noun meaning "a disorderly collection or jumble."  This is taken from the Latin verb congerere "to heap up." 

This word best describes Christmas preparations - the intentions, the results, the mess in my room.  I cheer myself up by imagining that Santa's workshop is a terrible disaster (the mess!) and Christmas' best keep secret.  There's a reality television show for you: overworked elves who complain of constant foot pain due to long hours and the shoes they have to wear; piles of discarded toy parts; the floor a definite hazard with tinsel and glitter and glue everywhere; not to mention the reindeer leavings; interviews with the elves who maintain Santa's sleigh: "you wouldn't believe the mileage on this thing..."

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Adventures in Logophilia Day 15: Quidnunc

Today's word is...

A quidnunc (noun) is a person who seeks to know all the latest gossip or news, in other words a busybody.  In Latin, it is literally "what now?"

I think we all have quidnunc moments (it can be a verb - I've decided), and I don't mean this in a bad way.  Not every is "up" on celebrity gossip, but when events sweep the nation or the world, we can't help but chatter about it - turn around to our neighbor in the next cubicle or inquire of a roommate if they "heard" about that thing the president said or what the weather looks like: "Man, if we don't get rain soon..." It's only human nature to twitter about these things... which is why something like, well, Twitter exists.  We were tweeting long before it required an email address and a password, long before ampersands and hashtags.  We do it everyday, whether it's from a blog like Daedalus or over morning coffee.  News spreads like wildfire, and we've become very good at producing a faster, more intense burn.

I just love how Latin works its way into our era.  See?  Whoever said Latin was dead obviously didn't like words like this gem!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Adventures in Logophilia Day 11: Iota

Today's word is...

Iota (noun) is the ninth letter of the Greek alphabet, used in English to mean "a small, infinitesmal amount."  In astronomy, it signifies the ninth star in a constellation.  All signs point to jot.
I've just learned from Oxford Dictionaries that jot (the verb to write something down quickly) - as in "I'm jotting this down for you" or "I don't give a jot" - is the fifteenth century noun translated from the Greek word "iota" into Latin.  It makes sense to me (this was a "Eureka!" moment for me), because until recently "j" was not actually a part of the Latin alphabet, and "i" had most of its workload.  Iota must have had quite a normal entrance into English through this road: iota spelled with a "j." This opens up a world of writing whimsies for me: marginalia and doodles and random notes.  That thing you're scribbling down may not be scintillating to the person next to you, but it is vitally important.  I jot most of the time and not always on paper - it is the way we translate our stream-of-consciousness discoveries into a more permanent form.  Sometimes those jottings make it to a journal.  Sometimes they clutter my wall.  Sometimes they serve as bookmarks that cannot be thrown away.  They seem to be of infinitesmal importance, but really they're not.  We jot because it is of vital importance.  If I didn't jot, I'd lose threads of ideas that could fill my stories, or I'd forget to do something. 
Jots are like Ariadne's crimson thread guiding Theseus through the labyrinth and out of it again.  If I didn't jot, how would I find my way home again?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Adventures in Logophilia Day 8: Vade Mecem (Jillian)

After a thorough search, today's word, conveyed in to you in rudimentary calligraphy is...

Vade mecem (noun) is from the Latin (in case you couldn't tell) for "go with me" (or "come hither", as I'd say).  It is a book or manual for easy reference, or an item regularly carried about by a person.  Sometimes both, I'd imagine.

I'd like to think the blog (and perhaps Twitter) is the vade mecem of the internet age.  Now that many of us (not myself, however) have smarty-pants phones that connect to the internet and convey updates on our friends' thoughts, the latest celebrity melodrama or the weather.  We google from where we're standing.  We search and follow directions from these devices.  From an intellectual standpoint, the blog is a public journal, a different kind of vade mecem.  Depending on your subject matter, you're inviting your readers along for an adventure - not necessarily plotting directions but experiences.  I'd like to think that Daedalus is helpful - perhaps not a manual, but a source of encouragement to be carried about through the year.  This isn't my or Michelle's personal-minutia blog, but I'd hope we can share our challenges as writers. 

Honestly, this Autumn might be a tough one for me.  I might have mentioned it before, but I'm currently drafting a query letter for my novel.  I hope to get the first query sent to a literary agency in the next couple of weeks.  I've never done so before, and the more I think about it, the more it's like standing on the edge of an abyss.  The only way to know what lies beyond is take a leap of faith.  As that unfolds, I'm considering applying to a graduate creative writing program again.  I hope that through Daedalus you can come along with me on this journey in the dark, and we can figure out the world that is literary agents and publishing and graduate school applications together.  Who knows where we might end up?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Adventures in Logophilia - Ab Inito (Jillian)

It has been two months since I've put words into this blog.  It has been four years since Michelle and I launched this project, and life continues to meander, ebb and flow in different directions, in different moods.  We've been busy bees, going to school and writing novels.  I completed my grand endeavor, a novel, on 1 September, and as I go through the process of writing query letters and sending them out and waiting for responses, I'll be here resting from the long slog of the last fifteen months.  Depending on the weather (both figuratively and literally), I might document some of my experiences in the black hole that is publishing. 

But what will hopefully bring me to the blog on a regular basis is my lexicon.  I have been collecting fun, interesting, complicated, brilliant words for the last several years, and now have a whopping 2100 at my disposal.  I've gathered this definitions from Merriam-Webster and Oxford Dictionaries, but they are paraphrased and illustrated here in my own words.  Where better to explore them than Daedalus?  I won't blog on them all, of course, because that would take me six years.  I'll blog on the words that are most useful, most special to me.  Hopefully, you will find yourself becoming a logophiliac as well.

I'll begin at the beginning with...

Ab inito is an adverb from the Latin, meaning "from the beginning." 

Contrary to popular belief, in my opinion, Latin is most certainly not dead.  Though no one goes about this day in age striking up conversations in Latin, it is everywhere.  We still read it, pour over it, become captivated by the sound of its language, the way it's sung and spoken in some Christian circles.  Latin provides the foundation for so much of our language, and sometimes asserts an authoritative voice into an other wise dull statement, a grain of wisdom into what could be a shabby string of words.  Maybe it is like the physical vestiges of the Roman empire left standing all over Britain (Hadrian's Wall).  Or maybe it just sounds cool.  We could all do with a little more Latin in our daily lives!


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