Word of the Week – Myriad and Million

Word of the Week – Myriad and Million

When we think about  numbers, we don’t often consider that once upon a time, they didn’t go very high. But in fact, in ancient days, there weren’t words for anything greater than “ten thousand.” In the Ancient Greek and Roman eras, this was the largest number known, and myriad was the world used for it.

It was in fact because this was the largest named number that myriad also came to mean “countless, innumerable, vast amount.”

So what about million? It literally means “great thousand” and didn’t come along in any language until the 13th century. Even once it had taken on a more precise meaning, it was used only by mathematicians up into the 16th century!

 

Mock Latin Words 5

Mock Latin Words 5

I hope you’ve enjoyed the Mock Latin series! This is my final installment, and only one is mock Latin. The other two are just “mock” in general, but they were fun, so I thought I’d include them. 😉

AsquatulateThis is another word meant to poke fun at the person who speaks it, this time Londoners making fun of Americans. The word first appeared in a play, meaning “to make off or run away,” meant to be the opposite of the Latin squat, “to settle.” The closest synonym is actual skedaddle, go figure, LOL.

Rudesby – This is a mock surname, actually, meant to be applied to people who are, well, rude. Since so many last names were created by addding -by to the end of a place name, this construction is natural but simply meant to be a clever insult. It originated in 1560!

PanjandrumI find this one totally hilarious. Not only is it a fabricated word from the 1880s, it’s an insult (meant to be “a pompous person of power and pretension”), and also a test. Samuel Foote actually made up this word as one of many nonsense words in a long passage he gave to actor Charles Macklin to memorize when the actor said he could repeat absolutely anything verbatum after hearing it once. (I wonder if Macklin succeeded!?)

 

And there we have my mock–and mocking–word list. Hope it’s been fun!

Mock Latin Words 4

Mock Latin Words 4

Nearly through our Mock Latin series! I just have one more week of them after this one. 😉

Today we begin with a word I have used all the time, never realizing it was one of these “fake” constructions!

DiscombobulateSo obviously this is a fun word, which is why I use it all the time. But I didn’t realize it was made up to sound Latin! This word dates from 1834 and means “to upset or embarrass. The original form was actual discombobricate, which I didn’t know.

Confusticatethis one is not only mock-Latin, it’s also meant to mock the people saying it, which could open a whole other can of worms. Meant to imitate confound or confuse, this word first appeared in 1852 in a passage of a book as “Negro dialect.” I do find it interesting that this one was meant to make fun by implying that the speaker thought it was a real, intelligent word, while it’s in the pattern of so many other mock-Latin words that were funny because everyone knew they were fanciful and fabricated. Just goes to show how intent matters…

 

Come back next week for the final installment!

Mock Latin Words 3

Mock Latin Words 3

Time for the third installment of the Mock Latin series!

Omnium gatherum ~ So technically, this one is only partly “mock.” 😉 Omnium is indeed a Latin word for “of all things.” Kind of like miscellaneous. In the 1520s (this one is OLD!), people came up with the humorous addition of gatherum to put with it, just from the English “gather.” So of course if you gather all things, you end up with a motley collection, which is exactly what this phrase means. =)

Harum-scarum ~ This phrase actually originated in the 1670s as harum-starum. The harum part is taken from the verb “to harry or harrass,” and then the scarum was added mostly just to rhyme. The -um endings are abbreviations of “them,” the whole phrase meant to be a humurous mock-Latin that would quite literally mean “to harrass and scare them.”

 

Two installments left in my Mock series!

 

 

Mock Latin Words 2

Mock Latin Words 2

Today we’re continuing our Mock Latin series with a few more totally fabricated, totally joke words that make me smile. =)

CruciverbalistOur first word is actually quite new, dating from 1977. If you look at the parts of the word, we have the roots crux which means “cross” and verbum which means “word.” So…yep. Crossword. A cruciverbalist is someone who creates crossword puzzles! How fun is that?!

Olde – Okay, this isn’t mock Latin per se, but it is mock-archaic. Did you know that this form of “old” was totally made up in the 1880s?? I had no idea! But yep, olde was never actually a spelling of old. People came up with it solely to be cute while imitating archaic spellings.

 

Installment three will come next week!

Mock Latin Words 1

Mock Latin Words 1

After looking at circumbendibus last week, I decided it would be fun to do a series on Mock Latin words ~ words deliberately made up to sound like Latin even though they’re not. Since they’re completely fake, LOL, the etymology on these isn’t very long, so I’m going to just feature a couple in each post for a few weeks. =) Not much history to learn about them, but fun words to work into a conversation!

So here’s our first installment.

Boxianacreated in 1819, this word has to do with fighting/boxing and is meant to mean “the lore and annals of prize-fighting.” I can just imagine Regency gents talking about boxiana, can’t you?

Crinkum-crankumthis one almost sounds like a Harry Potter-esque magic word, doesn’t it? LOL. But in fact, it’s mock-Latin for “anything full of twists and turns; a winding or crooked line.” This word was created in the 1760s and is just so much fun to say that I’m going to have to make it a point to start using it. 😉 Or if it’s too much of a mouthful, you can shorten it to…

CrankumThis shorter form means “a twist” as per the word it’s shortened from, but it can also mean “an eccentricity.” Crankum dates from the 1820s.

 

Come back next week for the second installment!