Palin and Lalia
Theological Terms I
Theological Terms II
Theol. Terms III
Noso and Noce/Nocu
Milton, Book I (PL)
Oo and Ovi
Labors of Hercules I
Oblectation et al.
Dissimulare et al.
Acroama et al.
Tetrous et al.
Commeate et al.
Obsolete et al.
Subtle et al. I
Hesitate et al. (Ovid)
Excoriate et al. I
Excoriate et al. II
Bill Long 1/1/09
With Appearances from Dimication, Preconize, Obrute, Oblect and Acroama
1. Cicero, in his speech in defense of the poet Archias, often uses the verb dimicare. Dimicare derives from di or dis (an intensive) and micare, to move quickly to and fro, shake, vibrate, or flash. Dimicare, however, means to contend, battle or fight--a sort of intensified shaking, vibrating, flashing, I suppose. The verb didn't come into English, but the noun dimication, which the OED says is "now rare," did. It means "fighting; strife, contention." From the London Times of 1884: "In such a continual dimication...the defeated impersonations of error will be found fighting as briskly as ever they did to-morrow." Clarke's Ecclesiastical History, a 17th century book, talks about the "dimication which arose about Arius." Then, from Joseph Hall's 1847 Mystery of Godliness, we have: "Let us now be not more sparing of our tears, to wash off the memory of these our unbrotherly dimications." Not much help in English, but knowing the Latin root helps us twice.
2. Oblectare is a common verb used by Cicero also, and it means "delight, please, entertain, divert." Ob here is an intensive, and lectare really derives from lacto/lactere, the frequentative of lacere, which means "to entice." I suppose once you entice someone intensively, you delight or entertain them. In English we have oblect, oblectment, oblectate, and oblectation--all derived directly from oblectare. From 1620: "There are divers kinds of mixt sauces devised & composed...to oblectate the pallate." From 1650: "That which adorns the back or oblectates the palat and throat." I can see that they really didn't know how to spell palate in those days... I love the quotation from a 1508 work on the Penitential Psalms: "If every oblectation of synne shall be done awaye by wepynge.." From 1660: "Pleasant Hills, or shadowie Vallies, delightful Meadows, or other like Oblectations." If you went around today talking about how this or that provides you with great oblectation someone would probably call the cops...
Oh, by the way, we also have the word delectation, which means almost the same thing, though after 1700 the difference between the two seemed to be that delectation referred to more trivial pleasures or distractions while oblectation was reserved for more deeply sensual and spirital enjoyments.
3. While on "ob," let's look at obrute and its relatives. And, I have to confess, I was waylaid on the way to obrute, and it will take me the rest of the essay to get out of the digression, but first let's head to obrute. It derives from the Latin obruere, which means to throw down, overthrow, overwhelm, cover or bury. From 1542: "If ye seriously consyder the misery wherwith ye were obruted & overwhelmed before, ye shall easily perceive that ye have an earnest cause to rejoice." I think if you always have in mind "uprooted," you won't be too distant from the meaning of obrute. Obrute can also be an adjective, meaning the same thing. The quotation from 1628 also brings in another concept: "And the Callidum Innatum, no way obrute (ovewhelmed or buried) but freed from extinction, yeeldes to no forraigne contagion." By the way, the Callidum Innatum is the "vital flame" or "inward spirit" in a person.
4. But now that I am on this "obr" page, I had to wander futher. There are only about a dozen Google "hits" for obruendarium, but I wanted to note it, not only because the word appears in the Century but also because it is a term from ancient archaeology--a field of which I know a little. An obruendarium is derived from the gerundive of obruere (obruendus) and means "a vessel used to conceal another; specifically, the large pot of coarse earthenware often found containing a cinerary urn of glass or other delicate material." And, we have a picture of such a pot/vessel here (bottom of p. 412). You kind of wonder who invented the term; it seems to have fallen out of use just as quickly as it came into use.
5. I then noticed obryzum, from the Greek phrase obryzon chrysion, which means "pure gold." It means "fine or pure gold; gold tested in fire." The OED spells it obrizum. From a civil engineering journal of 1839: "Obrizum was the purest gold, which, after having passed several times through the fire, acquired a brighter colour." Then, from the 17th century, in a theological work, one has: "The golden calf..In which is handled the..wonder of nature, in transmuting materias; viz. how the intire substance of lead, was in one moment transmuted into gold-obrizon." I wonder what the reaction of peple in the gold market would be if you told them you were only interested in obrizum....
6. I coulnd't resist closing this essay with the word obolary. An obolos is a small Greek coin. Thus, something obolary is "pertaining to or consisting of obols or small coins." But the word then took on the meaning of "reduced to the possession of only the smallest coins; hence, impecunious, poor." Charles Lamb, in his 1823 essay entitled "The Two Races of Men," uses this quotation of questionable utility today--though it illustrates the word. "He is the true taxer who 'calleth all the world up to be taxed;' and the distance is as vast between him and one of us, as subsisted betwixt the Augustan Majesty and the poorest obolary Jew that paid it tribute-pittance at Jerusalem!" The next time someone asks me how I am doing financially, I think I should say that I am an obolary man. I wonder how many would ask for clarification...
There are more words I need to discuss, in the next essay.
Copyright © 2004-2009 William R. Long