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Dr George’s Old-fashioned Fancies II

Wordy Weekly XXXIII

Do you know a good punning put down?

I do indeed, there is no better put down than a Latin deponent verb. (Dr George’s Classicist friends groan loudly at the badness and nerdiness of the joke). For non-Classicists, ‘deponent’ comes from the Latin ‘to put down’, hence the…okay, I won’t labour the point. Latin deponent verbs are pretty cool. But I won’t bore you with the scintillating grammatical characteristics of these neat little…


Sorry, on with the Wordy Weekly. We actually met one in week three of the Wordy Weekly as we began our derivative linguistic journey through the alphabet. ‘Aggression’ was one of the Latin derivatives of the week, which came from the Latin verb adgredior, ‘to attack’. Well, here are a few more.

What is a ‘sequence’? A series of things that logically follow on, be it numbers, letters, or something of the Only Connect variety. The key words in the definition were things that ‘FOLLOW’ on. ‘Sequence’ comes from the Latin deponent verb ‘sequor, sequi, secutus sum’, specifically the present participle, sequens. If a series of events follow on from one another, they are con-SECUT-ive, i.e., they follow one after the other. The stem of the word comes form the past tense of sequor.

And now for Dr George’s Old-fashioned Fancies: GRANDILOQUENT, SUAVILOQUENT, SOLILOQUISE. You may well have spotted that these three words, apart from being deliciously multi-syllabic and a sadly a little dated and too-little-used, are built around the stem -LOQUE-, the first two ending in -LOQUENT. This comes from the Latin deponent verb loquor, loqui, locutus sum, ‘I speak, say’. So, these three charming examples of the great English language all have something to do with speaking.

SOLILOQUISE means to speak one’s train of thought while one is alone. The ‘soli-’ comes from Latin solus, alone, where we also get SOLO from.

Now, the other two refer to styles of speaking. ‘GRANDILOQUENT’ means a style of speech that is extravagant in language and manner, and often refers to a speech that is intended to impress, and pompous.

The Latin grandis means ‘abundant’ or ‘large’, so ‘GRANDILOQUENT’ is basically a rather eloquent (whoops, another derivative, ha ha) way of saying ‘talking big’.

SUAVILOQUENT is a rather gentler word, meaning ‘sweetly spoken’, or ‘speaking sweetly’. Suavis in Latin means sweet or smooth, hence the English word SUAVE.

So, when a friend gives a charming speech with beautiful language, say ‘most suaviloquent’, rather than ‘oh, how sweet!’.

I love the verb loquor as the source of cool English words and here are a couple more, both cognates one from the present tense (loquor), another from the perfect (locutus). If you have a friend who enjoys talking enthusiastically and, shall we say, takes a while to get to the point, then they are guilty of CIRCUMLOCUTION. It can refer to a deliberate attempt to be vague, evasive or ‘obfuscate’ (oh, another old-fashioned fancy from the Latin ‘to make dark’) the real issue. ‘CIRCUM’ means around, so such a person is talking ‘around’ the issue. They may be said to be CIRCUMLOQUACIOUS. So, if someone is ‘beating about the bush’, tell them not to be so ‘CIRCUMLOQUACIOUS’!

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