Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Etymology Today from M-W: voracious \vor-AY-shus\
1 : having a huge appetite : ravenous
*2 : excessively eager : insatiable

"Voracious" is one of several English words that derive from the Latin verb "vorare," which means "to eat" or "to devour." "Vorare" is also an ancestor of our "devour" and of the "-ivorous" words, which describe the diets of various animals. These include "carnivorous" (meat-eating), "herbivorous" (plant-eating), "omnivorous" (feeding on both animals and plants), "frugivorous" (fruit-eating), "graminivorous" (feeding on grass), and "piscivorous" (fish- eating).

E.T. Latin phraseology bonus, also from M-W: ab ovo \ab-OH-voh\ (adverb)
: from the beginning

"Ab ovo usque ad mala." That phrase translates as "from the egg to the apples," and it was penned by the Roman poet Horace. He was alluding to the Roman tradition of starting a meal with eggs and finishing it with apples. Horace also applied "ab ovo" in an account of the Trojan War that begins with the mythical egg of Leda from which Helen (whose beauty sparked the war) was born. In both cases, Horace used "ab ovo" in its literal sense, "from the egg," but by the 16th century Sir Philip Sidney had adapted it to its modern English sense, "from the beginning": "If [the dramatic poets] wil represent an history, they must not (as Horace saith) beginne Ab ouo: but they must come to the principall poynt of that one action."

Previous E.T.

No comments: