"lignum vitae" -- figurative adjective, 1739

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Mon Apr 29 22:40:53 UTC 2013

"There are yet a good many more Lignum Vitae Words needing explication".

New England Weekly Journal, 1739 Sept. 11, 1/3.  In a letter much of
which criticizes the medical terminology used in a previous letter
(to another newspaper).

Not in OED2 under "lignum vitae, n."  Latinate for "hard (words)" =
"hard names" = "real or bogus jargon ... making free with neologisms."

"Hard names" is not in the OED under either "hard" or names", but the
earliest quotation containing the phrase is under "pierce, v." and
fits the above example to a T.

1563   T. Gale Certaine Wks. Chirurg. iv. To Rdr. sig. Aaaiiii,   The
hard names of medicines by oft reding will be persed.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list