Category Archives: Vocabulary

Ventriloquy

Ventriloquy: The act, art or practice of speaking in such a manner that the voice appears to come not from the person, but from some distant place.

Ventriloquy comes from the Latin word ventriloquus which itself comes from two other Latin words. Venter means stomach or belly.  And loqui means to speak.  So, a ventriloquist is someone who appears to be speaking, not with the mouth, but with, perhaps, the stomach.

The ancients believed that a person practicing ventriloquy was under duress, or under the spell of a demonic power, or the power of a deity.

Two words, same meaning

In our series, “Word Up: Live!” this morning, we looked at two English words.  Here they are:

Loquacious: talkative; garrulous; apt to blab and disclose secrets.

Loquacious comes from the Latin verb loquor, meaning “I speak”.

Here are a few example sentences:

“He lacked close friends as he was loquacious, brawling, and ever in the wrong.”

A student in class came up with the following:

“The loquacious man was unable to keep his friend’s secret.”

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The next word, which means almost the same thing is multiloquent.

Multiloquent: Excessive talkativeness; loquaciousness; prolixity. 

Multiloquent comes from two Latin words.  Multus means, much or many.  The Latin verb loquor, means “I speak”.  Together they create the word multiloquent.

Here are a few example sentences:

“During the concert, the multiloquent singer bored us by talking excessively between each song.”

“Tripped up by his own multiloquence, the speaker stammered during his speech.”

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Interlocutor

Interlocutor: a person who participates in a dialogue or takes part in a conversation; a talker, or a mediator between others.

Interlocutor comes from the Latin inter, meaning “between” and the Latin verb loquor, meaning “I speak”.

For example:

“After our difficult conversation, we thought it might be best to continue with the help of an interlocutor.”

“The Duke, acting as interlocutor, was speaking with the queen when the king entered the conversation.”

Colloquy

Good morning, everyone. Today in Word Up: Live! we looked at the word colloquy.

Colloquy: a conversation, a conference; a dialogue; especially a formal conversation.

Colloquy comes from the Latin word for conversation, colloquium. And, colloquium comes from the Latin prefix com, meaning “with” and from the Latin verb loquor, meaning “I speak”.

During our colloquy in class, we discovered the source of the word breviloquence.

90% of our multi-syllable words in English come from Latin. If you want to pour gasoline on your vocabulary building efforts, feel free to join us every morning (except Sundays). Class is free. Register here:

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Here is today’s episode:

Keep it breviloquent.

Breviloquence: A brief, laconic, terse way of speaking.  Brevity of speech.

When Alexander’s father, King Philip, threatened to attack the Spartans, he said: “If I invade Laconia (homeland of the Spartans), I will raze it to the ground.”  The Spartans responded with bevilioquence, “If”.

Breviloquence comes from two Latin words.  Brevis means short and loquor. which means “I speak”. From loquor, English also derives the words eloquence, allocution, and circumlocution.

Circumlocution

Circumlocution: an indirect way of speaking when you would rather avoid speaking clearly, speaking directly, or getting to the point. An evasive way of speaking.
 
Try to get a straight answer out of a politician. Good luck. Politicians are known for their circumlocution. Which reminds me of my favorite quote on politicians:
 
“Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress, but I repeat myself.” – Mark Twain 
 
Circumlocution comes from two Latin words. Circum means around. Loquor, which means “I speak” also gives us the English words eloquence, allocution, and obloquy.

Colloquialism

My girls and I were reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis when the word colloquialism popped up.  Here is the sentence:

“In my talks, I used all the contractions and colloquialisms I ordinarily use in conversation.”  – C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity. 

I asked my girls what the word colloquialism meant.

Here is my daughter’s guess:

Phrases and expressions used in normal conversation

She got it.  Here is Google’s definition:

a word or phrase that is not formal or literary, typically one used in ordinary or familiar conversation.

Colloquialism comes from the Latin prefix con, which became col before the letter l, and the Latin verb loquor, meaning, “I speak”.