Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Subnovitripartient

Meaning: in a ratio of one to nine and three parts; in the example used by Sir Thomas, nine and three eighths, or 9.375.

Usefulness: 3 (I suspect this word's main use is to impress people; you could, for example, describe the Hogwarts railway platform as the platform of subnovitripartient fourths.)

Logofascination: 1 (Built from blocks of Latin: sub-, used in this case to reverse the ratio; novi-, nine; tri-, three; partient, dividing. The sub- indicates that it's one to nine and three parts, rather than vice versa.)

In the wild: Gets a mention in Joseph Shipley's The Origins of English Words.  This word only appears in Sir Thomas' Ekskybalauron, so Mr Shipley is obviously among the logofascinated - not particularly surprising in an etymologist.

Degrees: 0

Connections: n/a

Which is used in: Ekskybalauron, on the very last page. Sir Thomas has made a list of the Scottish Colonels he has mentioned, but goes on to say that he couldn't make a list of the Scots renowned for 'literature and personal valour' because he would have to leave too many out. The ratio will apparently
bear the analogy, to use a lesser definite for a greater indefinite, of a subnovitripartient eights; that is to say, in plain English, the whole being the dividend, and my nomenclature the divisor, the quotient would be nine, with a fraction of three-eights; or yet more clearly, as the proportion of 72 to 675. 
Sir Thomas is using dividend in its original sense of 'something to be divided'. Shipley's example is the simpler 8 to 75*, but Sir Thomas uses bigger numbers, presumably because they're more impressive.

I'm thinking of using "the lesser definite for a greater indefinite" as a disclaimer on my financial reports.


*8/75 and 72/675 obviously both equal 9.375.

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