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Viz. (also rendered viz without a period) and the adverb videlicet are used as synonyms for "namely", "that is to say", and "as follows".
Viz. is the medieval scribal abbreviation for videlicet; it specifically uses a Tironian abbreviation. It comprises the letters v and i followed by ⁊,[note 1] the common Medieval Latin contraction for et and -et. It has been included in Unicode since version 5.1. The current use of ⁊ to also mean "and" (regardless of what word means "and" in the text's language) is the only other case of remaining usage of any Tironian abbreviation.
Videlicet is a contraction of Classical Latin vidēre licet, which meant "it may be seen; evidently; clearly" (vidēre, to see; licet, third person singular present tense of licēre, "to be permitted"). In Latin, videlicet was used to confirm a previous sentence or to state its contrary.
Viz. is an abbreviation of videlicet, which itself is a contraction from Latin of "videre licet" meaning "it is permitted to see". Both forms introduce a specification or description of something stated earlier; this is often a list preceded by a colon (:). Although both forms survived in English, viz. is far more common than videlicet.
- Viz. is usually read aloud as "that is", "namely", or "to wit", but is sometimes pronounced as it is spelt, viz.: //.
A similar expression is scilicet, abbreviated as sc., which is Latin for "it is permitted to know". Sc. provides a parenthetic clarification, removes an ambiguity, or supplies a word omitted in preceding text, while viz. is usually used to elaborate or detail text which precedes it. In legal usage, scilicet appears abbreviated as ss. or, in a caption, as §, where it provides a statement of venue[clarification needed] and is read as "to wit". Scilicet can be read as "namely", "to wit", or "that is to say", or pronounced // or //.
- The main point of his speech, viz. that our attitude was in fact harmful, was not understood.
- "My grandfather had four sons who grew up, viz.: Thomas, John, Benjamin and Josiah."
- The noble gases, viz., helium, neon, argon, xenon, krypton, and radon, show an unexpected behavior when exposed to this new element.
- Brewer, Ebenezer (1970). Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. New York: Harper & Row. p. 1132.
- The New Fowler's Modern English Usage (revised third edition, 1998), pp. 825, 828.
- American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (fourth edition, 2000), p. 1917
- AMHER (fourth edition, 2000), p. 1917.
- Black's Law Dictionary (sixth edition, 1990), p. 1403.
- AMHER (fourth edition, 2000), p. 1560.
- The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin at Project Gutenberg.
- According to E. Cobham Brewer (1810–1897), Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, the same abbreviation mark was used for "habet" and "omnibus".