Viz.

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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".

Etymology[edit]

Viz. is the medieval scribal abbreviation for videlicet; it specifically uses a Tironian abbreviation. It comprises the letters v and i followed by ,[1][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.

Usage[edit]

Viz. is an abbreviation of videlicet, which itself is a contraction from Latin of "videre licet" meaning "it is permitted to see".[2][3][4] 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.

In contradistinction to i.e. and e.g., viz. is used to indicate a detailed description of something stated before, and when it precedes a list of group members, it implies (near) completeness.

  • Viz. is usually read aloud as "that is", "namely", or "to wit",[5] but is sometimes pronounced as it is spelt, viz.: /ˈvɪz/.

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".[6] Scilicet can be read as "namely", "to wit", or "that is to say", or pronounced /ˈsɪlɨsɛt/ or /ˈsklɨkɛt/.[7]

Examples[edit]

  • 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."[8]
  • The noble gases, viz., helium, neon, argon, xenon, krypton, and radon, show an unexpected behavior when exposed to this new element.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Brewer, Ebenezer (1970). Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. New York: Harper & Row. p. 1132. 
  2. ^ OED
  3. ^ The New Fowler's Modern English Usage (revised third edition, 1998), pp. 825, 828.
  4. ^ American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (fourth edition, 2000), p. 1917
  5. ^ a b AMHER (fourth edition, 2000), p. 1917.
  6. ^ Black's Law Dictionary (sixth edition, 1990), p. 1403.
  7. ^ AMHER (fourth edition, 2000), p. 1560.
  8. ^ The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin at Project Gutenberg.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ According to E. Cobham Brewer (1810–1897), Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, the same abbreviation mark was used for "habet" and "omnibus".