March 01, 2008

Fidimplicitary: A Word for These Times

One of my weekly pleasures is Michael Quinion's World Wide Words Newsletter, available for (free) subscription via, but footnoted with this chastening injunction:

This formatted version of the newsletter is intended for the private use of subscribers. Please do not reproduce it in this format in whole or part on any Web site or post a link to this page without the prior permission of the author.
OK, fair enough, that's how MQ wants it, and I encourage you to subscribe, for sure. Each week brings several gems of Wordstuff, just the thing for those of us who fancy a bit of orotundity now and again. This week's toothsome Weird Word is Fidimplicitary, which Quinion glosses as "Putting one's faith in someone else's views", a phenomenon not unknown in campaign season... He goes on to trace the word to a coinage of Sir Thomas Urquhart (1652), reprinted (thanks to Google Print) in The Works of Sir Thomas Urquhart of Cromarty, Knight ("92 copies printed, some on large paper", this one from Oxford's library), in a section headlined as "Logopandecteision" (page image). Here's some of the text, with especially juicy bits bolded:
60. If any officious critick will run to the omnipotency of God for framing more worlds, according to the common saying, Nothing is impossible to God, that implies not a contradiction, so must he have recourse to the same omnipotent power for furnishing of man with other speech-tools then his tongue, throat, roof of the mouth, lips, and teeth, before the contexture of another universal language can be warped.

61. That I should hit upon the invention of that, for the furtherance of philosophy, and other disciplines and arts, which never hitherto hath been so much as thought upon by any, and that in a matter of so great extent, as the expressing of all the things in the world, both in themselves, actions, ways of doing, situation, pendicles, relations, connexions, pathetick interpositions, and all other appurtenances to a perfect elocution, without being beholding to any language in the world ; insomuch as one word will hardly be believed by our fidimplicitary gown-men, who, satisfied with their predecessors' contrivances, and taking all things litterally, without examination, blaterate, to the nauseating even of vulgar ears, those exotick proverbs, There is no new thing under the sun, Nihil dictum quod non dictum prius, and, Beware of philosophers; authorizating this on Paul, the first on Solomon, and the other on Terence.

62. But, poor souls, they understand not that in the passage of Solomon is meant, that there is no innovation in the essence of natural things ; all transmutations on the same matter, being into forms, which, as they differ from some, so have an essential uniformity with others pre-existent in the same kind.

63. And when it was said by Paul, Beware of philosophers, he meant such sophisters as themselves, who, under the vizzard of I know not what, corrupt the channels of the truth, and pervert all philosophy and learning.

64. As for the sayings of Terence, whether Scipio couched them or himself, they ought to be inferred rather as testimonies of neat Latine, then for asserting of infallible verities.

65. If there hath been no new thing under the sun, according to the adulterate sense of those pristinary lobcocks, how comes the invention of syllogisms to be attributed to Aristotle, that of the sphere to Archimedes, and logarithms to Napier? It was not Swart, then, and Gertudenburg, that found out gunpowder and the art of printing, for these two men lived after the decease of Solomon.

Quinion points to an article entitled "Fragment of a Literary Romance", in an issue of Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine from 1817, for another instance of fidimplicitary, this time modifying coxcombs, they "who fill our too credulous ears with their quisquiliary deblaterations”, and Google Print comes through again with the relevant passage:

([says the author] I have attempted here an imitation of the extraordinary style of Sir Thomas Urquhart, a man of genius, as none who have perused his inimitable translation of part of Rabelais will be disposed to deny, or his extraordinary account of the murder of the admirable Crichton, in his tracts (under the one named the Jewel), but in other respects of the most ridiculous pretensions, and these conveyed in the most quaint and unintelligible phraseology, as every one who has turned over his Introduction to a Universal Language will most readily allow. Most of the singular words in this speech of Sir Thomas are either sanctioned by his own authority, or coined according to those rules he seems to have adopted. both orderly digested and aptly conceived.)
"Truly, sieur," replied Sir Thomas, "your observations on those antiquated times, as they are now called by those shallow and fidimplicitary coxcombs, who fill our too credulous ears with their quisquiliary deblaterations, appear to me both orderly digested and aptly conceived. We have lived, sir, in those great eras, those commendable measurements of the regent of this diurnal microcosme, those exalted periodi, by which the sagacity of the sapient philosophunculi of this rotundal habitation, hath measured the unceasing rotations of the caelicolary spheroids, in those times, seignior, when the old were respected, arid in all estimation —the young sweet and judicious —the married women decorous rather than decorated, grave as well as gravidae —the virgins pure and pitiful —the youth becomingly silent, and more given to listen to the legislative or literatorie discussions of their elders, than to any cunning tricks or vulpicularic conundrums, to the jeers, gibes, mopes, quips, jests, or jerks of their simiatick companions. Gallantry, sir, (said he, turning to me) or the exalted science of demulceating the amiable reservedness, and overcoming the attractive pudicity, of the gentler sex, by the display of rare and excellent endowments [sic!], was a discipline worthy of the accomplished chevaliers of these most memorable eras."

Posted by oook at March 1, 2008 02:32 PM