Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Verbum Hodiernum: AB

Today's word is the tiny preposition that stands at the beginning of the Latin alphabet: A or AB. In its archaic form, it was spelled ap, and the spelling ab came later, along with the spellings aps and abs. You can also see the form au- (ab- becomes av- which becomes au-) in some verbal forms, like aufugio. Finally, there is the form with just the vowel, ā, lengthened. For a detailed discussion of the history of these different forms of the preposition, check out the beginning of the Lewis & Short dictionary entry. As for the range of meanings, there is no one simple English equivalent - a quick look through the dictionary entry is the best way to see the wide range of uses for this little preposition in Latin.

Here are some examples of today's word in Latin sayings and proverbs; for more information, see the page at the Scala Sapientiae, which contains notes on some of the proverbs cited below, as well as additional proverbs:

Ab uno amore multa bona.

Cui multum datum est, multum quaeretur ab eo.

Qui petit a te, da ei.

A magnis, maxima.

A Deo rex, a rege lex.

Quidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est.

Alta a longe cognoscuntur.

Disce, sed a doctis.

Qui bonus est, ab eo bona discito.

Quid faciendum sit, a faciente discendum est.

Nihil est ab omni parte beatum.

Homo a suo socio cognoscitur.

Noli vinci a malo, sed vince in bono malum.

Fuge procul a viro maiore.

Procul ab oculis, procul a corde.

Quidquid futurum est summum, ab imo nascitur.

Sapientior omnibus eris, si ab omnibus discere volueris.

Homo sum: humani nil a me alienum puto.

Si nocueris, noceberis ab alio.

A sapiente viro sapientiam discere convenit.

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