Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Verbum Hodiernum: CURA

Today's word is CURA, a fascinating Latin words which is full of pitfalls for English-speakers because of the different range of meanings it can convey. Sometimes, cura means "care" in the sense of "carefulness, paying attention" to something, as when we say in English "take care" - and to be "careless" in English means not being careful. In other contexts, this sense of cura takes on a negative quality, and means something like "worry" or "anxiety," a bad, disturbing feeling. That is why it feels good to "carefree" in English; it means not to have a worry in the world. So, whenever you run into cura in Latin, you need to think about whether it has the neutral or positive sense of "care" and "attention," or whether it has the more negative sense of "worry" and "anxiety."

We get lots of words from this Latin root in English. Most obvious is the word "cure," along with compounds like "manicure" or "pedicure." A "sinecure" (Latin sine cura) is where you have a job that actually has no responsibilities, nothing you have to take care of or worry about. When you are "secure" (from Latin securus), that means you are safe, without worries. The English "curious" at first meant something like Latin curiosus, and referred to someone who was very careful, attentive, even meddling. Over time, English "curious" came to refer also to the thing that provokes curiosity - so I can be curious about something, and the thing about which I am curious is curious, too!

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:

Cura omnia potest.

Plus potest plurium cura.

Cura, quidquid agis, te bene nosse magis!

Parva domus, parva cura.

Curae cedit fatum.

Cura curam trahit.

Virtus dedit, cura servabit.

Curis gaudia misce.

Mihi cura futuri.

Divitiae pariunt curas.

Artem natura superat, sine vi, sine cura.

Discere ne cessa: cura sapientia crescit.

Amat victoria curam.

Cura dat victoriam.

Parva iuventutis plerumque est cura salutis.

Cura quietem.

Curis iactatur, si quis Veneri sociatur.

Musica pellit curas.

Interpone tuis interdum gaudia curis.

Pervigili cura semper meditare futura.

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