Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Verbum Hodiernum: LITTERA

Today's word is LITTERA (which you will sometimes find spelled lītera). In the singular, the word refers to a letter of the alphabet, In the plural, litterae, it refers to an epistle. Sometimes in poetic usage the singular littera could also mean an epistle, just as we say a "letter" in English, referring to something we would write and send to someone by mail. You can find the diminutive litterula, meaning "a little letter."

The expression scire litteras, "to know the letters," meant to be able to write. As such, the word litterae also came to refer to learning or scholarship in general.

Here are some sayings and proverbs that use today's word:

Litteras disce!

Vita sine litteris mors est.

Litterae sine moribus vanae.

Litterae non dant panem.

Litterae non erubescunt.

Litterae scriptae manent.

Litteris absentes videmus.

Non quivis ad litteras natus est.

Duplum cernunt, qui litteras didicerunt.

Cave ne litteras Bellerophontis afferas.

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