Word of the Week (105): EXCUDIT (probability 18492), by David Sutton

EXCUDIT is a Latin past tense meaning 'he or she struck, hammered or forged this', and it is one of the little words, now perhaps more cryptic than they used to be with the decline of classical education, that one may find inscribed on works of art or craft, appended to the artist's signature.

Its companion words are DELINEAVIT (he or she drew this), FECIT (he or she made this), INVENIT (he or she devised this), PINXIT (he or she painted this) and SCULPSIT (he or she sculpted this).

Of course, there are quite a few other Latin past tenses in –IT to be found on our word list, usually in a legal context. OBIIT (died) and FLORUIT (flourished, was alive) are common in formal documents. ASSUMPSIT, the Latin for 'undertook', denotes an action in common law on which the plaintiff asserts that the defendant undertook to perform a certain act and failed to fulfil his or her promise. A PLACIT (pleased) is the decision of a court or assembly. An ELEGIT (he has chosen) is a writ of execution, abolished in England in 1956, whereby a debtor's property and lands could be delivered to the plaintiff until the debt was satisfied. A COGNOVIT (he has recognised) is an acknowledgement by a defendant that the plaintiff's cause is just.

And let me conclude with a PROSIT, a toast to your good health, though I am sure I don't need to explain that in this case the word is not a past tense but is the third person singular subjunctive of prodesse, to be of use, just as ABSIT, a student's leave to pass one night away from college, is the third person singular subjunctive of abesse, meaning literally 'let him be away'.

A PLAUDIT from you would now be nice (though this form is neither past nor subjunctive, but is shortened from PLAUDITE, the imperative form of plaudere, to applaud).


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