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#141107 - 03/20/05 05:37 PM Two words I can't remember
orchard Offline
stranger

Registered: 03/20/05
Posts: 5
Hello. A couple of tip-of-the-tongue questions for all you wordy boffins (no offence):
*I'm sure I remember seeing a word for when Roman emperors gave a thumbs-up or thumbs-down to gladiators. It may be derived from 'pollex'.
*There's a word for the irritation in your throat that precedes a cough that I can't recall. Might begin with 'p'.

Many thanks if you can answer these.

Ben

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#141108 - 03/20/05 05:51 PM Re: Two words I can't remember
TEd Remington Offline
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Registered: 07/17/00
Posts: 3467
Loc: Marion NC
The second one is pertussis.

Edit:

Well, I was wrong. Opened mouth without looking. But I THINK it is something like that. Pertussis is whooping cough.
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#141109 - 03/20/05 05:55 PM Re: Two words I can't remember
Father Steve Offline
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Registered: 09/06/00
Posts: 2788
Loc: Seattle, Washington, USA
The Roman hand gesture voting for a gladiator's death was the pollice verso -- thumbs down.



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#141110 - 03/20/05 06:05 PM Re: Two words I can't remember
maverick Offline
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Registered: 09/15/00
Posts: 4757
Welcome, Orchard.

To add a tiny bit to Father Steve's info, I was taught when studying the Colosseum that the base phrase was pollicem vertere meaning “to turn the thumb”. It is not certain that the popular conception that 'thumbs up = spare him' is correct. Neither, come to that, is there a lot of solid ground for the other thing we all 'know' about the games ~ that they all faced the Emperor's box saying "We who are about to die salute you". I learned that there seemed to only be one documented example of this (Suetonius?) and that was from an execution event (one of the naumachia staged by the nice Claudius!) rather than a gladiatorial contest.

Sorry, can't help with the tickly throat thing.


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#141111 - 03/20/05 08:13 PM Re: tickly throat thing
AnnaStrophic Offline
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Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 6511
Loc: lower upstate New York
post-nasal drip?


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#141112 - 03/20/05 08:16 PM Thumbs up/thumbs down
Father Steve Offline
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Registered: 09/06/00
Posts: 2788
Loc: Seattle, Washington, USA
Many years ago, when I was a supervisor in a large prosecuting attorney's office, I had to approve or disapprove a hundred requests a day. I bought a small, square rubber stamp on which a fist with a thumb sticking out was printed. I would use it with a red ink pad and rotate it so that the thumb faced up for approval or the thumb faced down for disapproval. I'd put my initials over the fist part and send the document on its way. Funny how you remember things like that. Funnier still that, in the super-serious world of a prosecutor's office, I got away with doing it at all.


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#141113 - 03/20/05 09:40 PM Re: Two words I can't remember
Jackie Offline

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Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 11610
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
Bingley sent me this:
When a man went down, cries of Habet, Hoc habet! (He's had it!), and shouts of Mitte! (Let him go!) or Iugula! (Kill him!) could be heard. If able, the wounded gladiator would lay down his shield and raise his left hand to plea for mercy, which the crowd signified either by extending their thumbs up or down (pollice verso); turning the thumb upwards and jabbing it toward the heart (pollicem vertere) also was a sign of disapproval, and approval indicated by pressing the thumb and forefinger together (pollicem premere).
From Gladiators
http://ancienthistory.about.com/library/weekly/aa041500b.htm


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#141114 - 03/21/05 01:36 AM Re: thumbs down
tsuwm Offline
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Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10525
Loc: this too shall pass
perhaps you've come across this "hard word", as used by Pynchon:

desuperpollicate - to give a 'thumbs down'
"Mr. Warford peers over at this wife, who for the second time tonight desuperpollicates...." - Thomas Pynchon, Mason & Dixon



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#141115 - 03/21/05 07:43 AM Re: thumbs down
of troy Offline
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Registered: 10/17/00
Posts: 5400
Loc: rego park
i have some vague recollection that pollox (or a word something like it) is a name for one of the bones in the the thumb. (and there is a similar word for for one of the bones in the big toe. . . ) does this ring any bells with anyone?

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#141116 - 03/21/05 02:44 PM Re: Two words I can't remember
orchard Offline
stranger

Registered: 03/20/05
Posts: 5
Thx for the 'pollice verso' one. I found it in Chambers last night. Wish there was a verb though (not desuperpollicate). I'm sure I found that other one on Forthright's Phrontistery so I'll search around there.

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