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A.Word.A.Day--lex talionis

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lex talionis (leks tal-ee-O-nis) noun

The law of retaliation that the punishment should correspond to the crime, as an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Also called talion.

[From Latin, lex (law) + talionis (retaliation).]

"We are entreated to turn the other cheek and do unto others as we would have them do unto us, yet simultaneously understand lex talionis and the quotidian mayhem depicted on television, in fact and fiction." Shelley Neiderbach; Seeing Can Free Victims From Thirst for Revenge; Newsday (New York); May 10, 2001.

Although Latin is a "dead" language, it remains alive through its extensive vocabulary used in medicine, science, law, and also via the numerous words that the English and other languages have borrowed and built upon. And it's still the official language of the Vatican city state.

We use Latin expressions for many purposes, sometimes to sound more literary and at times for idioms that pack a concept in just a few words that would otherwise take a few sentences. This week we'll review Latin terms often used in the English language.

-Anu Garg garg AT wordsmith.org


None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free. -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, poet, dramatist, novelist, and philosopher (1749-1832)

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