Pronounced: PLUM-ee, adj

Notes: This word had four definitions; I knew two of them. How many can you think of?

Yesterday’s word

The solidus is the forward slash symbol (‘/’) used to mean “or” (as in his/her) or “and or” (straggler/deserter) or “per” (feet/second).

Background / Comments

The word I use informally for this symbol is “slash”; however, “forward slash” (which I hear frequently in the UK) is more precise, distinguishing it from the “backward slash” (‘\’). I was aware of the word virgule for this character, but not our word. Our word has an interesting history: as one might guess, it comes from Latin solidus (solid). It started out referring to the ancient Roman gold coin that succeeded the aureus. In Medieval Latin, solidus referred to the shilling, which was also abbreviated ‘s’, ‘sh’, or ‘shill’. These abbreviations were replaced with the ‘/’ symbol: something marked 3/6 was 3 pounds, six shilling, and thus the word came to mean the ‘/’ symbol.

First usage

This word showed up in the second half of the 1300s

Published by Richard

Christian, lover-of-knowledge, Texan, and other things.

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