I was looking up Chalcedon (now a district of Istanbul called Kadıköy, but famous as the site of the Fourth Ecumenical Council) in Wikipedia when my eye fell on the following statement: “The Greek name of the ancient town is from its Phoenician name qart-ħadaʃt, meaning ‘New Town’, whence Karkhēd(ōn),[3] as similarly is the name of Carthage. The mineral chalcedony is named after the city.[4]” I wondered what the Phoenician origin was based on, so I checked the footnotes; the first, the entry for chalcedony from the Online Etymology Dictionary, says:

semi-precious stone, a cloudy white variety of quartz, c. 1300, from Latin calcedonius, a Vulgate rendering of Greek khalkedon in Revelations xxi.19; found nowhere else. “The word is of very complicated history” [OED]. Connection with Chalcedon in Asia Minor “is very doubtful” [OED].

This says nothing about Phoenician origins, though it does directly contradict the next statement that “The mineral chalcedony is named after the city” (cited to Erika Zwierlein-Diehl’s Antike Gemmen und ihr Nachleben). Googling around, I can’t find anything scholarly about the etymology of Chalcedon. Anybody know anything? (For a description of today’s Chalcedon/Kadıköy, see Aidan Kehoe’s comment from an interesting five-year-old thread.)


  1. Chalchedon like Chalkidiki ought to derive it’s name from Greek word χαλκός (“copper”).

    χαλκός is one of the Pre-Greek substrate words, so nothing is known about its further etymology (we don’t even know from what language it was borrowed).

  2. Yes, that seems more plausible to me.

  3. John Cowan says

    So, yet another New Tyre along with Carthage (settled from Tyre), Cartagena in Spain (settled from Carthage) and Cartagena in Colombia (partly settled from Cartagena).

    The line”his scabbard of chalcedony” is the only one to survive from Tolkien’s (or Bilbo’s) original light-hearted poem “Errantry” right up to the published version of the “Short Lay of Earendil” in The Lord of the Rings. Due to the confused state of Tolkien’s manuscripts, the published version is not in fact the final version, which was not published until 1989. Most of the changes were minor, but Tolkien added new material after the line “unheralded he homeward sped” as the beginning of the next stanza:

    In might the Feanorians
    that swore the unforgotten oath
    brought war into Arvernien
    with burning and with broken troth;
    and Elwing from her fastness dim
    then cast her in the waters wide,
    but like a mew [gull] was swiftly borne,
    uplifted o’er the roaring tide.

    The meter is as far as I know unique to the versions of this poem: iambic tetrameter with assonance linking each pair of half-lines (Feanorians / swore the un-, Arvernien / burning and, fastness dim / cast her in, swiftly borne / uplifted o’er) and rhyme between each pair of full lines (oath/troth, wide/tide). It makes the poem easy to memorize, and indeed I recited it from memory for a poetry-reading competition once — and lost, perhaps because I didn’t use a prompt-text as everyone else didn and so faltered a few times, or perhaps because the judges didn’t care for “tushery”.

  4. Giacomo Ponzetto says

    The OED says in full:

    The word is of very complicated history. The Latin is commonly assumed to be the same as the adjective chalcēdonius of Chalcedon in Asia Minor, as if it were ‘Chalcedonian stone’, but this is very doubtful. In interpreting the name in the Vulgate, which has the variant form carcedonius, the early writers identified it with a stone mentioned by Pliny xxvii. §§103, 104, where manuscripts have the variants carchedonia, charcedonia, calcedonia, calchedonia, carchedonius, said to be found in North Africa, and to be brought by way of Carthage (Καρχηδών), which, from the description, could have nothing to do with the chalcedony of the moderns. Isidore has carchedonia; Epiphanius de Gemmis iv, says it is produced ἐν Καρχηδόνι τῆς Λιβύης. The carchedonius or chalcedonius is mentioned and moralized upon by a whole catena of writers, including especially Bæda; but to none of them was it more than a traditional name, about which there clustered notions originally derived from Pliny with an accretion of later fables. The first to try to identify it with any known stone was apparently Albertus Magnus (1205–1282), who may have had in view some form of the stone to which the name is now given. (See the exhaustive article of Schade Altdeutsches Wbuch. 1363.)

    Schade’s (1882) exhaustive article is archived at:

  5. By the way, колчедан (pyrite) despite it’s extremely Russian sounding name is also from calcedonius

  6. Chalchedon like Chalkidiki ought to derive it’s name from Greek word χαλκός (“copper”)

    Could be a folk etymology, though, especially as Wiki says “The name Chalcedon is a variant of Calchedon, found on all the coins of the town as well as in manuscripts of Herodotus’s Histories, Xenophon’s Hellenica, Arrian’s Anabasis, and other works”. Were there copper mines nearby?

  7. The carchedonius or chalcedonius is mentioned and moralized upon by a whole catena of writers, including especially Bæda; but to none of them was it more than a traditional name, about which there clustered notions originally derived from Pliny with an accretion of later fables.

    That reminds me of archaic Russian лал (lal), an old name (derived from Perso-Turkish) of a variety of red precious stones. (I ran across it in a mesmerizingly mellifluous Sologub poem: “Белей лилей, алее лала/ Бела была ты и ала” [Beléi liléi, alée lala/ Belá bylá ty i alá] ‘Whiter than lilies, redder than lal/ White you were and red.’)

  8. “The meter is as far as I know unique to the versions of this poem: iambic tetrameter with assonance linking each pair of half-lines (Feanorians / swore the un-, Arvernien / burning and, fastness dim / cast her in, swiftly borne / uplifted o’er) and rhyme between each pair of full lines (oath/troth, wide/tide).”

    Given Tolkien’s knowledge of Welsh, this is probably drawing on the rules of Cynghanedd…

  9. John Cowan says

    I like “catena of writers”, meaning not any old glotch but the analogue of a dharma line.

  10. OED s.v. catena:

    A chain, a connected series:

    a. (More fully catena patrum): A string or series of extracts from the writings of the fathers, forming a commentary on some portion of Scripture; also, a chronological series of extracts to prove the existence of a continuous tradition on some point of doctrine. Also transferred.
    1644 J. Milton Areopagitica 27 For a parochiall finish his circuit in..a Harmony and a Catena.
    1684 T. Burnet Theory of Earth ii. 261 The ancient glosses and catenæ upon scripture.
    1858 R. A. Vaughan Ess. & Remains I. 29 The authorship of many, though assigned in the catenæ to Origen, to question.
    1862 F. D. Maurice Mod. Philos. 192 A catena of opinions in favour of an ecclesiastical system.
    1882 P. Schaff et al. Relig. Encycl. I. 419 The true catena consists merely of extracts from a..number of exegetes.

    b. generally. ‘Chain, string’.
    1862 Sat. Rev. 15 Mar. 303 The Mausoleum is mentioned as existing by a catena of writers reaching down to the 12th century of the Christian era.
    1868 Pall Mall Gaz. 23 July 4 Carried down in an unbroken catena of conscious observance.
    1883 Spectator 6 Oct. 1274 His speech is but a catena of Tory platitudes writ large.
    1884 F. Harrison in 19th Cent. Mar. 494 One long catena of difficulty.

    The first sense is the Christian equivalent of isnad.

  11. Aha!

    I knew this word, of course, but from different branch of science.

    A crater chain is a line of craters along the surface of an astronomical body. The descriptor term for crater chains is catena, plural catenae (Latin for “chain”), as specified by the International Astronomical Union’s rules on planetary nomenclature

  12. Giacomo Ponzetto says

    The Phoenician etymology is not entirely fanciful. The Princeton Encyclopaedia of Classical Sites says:

    Chalkedon or Kalchedon (Kadiköy) Turkey. City in Bithynia, across the Bosporus from Istanbul. The site appears to have been originally occupied by Phoenicians and Thracians; the Greek city was founded by Megarian colonists led by Archias in 685 B.C., 17 years before Byzantium. Since they overlooked the far superior site a mile or so across the water, Chalkedon became known as the city of the blind.

    For whatever it’s worth, it’s easily confirmed that Wikipedia is right in reporting that the city’s coins invariably bear the imprint KAΛX or KAΛXAΔONIΩN with the same ordering of κ and χ as in Καρχηδών rather than the one in χαλκός.

    Some Carthaginian connections are well documented later on. Hannibal died in Bithynia and was famously entombed at Lybissa, on the road between Chalcedon and Nicomedia. Probably close to Gebze where Atatürk built a monument to Hannibal.

  13. The OED also has a note about the definition of chalcedony, separate from the etymological note:

    It is not safe to carry the modern application back before the 16th or at earliest the 15th cent.; and references to earlier notions come down to the 17th. In modern lapidary work, chalcedony receives different names according to its varieties of colour and structure, as agate, cornelian, cat’s eye, chrysoprase, onyx, sard, etc. Most of the varieties were included by Pliny under his jaspis.

    The best descriptive glossary of precious and semiprecious stones that I refer to is from Dragon magazine no. 83 (also noted for its featuring the most striking of fantasy artist Denis Beauvais’s chess-themed paintings on the cover). The article, by Michael Lowrey, has this to say about chalcedony:

    This is the translucent-to-opaque, blue-white to pale blue or blue-gray form of massive quartz. It occurs in evenly colored and in banded forms. If evenly colored and translucent, it may be made into cabochons or beads; all sorts are carved into bowls, beads, boxes, figurines, etc.

    Chalcedony is said to increase strength, and Gygax tells us that it wards off undead. The fur seal is said to swallow chalcedony pebbles “with choice thereof, and relish.”

  14. Others may know catena from catenaccio – the defensive system that ensnared Italian soccer for decades.

  15. David Marjanović says

    Atatürk built a monument to Hannibal

    I had no idea!

    ensnared Italian soccer for decades

    Do they still say odio eterno al calcio moderno?

    swallow chalcedony pebbles

    Ah, gastroliths, that never-ending source of headaches.

  16. ə de vivre says

    Probably close to Gebze where Atatürk built a monument to Hannibal.

    The lengths the Republic went through to find non-Greek history to celebrate…

    The Turkish government culture website opens with the line, “Hannibal Barca MÖ 247 ile MÖ 183 yılları arasında yaşamış Sami ırkından gelen Kartacalı politikacı ve generaldir”, which at first glance I thought asserted that Hannibal was Sami of the Lappish variety. But it seems “sami” is Turkish for semitic. Now I want to start a career as a quack history peddler based on the claim that the Carthaginians were in fact Sami immigrants!

  17. Giacomo Ponzetto says

    It turns out the story of the Turkish monument is more complicated than I had realized. Apparently Atatürk decided he wanted one in 1934, but they only got around to building it on the 100th anniversary of his birth in 1981. Or so it says here:

  18. The lengths the Republic went through to find non-Greek history to celebrate…

    Piece of cake!

    Ancient ruins in Turkey were left by ancient peoples called Helenler and Rumlar.

    Who said anything about Greeks?

  19. David Eddyshaw says

    The Greeks have shown a parallel determination to believe that nothing much really happened between 1453 and 1821. (The real hardcore maintain that nothing much really happened between 146 BC and 1821.)

  20. Trond Engen says

    ə de vivre: Now I want to start a career as a quack history peddler based on the claim that the Carthaginians were in fact Sami immigrants!

    Quack? Sidon < Sami siida “settlement, district, reindeer consortium”

  21. David Eddyshaw says

    The ethnonym Sami is of course in turn cognate with the Kusaal saam “strangers”, reflecting the name applied to them by Proto-Scandi-Congo speaking peoples.

  22. ə de vivre says

    Well, Hanno the Navigator (from haŋŋá, long-tailed duck) did make it quite a ways down the west coast of Africa…

    Ancient ruins in Turkey were left by ancient peoples called Helenler and Rumlar.
    And as we all know, ‘Rumlar’ is just another word for the Selçuks.

  23. AJP Crown says

    Atatürk built a monument to Hannibal
    I had no idea!

    The elephant in the room.

    catena, plural catenae (Latin for “chain”)
    Didn’t we just talk about catenary curves recently? The Wikipedia writer says Thos Jefferson invented the word:

    The English word “catenary” is usually attributed to Thomas Jefferson,[8][9] who wrote in a letter to Thomas Paine on the construction of an arch for a bridge:

    I have lately received from Italy a treatise on the equilibrium of arches, by the Abbé Mascheroni. It appears to be a very scientifical work. I have not yet had time to engage in it; but I find that the conclusions of his demonstrations are, that every part of the catenary is in perfect equilibrium.[10]

    “usually attributed to” – weasel words. I don’t buy it. How was Paine supposed to understand, if Jefferson was making the words up as he went along? It sounds much more like a catenary arch was well-known and Wiki guy’s mate the attributing bloke couldn’t be bothered to look any further. But I don’t have the OED to hand.

  24. John Cowan says

    Do they still say odio eterno al calcio moderno?

    How about parlo italiano o turco ottomano?

  25. David Marjanović says

    How was Paine supposed to understand, if Jefferson was making the words up as he went along?

    Paine was supposed to understand Latin. Problem solved.

  26. Johann Bernoulli (followed shortly thereafter by Huygens and Leibnitz) famously solved the catenary problem (finding that the functional form of a hanging chain was a hyperbolic cosine) in 1690–1691. They all wrote in Latin, calling the curve itself a catena. So even if Jefferson was the first to use “catenary,” the meaning may have been obvious to a well-read man like Paine.

    The result that Jefferson picked out, about the catenary being the ideal equilibrium shape for a bridge, was actually quite old by 1788. Hooke first published it as a cryptogram over a hundred years earlier, and although he apparently never published the official solution in his lifetime, the result was well circulated. Hooke, of course, did not know the exact form of the catenary function at that time, but the function could be measured empirically and so used in engineering. Newton (who despised Hooke) would doubtless has brushed off Hooke’s observation as a trivial exercise in Newtonian statics—which it is, provided one is used to setting up such problems.

    The Wikipedia page for the catenary arch unfortunately states that the curve also gives the correct optimal shape for a dome—which it does not. (The ideal dome shape is certainly similar to a catenary, but the different dimensionality does matter. Finding it is also a much less trivial physics problem.) The article even says that Brunelleschi’s marvellous dome over Santa Maria del Fiore has a catenary outline, which is obviously (to me, at least) not the case, just based on a visual inspection. Brunelleschi had to use algebra and finite difference methods to design his wonderous brick dome. The same methods, naturally enough, were also used to find an excellent approximations to catenary bridge shapes, a couple of hundred years before Hooke made the connection to the shape of a hanging string.

    I will probably fix the Wikipedia page tomorrow, but I’m too tired to deal with it tonight. (Fixing Wikipedia feels like work, whereas commenting here is recreation.)

  27. Paine was supposed to understand Latin. Problem solved.
    No, not solved:

    Paine’s father retained his Quaker principles and, though Thomas was confirmed, his father forbade him to learn Latin when he attended the local [Thetford] grammar school at the age of seven. He received a basic education, in which he showed some signs of mathematical ability and a bent for poetry; a short poem to a crow, supposedly written when Paine was eight, shows a certain prescience: ‘Here lies the body of John Crow / Who once was high but now is low / Ye brother crows take warning all / For as you rise, so must you fall’. When he was twelve his father removed him from school and took him on as an apprentice.

    – Oxford DNB (Mark Philp) 2004

    He might have learned Latin as an adult but there’s no evidence of it that I can find (I didn’t look very far).

  28. David Marjanović says

    Newton (who despised Hooke)

    Standing on the shoulders of giants, as opposed to “the notoriously short Robert Hooke”.

    No, not solved:

    Oh. I supposed Jefferson knew that but momentarily forgot…?

  29. When he was elected to the National Convention shortly after arriving (from England!) in revolutionary France, Paine’s French was still so poor that he had to address the legislature in English, with real-time translation. In the debate about whether to execute the former king, he had a vituperative exchange with Marat, first about his Quaker background, and then about whether the French translator was rendering Paine’s speech accurately.

  30. David Eddyshaw says

    “Catenary” is a special word for me, as I can actually remember my father (an engineer) explaining it to me, when I was about ten. (Most words, I have the illusion of always having known.)

  31. There’s a normal English word (I think? Normal to me, at least) “concatenation”.

    I learned the Greek for copper from Plato’s Atlantean “orichalcum” …

    which a younger me first encountered as a mystical energy source in the video game “Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis”.

  32. Just for the fun of speculation…

    As noted above, the coins of ancient Chalcedon and the best manuscripts (see for example this image of a coin of the city and the evidence laid out in Latin here) indicate that the local form, and probably the oldest form, of the name of the city on the Bosporus was Καλχηδών Kalkhēdōn.

    Since Kalkhedon was a colony of the port of Megara in Attica, perhaps an origin can be sought in the Megarian sphere, as an inner-Greek derivative belonging to the family of κάλχη “purple dye murex; purple” and καλχαίνω “make purple, make dark and troublous like a stormy sea, ponder deeply”. LSJ identifies κάλχη, the flower species, as Chrysanthemum coronarium (now Glebionis coronaria), but this species does not bear purple flowers. Hmm. I haven’t been able to ascertain whether the range of the purple dye murex Bolinus brandaris extends into the Sea of Marmara today, but it has been collected in the northeast Aegean. In any case, κάλχη seems to be a loanword of unknown origin.

    An apparent suffix –ηδών is frequent in the names of insects, illnesses, more or less abnormal states, states of suffering: τερηδών “wood-worm, grub” (beside τείρω “weaken, distress”), ἀνθηδών “bee; a species of hawthorn” (beside ἄνθος “flower”), ὑγρηδών “serous condition” (beside ὑγρός “moist, wet”), ἀλγηδών “pain, suffering” (beside ἀλγέω, “suffer”), Κηληδόνες “Charmers (that is, Sirens)” (beside κηλέω “bewitch, charm”)… It’s hard to believe, though, that Καλχηδών could be “brooding purple sea” — although the Bosporus is a place of shifting and moody currents, and I have often pondered the dark brooding northern slopes of the hills of Asian coast from the European side — and that it is derived from καλχαίνω “make purple, make dark and troubled, be unquiet, ponder” (cf. πορφύρω “surge, boil, be troubled” associated by folk-etymology with πορφύρα “purple”). Also note the use of –ηδών in physiological terminology: κοτυληδών “hollow, cavity, octopus sucker, etc.” (beside κοτύλη “cup, small vessel”), κτηδών, “fiber (of body tissue), layers (of slate), gill (of a mushroom)”, etc.

    In this regard, however, we can recall that Kalkhedon was a colony of Megara, and that there is a very strange association between Megara and the color purple, at least in later sources. As Hyginus relates it:

    Nisus Martis filius, siue ut alii dicunt Deionis filius, rex Megarensium, in capite crinem purpureum habuisse dicitur; cui responsum fuit tam diu eum regnaturum quam diu eum crinem custodisset. Quem Minos Iouis filius oppugnatum cum uenisset, a Scylla Nisi filia Veneris impulsu est amatus, quem ut uictorem faceret patri dormienti fatalem crinem praecidit. itaque Nisus uictus a Minoe est. Cum autem Minos Cretam rediret, eum ex fida data rogauit ut secum aueheret; ille negauit Creten sanctissimam tantum scelus recepturam. Illa se in mare praecipitauit, ne persequeretur. Nisus autem dum filiam persequitur in auem haliaeton, id est aquilam marinam conuersus est, Scylla filia in piscem cirim quem uocant, hodieque si quando ea auis eum piscem natantem conspexit, mittit se in aquam raptumque unguibus dilaniat.

    Nisus, son of Mars, or as others say, of Deion, and king of the Megarians, is said to have had a purple lock of hair on his head. An oracle had told him that he would rule as long as he preserved that lock. When Minos, son of Jove, had come to attack him, Scylla, daughter of Nisus, fell in love with him at the instigation of Venus. To make him the victor, she cut the fatal lock from her sleeping father, and so Nisus was conquered by Minos. He said that holy Crete would not receive such a criminal. She threw herself into the sea to avoid pursuit. Nisus, however, in pursuit of his daughter, was changed into a halliaetos, that is, a sea-eagle. Scylla, his daughter, was changed into a fish which they call the ciris, and today, if ever that bird sees the fish swimming, he dives into the water, seizes it, and rends it with his claws. (translated by Mary Grant)

    Ovid tells the story more elaborately, beginning with these lines (Metamorphoses 8.6-10):

    Interea Minos Lelegeia litora vastat
    praetemptatque sui vires Mavortis in urbe
    Alcathoi, quam Nisus habet, cui splendidus ostro
    inter honoratos medioque in vertice canos
    crinis inhaerebat, magni fiducia regni.

    Meanwhile, Minos devastated the coast of the Leleges
    and tried his martial forces out on the city
    of Alcathous, which was ruled by Nisus,
    at the top of whose hoary head hung a lock of hair,
    bright with purple (ostrum) color—the assurance of his great kingship.

    The outline of this tale is found already in Aeschylus (The Libation Bearers, 612ff), but he doesn’t mention the purple color. One could imagine a *καλχηδών meaning “a purpleness, a purple condition, a purple lock”…

  33. the function could be measured empirically-

    The Catalan architect Antonio Gaudi is said to have determined shapes to accommodate thrust loads on columns, arches, and such by designing models hanging upside down, thus converting thrust force to tension.

  34. Jen in Edinburgh says

    I don’t think I knew the word concatenate until I learned the unix ‘cat’ – so normal might depend on your context!

  35. It’s a bit uncommon, but Jeeves knew it!:

    “A problem has arisen in the life of a friend of mine who shall be nameless, and I want your advice. I must begin by saying that it’s one of those delicate problems where not only my friend must be nameless but all the other members of the personnel. In other words, I can’t mention names. You see what I mean?”

    “I understand you perfectly, sir. You would prefer to term the protagonists A and B.”

    “Or North and South.”

    “A and B is more customary, sir.”

    “Just as you say. Well, A is male, B female. You follow me so far?”

    “You have been lucidity itself, sir.”

    “And owing to … what’s that something of circumstances you hear people talking about? Cats enter into it, if I remember rightly.”

    “Would concatenation be the word for which you are groping?”

    “That’s it. Owing to a concatenation of circumstances B has got it into her head that A’s in love with her. But he isn’t. Still following?”

    “Yes, sir.”

    “I had to pause here for a moment to marshal my thoughts. Having done so, I proceeded.”

    “Now until quite recently B was engaged to –”

    “Shall we call him C, sir?”

    “Caesar’s as good a name as any, I suppose. Well, as I was saying, until quite recently B was engaged to Caesar and A hadn’t a worry in the world. …”

  36. AJP Crown says

    a normal English word I think? “concatenation”
    Yes, indeed. They say a concatenation – or a noteworthy increase in a country’s feline population – is likely to be a side effect of many lockdowns.

    I can actually remember my father (an engineer) explaining it to me, when I was about ten
    Well, you certainly win that. I can actually remember my professor (Mario Salvadori) explaining it to me when I was about twenty five.

    Gaudi is said to have determined shapes by designing models hanging upside down
    I seem to remember he covered hanging metal chains, set up to a fairly large scale, with thin layers of plaster so he could turn them back upright when it dried. If you look at the photos in 1.1.1 on p.19 here you can see the structural intent in some unreinforced stone Gothic enclosures. I’m not aware of any remaining Gaudi-type models used by medieval architects (usually master masons), but I’d be surprised if they hadn’t utilised something similar for experiments.

  37. Trond Engen says

    Thanks for that link, AJP.

  38. May I suggest googling “Gaudí inverted models” & hitting images. I have been enthralled by them for decades.

  39. Giacomo Ponzetto says

    Jefferson provides the first citation for catenary and its earliest dating in the OED, but he doesn’t deserve credit for coining the term, which can be backdated to the very beginning of the century.

    The OED already backdates catenarian to 1751 in Dr Johnson’s Rambler, and Jefferson himself writes of a catenarian arch in the same letter to Paine. The letter also explains he has learned “that every part of the catenary is in perfect equilibrium” from “a treatise on the equilibrium of arches, by the Abbé Mascheroni.” That would be Mascheroni (1785) Nuove ricerche sull’equilibrio delle volte, which implies very clearly that catenaria was already the standard name of the curve in Italian at that date (p. 30):

    Dunque a’ è una costante, nel qual caso si ha dx : dy = s : a, che è l’equazione della catenaria.

    Catenaria was also the standard name of the curve in English. Gregory (1697) published its analytical solution as an exercise in Newtonian geometry in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (vol. 19, n. 231, p. 637-652) in Latin under the heading Catenaria. By 1749 his article was being reprinted in The Philosophical Transactions and Collections to the End of the Year MDCC, Abridged, and Sisposed under General Heads, 5th Edition “in which the Latin papers are now first translated into English.” His article appear on p. 41 as:

    To find the Relation between the Fluxion of the Axis, and the Fluxion of the Ordinate, in the Curve called Catenaria.

    Harris’s (1704) Lexicon Technicum, or at the very least the 1708 second edition of its first volume, has an entry for Catenaria that says in passing:

    This Catenary or Funicular he [Bernoulli] saith he found not truly Geometrical, but of the Mechanical Kind, because its Nature cannot be expressed by a determinate Algebraick Equation; but Leibnitz gives its Construction Geometrically.

    The entry is still catenaria in Chambers’ (1728) Cyclopedia and in the 1766 Complete Dictionary of Arts and Sciences. By 1813, the Pantologia already calls it “CATENARIA, or CATENARY.”

    In 1719 the translator of Nieuwentyt’s The Religious Philosopher had tried a more complete Englishing by calling it “the Catenaria or Chain-Curve,” but apparently this never caught on.

  40. AJP Crown says

    Oh, thanks for that, Giacomo Ponzetto! I thought as much.

    Everybody’s doing the Catenaria,
    Funiculì, funiculà.

    May I suggest googling “Gaudí inverted models” & hitting images.
    Yea. Good idea!

    Thanks for that link
    I’m gratified you like it. I thought it was great. I’m sorry I screwed up the HTML.

  41. Paine’s father retained his Quaker principles and, though Thomas was confirmed, his father forbade him to learn Latin

    I had no idea one of the tenets of Quakerdom was hatred of Latin.

  42. AJP Crown says

    It goes with a love of breakfast cereals.

  43. and Sisposed under General Heads

    I assume Sisposed is an OCR error.

    And Heads = Topics?

  44. I’m sorry I screwed up the HTML.

    I have unscrewed it. (I keep a special screwdriver next to my computer for that purpose.)

  45. Giacomo Ponzetto says

    I assume Sisposed is an OCR error.

    No, just an old-fashioned typo of mine. The letters D and S do not look much alike, probably not even to a machine, but they’re next to each other on my keyboard.

  46. I have unscrewed it.
    Thank you very much.

    I keep a special screwdriver next to my computer for that purpose.
    Huh. I keep my specs inside my hat.

  47. John Cowan says

    Inside the … dare I say it? Why not. Crown.

    I didn’t think of dispose1 I thought it was probably an error for cispose, in some sense the antonym of transpose: if a spoonerism (or kniferism or forkerism) is a transposition, fixing it is a cisposition, and putting the “transactions and collection” under the correct general heads would be cisposing them. Looking into cispose in the OED and Wikt and sispono, suspono, cispono in Wikt got me nothing, however.

    (I forget whether forkerism means ‘words with swapped endings’ and kniferism is ‘words with swapped middles’, or on the other hand whether I have transposed the senses here. Of course there are stranger possibilities, like the Best. Speech Error. Evar: Rosa only date shranks.)

  48. AJP Crown says

    I rarely wear my crown.

  49. Uneasy lies the head… etc.

  50. David Eddyshaw says

    In Kusaal you say

    Kpɛɛm anɛ tɛ’ɛg, o tigidnɛ balaya.
    “An elder is a baobab, he’s fed up of (getting) sticks.”,_Mahajanga.jpg

  51. I had no idea one of the tenets of Quakerdom was hatred of Latin.

    I doubt that it was a general hatred. I would guess that Papa Pain was not pleased with the Anglicans and, perhaps, didn’t want them teaching Thomas church Latin.

  52. I guess I think of Latin as being more of a Catholic thing than an Anglican one; after all, the latter used English translations of the Bible and liturgy.

  53. John Cowan says

    I rarely wear my crown.

    AJP Uncrowned: No doubt. But your hat, whether or not you wear it, probably has a crown nevertheless, suitable for keeping your specs in as well as whatever else you wish to keep under your hat. Though I should think that specifications, unless exceedingly general, would be a bit large to keep in your hat. I’ve been known to keep them in my pockets, but only the hugely oversized pockets in my winter coat.

  54. David Marjanović says

    I think it’s part of the whole Simplicity thing: Latin is highfalutin’ and therefore best avoided.,_Mahajanga.jpg

    Then the French came and turned it into a traffic circle. Of course they did.

  55. David Eddyshaw says

    Vous n’avez pas la priorité, M le Baobab.

  56. Trond Engen says

    For Quakers and other anti-clerical protestants, I think it was a matter of equality. When the Bible was available in the common language, there was no need for Latin to study it. That would only serve to produce a new clergy of people claiming a special understanding of the scripture.

  57. But what about everything else written in Latin? Was it a sin to read Horace and Virgil?

  58. John Cowan says

    Per contra, the early Friend Robert Barclay wrote a Catechism and Confession of Faith in 1673 that was widely printed in both English and Latin editions. Ex ungue leonem. What is more, his 1675 Apology was first printed in Latin, and only then in English, French, High and Low German, Danish, Dutch, and (in part) Arabic. It begins with an epistle to Charles II that is very different in tone from ordinary dedications to princes of that day:

    Thou hast tasted of prosperity and adversity; thou knowest what it is to be banished thy native country, to be over-ruled, as well as to rule, and sit upon the throne; and being oppressed, thou hast reason to know how hateful the oppressor is both to God and man: If after all these warnings and advertisements, thou dost not turn unto the Lord with all thy heart, but forget him, who remembered thee in thy distress, and give up thyself to follow lust and vanity; surely great will be thy condemnation.

  59. to be over-ruled

    That’s a good way to describe what happened to King Charles in 1649, I suppose.

    He was over-ruled and lost his head.

  60. JC,

    Frances Chan : I bought a crownless hat, and a backless dress, and some toeless shoes.

    Charlie Chan : Stores have no clothes which are complete?

    Black Magic 1944.

  61. Stephen C. Calson says

    Did the Online Etymology Dictionary really use the solecistic plural “Revelations”? (One doesn’t have that problem however with the alternative name “Apocalypse” but that feels vaguely Catholic.)

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