Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Meaning: Innermost.

Usefulness: 2 (Could lead to some confusion if used carefully, which Rabelais might have been counting on.)

Logofascination: 1 (Originating in Pantagruel, this is probably a Rabelaisian coinage, although it's from a common enough Latin root, penitus. The OED has Sir Thomas' Ekskybalauron as the sole citation, since it is the main English source. I can't help but wonder if it's in the OED to help explicate Rabelais, much as most of Cotgrave exists for that purpose.

The really fascinating thing about this word, though, is that Ekskybalauron was published before Sir Thomas' Rabelais translation - they are only a year apart, but this suggests that he was already working on the translation, and had thought about how to Anglicise this passage.)

In the wild: Besides the piece on neologism I linked to recently, it's also cited in a rather useful dissection of the original.

Degrees: 1 (Rabelais has penitissimes, Sir Thomas penitissime. We have to give this one to Rabelais.)

Connections: n/a

Which is used in: Firstly in G&P, Pantagruel (Book Two), VI: How Pantagruel met with a Limousin, who too affectedly did counterfeit the French language. We've met the Limousin before, most notably in the "Flay the fox" post. We return to his explanation of the university student's days in terribly Latinised French (English, in our case):
Upon certain diecules we invisat the lupanares, and in a venerian ecstasy inculcate our veretres into the penitissime recesses of the pudends of these amicabilissim meretricules.
A lupunar is a brothel, so you can probably deduce the rest, although I think we will explore this chapter at depth: it's full of words coined by Rabelais and Sir Thomas, with some interesting questions of dialect to boot. If you're dying of curiosity, I refer you to the dissection previously mentioned.

It also turns up more tamely in Ekskybalauron, as Sir Thomas takes at least 800 words to describe the Admirable Chrichton's lady love, but assures us that those seeing her have not taken that long:
All this from their imagination being convoyed into the penitissim corners of their souls in that short space which I have already told,
In other words, back to the action.  

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