Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: viz.

viz. “Viz.” is an abbreviation of the Latin word “videlicet” (fr. “videbere” “to see” + “licet” “it is permissible”). The English-language equivalents are “namely” and “that is,” either of which is preferable. Like its English counterparts, the Latin term signifies that what follows particularizes and explains a general statement. E.g.: o “For too long Virginia’s elitist Democrats (viz., Don Beyer, L.F. Payne, Mark Warner, Chuck Robb et al. are — to a man — millionaires) have taken Virginia’s African-Americans, including Wilder, for granted.” “Election Clean-Up,” Richmond Times-Dispatch, 8 Nov. 1997, at A8. o “This tasted equally of its constituent parts: viz., cabbage and chorizo sausage.” A.A. Gill, “Country Roade,” Sunday Times (London), 23 Nov. 1997, Style §, at 26. o “John saw not only dimensions and building materials, he saw also the quality of life (a new Jerusalem), viz., God would move into the city, there among the people.” Abram Sangrey, “This Is God’s House and Our Sacred Place,” Lancaster New Era, 1 Dec. 1997, at A5. The abbreviation raises three questions. First, how does one derive “viz.” from “videlicet”? The final “-z” in the abbreviation represents the medieval Latin symbol of contraction for “et” or “-et” (Oxford English Dictionary). Second, how does one pronounce “viz.”? Preferably by saying “namely.” But if you want to say the Latin term, it’s /vi-DEL-uh-sit/. Third, how do you punctuate it? As with “e.g.” and “i.e.,” the abbreviation is customarily set off from the rest of the sentence by a pair of commas (or, when it begins a sentence or a parenthetical expression, by one comma). For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ————————————— Quotation of the Day: “Far more than half of what is now written is heavy with fog. Most writing you meet in business, in newspapers, and in schools is harder reading than it should be — or need be.” Robert Gunning, The Technique of Clear Writing 3 (1952).
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