Thesaurus Inventus:

What does this Latin phrase mean? No fair peeking (and if you need to peek, the answer is here).

Found treasure, I suppose. As in a treasure that a person stumbles upon.
9.23.2009 5:13pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
I'm going to go with portmanteau. Now off to peek.
9.23.2009 5:16pm
alkali (mail):
Buried treasure?
9.23.2009 5:23pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Gatito and Alkali: You're good!
9.23.2009 5:34pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
I fear they will now revoke my minor in classical civilization... :(

Well, there's a reason I switched from Latin/Greek major to Poli. Sci. major.
9.23.2009 5:47pm
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
Gatito is entirely correct. (I'm a Latin teacher, which may be an unfair advantage.) Just to be pedantic, inventus is the perfect passive participle of invenire, 'to come upon, find, discover', compounded from in ('in, on') and venire ('to come'). English 'invention' etymologically means the discovery of something that already existed (at least potentially) rather than the creation of something new, even if we usually use it in the latter sense.

One of the managers of a bookstore near the White House once told me that she would like to offer stuffed dinosaur toys with dictionary words printed on them: the species would of course be 'thesaurus'.
9.23.2009 5:50pm
RJO (www):
The law of treasure trove is of great interest in one specialized field: ancient coin collecting. I'm no legal expert, but ... Many countries in Europe prohibit individuals from privately owning and trading in ancient coins, deeming them objects of national patrimony in some sense. Since ancient coins, just like modern ones, were minted in the tens or hundreds of thousands every year over many centuries, and since their original purpose, just like money today, was specifically to circulate and be exchanged, they still exist in the tends of thousands, and people with metal detectors regularly turn them up in quantity in farmers' fields, backyards, and all across the landscape of the Old World.

Since they are common and individually of little value (you can buy thousands of ancient coins for less than $50 each; check eBay), attempts to control trade in them predictably leads to a vast under-the-table market. Many collectors cite the British laws of treasure trove as exemplary, and worthy of emulation by other countries. In Britain it is legal to hunt for coins with metal detectors, and the only requirement is that the finder (who retains ownership) must declare each find and give first refusal to a local museum, which can purchase them at fair market value. Anything not purchased can be sold on the open market if the finder so desires. This preserves the historical information (where the coins were found, and in what associations), and at the same time encourages preservation and study. By contrast, where detecting and trade are banned or excessively regulated, people still hunt for coins, lie about where they were found, and smuggle them out of the country for sale, destroying the historical context and giving the finder less monetary reward than he might have gotten from above-board sales.

In sum, intelligent laws of treasure trove benefit historical research and satisfy public desire at the same time.

One of the collector organizations that addresses these issues is the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild:
9.23.2009 6:00pm
Mark N. (www):
"A thesaurus filled with invented synonyms" isn't going to win me any points, I suppose.
9.23.2009 6:03pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Mark N.: That would be a douthrecton, actually.
9.23.2009 6:22pm
marion (mail):
As an ignoramus, my first thought was something about inventing new words like the thoroughly enjoyable and filthy Profanisaurus from Viz, The UK's premiere toilet humour magazine.
9.23.2009 6:41pm
ChrisTS (mail):
Dr, Weevil:
stuffed dinosaur toys with dictionary words printed on them: the species would of course be 'thesaurus'.

Now, that is cool.
9.23.2009 7:34pm
ChrisTS (mail):
By the way, is the use of 'thesaurus' in Roget's Thesaurus [and others] an extension by way of Cicero from 'treasure' to 'trove'?
9.23.2009 8:34pm
SFH (mail):
Also note:

Thesaurus absconditus = Buried treasure

Thesmothete = lawmaker or lawgiver

Be sure to work these into conversation at your next cocktail party.
9.23.2009 11:59pm
devil's advocate (mail):
Being a literalist I would have gone with a "douthrecton" although I couldn't have named it before reading the comments.

As clever as this all might be, I am perplexed by the provenance of "douthrecton", meaning I hope you're too clever by half, or otherwise that means I'm simply half as clever.

Google asks if I meant "south runcton".

At least "small beer" is actually in the dictionary.

Meanwhile, if the thesaursus doll had legal definitions printed on it, I believe it would instead be an "onomasticon".

9.24.2009 2:21pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Devil's Advocate: That's a little joke -- an invented synonym for Mark N.'s "A thesaurus filled with invented synonyms." A very little joke.
9.24.2009 2:47pm
devil's advocate (mail):
at my expense no doubt . . . who said they don't make anything off this blog.

are we to read doth reckon or . . . ?
9.25.2009 6:46am

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