Thursday 20 May 2010

Extravagant and Omnivagant Vagabonds

I posted before on the the word noctivagant, which means wandering around at night. A sister word is omnivagant, which means wandering absolutely everywhere. Both words, though lovely, are rather overshadowed by their big, burly brother extravagant which, etymologically, means wandering around outside.

In the first scene of Othello, Brabantio is told that his daughter is making the beast with two backs (first usage) with Othello. This charge is amplified and expounded thuslyly:

Your daughter, if you have not given her leave,
I say again, hath made a gross revolt;
Tying her duty, beauty, wit and fortunes
In an extravagant and wheeling stranger
Of here and everywhere.

Meaning not that Othello is a spendthrift, but that he's Not Local. It's quite easy to see how the word wandered from its original meaning of out-of-bounds to out-of-budget (a budget being, of course, a small budgerigar).

And it all comes back to the Latin word vagari meaning wander, from which we get vagabond, which probably means wandering around too much, or abundantly vague.

Too extravagant a wanderer


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Sorry I needed to edit the previous attempt at a comment!

    OK, I admit it! Often I'm noctivagant
    while my mind becomes omnivagant,
    but I never get extravagant...
    until I'm spending money.

  3. The Antipodean21 May 2010 at 06:53

    I'd like to be omnivagant, but what vagancy I have attempted has left me out-of-budget. Comes of living far away from everywhere.

    I *do* like 'thuslyly.' There's an awful lot of that in Othello. I also like this little exchange just before the above:

    BRABANTIO: Thou art a villain.
    IAGO: You are — a senator.


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