Saturday, July 4, 2015

Hitting Delete

It appears, suddenly, we have some expunging to do.

The word expunge was first used in English around 1600.

Originally meaning "to delete," it was usually applied to words in a court record.

Expunge stems from expungere, a Latin word meaning to prick, as with a pin.

When an Ancient Roman soldier retired from service, a row of pin pricks was made below his name in the army records.

Today, we use expunge to mean “to remove completely; to obliterate; to destroy.” 

The Ancient Romans also liked to condemn traitors by pronouncing damnatio memorial, literally "damnation of memory." 

By pronouncing damnatio memorial, the Roman Senate would order that every trace of a traitor be deleted.

His property would be seized; his name erased from all documents; and his statues destroyed or reworked.

The traitor, in effect, never existed.
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