Ancient Word of the Day: Deliquium

Ancient Word of the Day: Deliquium

Latin v. delinquere: “to lack, to fail

In 1836, Francis Baily travelled to the Scottish Borders to see a solar eclipse. He witnessed a macabre and beautiful phenomenon.

A row of lucid points, like a string of bright beads of irregular distance and size from each other. These suddenly appeared around the circumference of the moon that was about to enter into the sun’s disc. ~ Francis Baily, 1836.

Baily named this momentary necklace of fire around the moon during the eclipse Baily’s Beads

Baily’s Beads is the phenomenon of sunlight shining through the rough craters and valleys on the surface of the moon during a solar eclipse. Lasting for only a few moments, this causes a circle of glowing beads of fire around the moon.

Baily’s Beads/Eclipse/Deliquium

The older word for Eclipse is Deliquium

Eclipse comes from French with its roots in Greek. It means failure to appear or to leave one’s usual place. Eclipse mirrors an earlier word from Latin commonly used during medieval times was Deliquium, meaning failure of the sun to shine.

Deliquium: Failure

Deliquium was used as an early medical term in the seventeenth century to describe a person fainting following a session of grisly blood-letting or other procedures. Deliquium later fell out of use in English in the 19th Century.




The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities : A Yearbook of Forgotten Words by Paul Anthony Jones

Published by Content Catnip

Content Catnip is a quirky internet wunderkammer written by an Intergalactic Space Māori named Content Catnip. Join me as I meander through the quirky and curious aspects of history, indigenous spirituality, the natural world, animals, art, storytelling, books, philosophy, travel, Māori culture and loads more.

5 thoughts on “Ancient Word of the Day: Deliquium

    1. Hmmm I am not sure, I would guess it’s the L but that’s just a stab in the dark. I did a few units of Latin on Duolingo which gives a feel for the emphasis on the words, but not sure. Duolingo is very good, have learned a lot on there and it’s really fun 🙂 Thanks for the comment and hope you are having a good weekend and take care 🙂


      1. Yeah thinking it would be the ‘l’ too…
        Never tried duolingo, don’t think it had chinese went I was looking at my options. Heard lots of good reviews though


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