Chapter 2.9 An Influential Latin Dictionary and Its Etymologies (12th Century CE) in the Linguistic Landscape of Medieval Europe

Hugutio of Pisa’s Derivationes

In: Plurilingualism in Traditional Eurasian Scholarship
Michele Loporcaro
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The bestselling dictionary of the late Middle Ages was named after a morphological procedure, “derivations.” It was written by Hugutio (also known as Uguccione) from Pisa, bishop of Ferrara, probably in the 1160s, and its title refers to one of the procedures used in order to explain the origin and meaning of words. In addition, etymological speculation, with the method inherited from Latin Antiquity—from Varro via Isidore of Seville—also has a prominent place in this work, which enjoyed great success. In an epoch when the Romance languages, including Italian, had long ousted Latin in everyday native spoken usage, Hugutio’s book was extensively used and cited as a dictionary, in order to write not only in Latin—still the main language of culture in Western Europe for centuries to come—but also in the vernaculars in the then-incipient Romance vulgar literature; for example, by no less a figure than Dante Alighieri. To us, Hugutio’s Derivations (Derivationes) is valuable as a source both of knowledge of Medieval culture and thought and of information on the Italian lexicon, at a time when written documentation in Italian was still very scarce.

In order to exemplify the practice of etymology in the multilingual landscape of Western Europe in the Middle Ages, this chapter presents some excerpts from Hugutio of Pisa’s Derivationes, which the author—a canonist (i.e., an expert in medieval church law), born in Pisa around 1130 and appointed in 1190 bishop of Ferrara where he died in 1210—wrote, probably starting early in the 1160s.1,2 The work was a great lexicographical success, as witnessed by the over two hundred extant manuscripts, and had a great impact, as no lesser a writer than Dante Alighieri used it as a reference dictionary.3 The work stands in a tradition that starts with the Liber glossarum (once known as Glossarium Ansileubi), possibly written in Carolingian France between 790 and 830, a proto-dictionary which grafts Isidore of Seville’s etymologies onto the tradition of glossaries of late antiquity.4 Composed at a time when Latin still was a naturally acquired spoken language in common use at all levels of society, these earlier works were pure lists of more or less obscure words. Later, Latin gradually stopped being acquired natively—with a major break around 700 CE in France, as argued convincingly by J. Herman5—so that the teaching of Latin, still the only written language in Western Europe for centuries to come, became confronted with new demands. The new formula of the Liber glossarum, a broader kind of glossary adding substantial definitions to the word entries, was meant to meet such demands. Around 1040–1050, an otherwise unknown lexicographer named Papias elaborated on the same matter, producing a larger work entitled Elementarium doctrinae rudimentum, which, about one century later, Osbern Pinnock of Gloucester (1123–1200) in turn further expanded into his Liber derivationum (around 1150). This is the closest and major source of the work of Hugutio, who also draws on the other early dictionaries mentioned, and of course on works on etymology in the tradition from Isidore to Peter Helias (ca. 1100–post 1166).

The success of the work faded out with the end of the Middle Ages, as is witnessed by the fact that it was never printed, contrary to both its predecessor, Papias’s Erudimentum, of which four incunable editions were published in northern Italy between 1476 and 1496, and to its later competitor, which ousted it, viz. Giovanni Balbi’s Catholicon (1286), printed at the very dawn of the Gutenberg era, possibly by Johannes Gutenberg himself, in Mainz in 1460.6 The latter’s success was favored by its strictly alphabetical order, which improved on Papias, who was the first to use this criterion (though he considered only the first three letters of each word). Alphabetical ordering, though it had previously been adopted at times in Greek glosses, had never been applied strictly in Latin antiquity, nor earlier in the Latin Middle Ages.7 Hugutio—taking a step backwards with respect to Papias—orders his matter by the initial letter only, which grants him the liberty to start his dictionary from the word auctor (author). Also, it is fair to say that Hugutio’s work fell victim to the condemnation issued by leading humanists such as Lorenzo Valla (in the preface to Book II of his De Linguae Latinae Elegantia, 1444) against Isidore and his continuers.8

Since the Derivationes are a dictionary, they could have been addressed just as well in Part 3 (Lexicography). Their inclusion in this chapter on etymology is justified by what has been said on the role played by Isidore’s Etymologies in the rise of this textual genre: etymological discussion paved the way for the expansion of word lists into dictionaries, together with the “derivation” method, implying that lexical families were addressed as a whole, discussing words that shared the same root (or that appeared to do so, given the established knowledge of the time).

The dependency of Hugutio’s etymological analysis on earlier sources can be exemplified by his discussion of a paramount instance of prescientific etymology, that of vulpes, earlier volpes, “fox.” Hugutio repeats an acronymic etymology, first attested in Varro, L.L. 5.20 (“Volpes, ut Aelius dicebat, quod volat pedibus” [Volpes “fox,” as Aelius used to say,9 because it volat “flies” with its pedes “feet”]10), via Isidore, Etymologies 12.2.29:11

Vulpes dicta, quasi volupes. Est enim volubilis pedibus, et numquam rectis itineribus, sed tortuosis anfractibus currit, fraudulentum animal insidiisque decipiens.

Foxes [vulpes] are so named as if the word were volupes, for they are “shifty on their feet” [volubilis + pes] and never follow a straight path but hurry along tortuous twistings. It is a deceitful animal, tricking others with its guile.12

Hugutio’s more articulated treatment is located under the entry volvo “to turn” (U 45.7), and focuses on the word’s internal structure to establish the “derivation,” analyzing the word as a compound:

Item componitur cum pes et dicitur hec vulpes -pis, idest quasi volupes, est enim volubilis pedibus.

And it [i.e., volvo] enters composition with pes “foot” and one says vulpes -pis, as though the word were volupes, since it is “shifty on its feet.”

Plurilingualism, in this dictionary and its etymologies, manifests itself along two main dimensions. On the one hand, it appears in the presence of Greek—as exemplified in some of the entries excerpted in the following—surely due not to first-hand knowledge (one example of faulty Greek is provided in fn. 21), but rather to its metabolization in the cultured lexicon of Latin.13 On the other hand, one has to keep in mind that in twelfth-century Italy, Latin had long ceased to be a language spoken in everyday usage but, as in the whole of Europe, it still was—and continued to be for quite some time—the only language for all institutional and formal purposes (writing, teaching, science, etc.). The Derivationes mirror this diglossic situation in several ways, as they were later used as a reference dictionary by authors who started to write in the vernacular, such as Dante, but who could not yet rely on Italian dictionaries, which became available only in the sixteenth century. Also, several entries contain the earliest documentation of vernacular words unknown to Latin, often highlighted through the formula quod vulgo dicitur (which is said commonly/popularly). This is also exemplified in some of the following entries.

Latin Text

Excerpted from Uguccione da Pisa [Hugutio], Derivationes, critical edition, ed. Enzo Cecchini, Guido Arbizzoni, Settimio Lanciotti, Giorgio Nonni, Maria Grazia Sassi, and Alba Tontini (Florence: Sismel Edizioni del Galluzzo, 2004).

Excerpt I: Prologus (2.3–4)

1. Cum nostri protoplasti suggestiva prevaricatione humanum genus a sue dignitatis culmine quam longe deciderit ac triplicis incommodi, scilicet indigentie, vitii et ignorantie, non modicam coartationem sumpserit, triplex huic triplici incommodo nobis a Deo suggeritur remedium, scilicet commoditas, virtus et scientia. 2. Nam indigentie molestiam commoditas, vitii corruptionem virtus, ignorantie cecitatem expellit scientia, ad quam quidam longe accedentes, panniculum ab ea diripiendo sibi totam nupsisse credentes, et si quandoque eam in quadam parte possideant, more tamen bestiarum degentes non modo predictam triplicem miseriam aliqua virtute non redimere ut sic honestarum artium exercitio ad pristine decusationis celticum honorem aliquantillum valeant promoveri, sed etiam singulis diebus cumulare conantur. 3. Nam nec dentium exstantias elimare, nec balbutientium linguarum vituligines abradere, nec ingenii tarditatem excitare, nec madide memorie oblivia corripere vel negligentiam redarguere, nec maledicta punire, nec sordes ac vitia repellere, sed potius in vitiorum volutabro pro voluti pecuniam congerere ac congeste inservire vel etiam honestis officiis omissis lacunam corporis ingurgitare nituntur; quorum doctrinam, vitam mortemque iuxta extimandum est. 4. Nos vero altius procedentes, ne, si talentum a Deo nobis concessum in terram infoderemus, patenter furti argui possemus, quod nature beneficio nobis denegabatur per famam extendere laboravimus, ut universe carnis generalitas illam licet tenuem una cum corpore ne utiquam dissolveret. 5. Opus igi-

English Translation14

By Michele Loporcaro and Laura Loporcaro.

Excerpt I: Prologue

1. After mankind had fallen down, far removed from the height of its dignity by the original sin15 incurred, upon suggestion,16 by our first ancestor,17 and took upon itself the not slight constriction of a triple discomfort, that is of indigence, vice and ignorance, remedy to this triple discomfort is suggested by God, that is adaptability, virtue and knowledge. 2. For adaptability dispels the discomfort of indigence, virtue the corruption of vice, knowledge the blindness of ignorance. But some who approach knowledge from afar and, by tearing a shred of cloth from its garments,18 believe that she gave itself entirely to them, and, if at some time they possess it in some part, yet they spend their time like beasts and not only do not try to redeem the above mentioned three-way misery with any virtue in order to be able to progress this way just a little bit by the exercise of honest arts towards the noble honor of ancient adornment,19 but they even strive day by day to increase that misery. 3. Indeed, they neither strive to smooth tooth outgrowths, nor to scrape off the vitiligo of stuttering tongues, nor to prod the laziness of intelligence, nor to stop the forgetfulness of a slippery memory or to reproach negligence, nor to punish slander, nor to repel meanness and vice, but rather, wallowing in the mud of vice, they strain to accumulate money and to attend to that which they have accumulated, or even, having left aside honest occupations, aim to fill the bodily cavity by gorging themselves. These people’s knowledge, life and death do not really make any difference. 4. But we who tend towards a higher goal, in order for us not to be patently alleged with theft would we bury underground the talent that God bestowed on us, have strived to extend through fame what had been denied to us by the benefit of nature, so that the general destiny of all human flesh might not dissolve it, however faint it may be, together with the body. 5. We

tur divina favente gratia componere statuimus, in quo pre aliis vocabulorum significationum distinctiones, derivationum origines, ethimologiarum assignationes, interpretationum reperientur expositiones. Quarum ignorantia latinitas naturaliter indiga quadam doctorum pigritia non modicum coartatur. 6. Nec hoc tantum ut cenodoxie vitream fragilitatem lucri faciamus, adimplere conabimur, quantum ut omnium scientie litterarum invigilantium communis inde utilitas efflorescat; nec cuivis descendat in mentem, nos in hoc opere perfectionem insinuatim polliceri, cum nichil in humanis inventis ad unguem inveniatur expolitum, licet aliis de hac eadem re tractantibus quadam singulari perfectione haud iniuria videri possimus excellere. 7. Nam hic parvulus suavius lactabitur, hic adultus uberius cibabitur, hic perfectus affluentius delectabitur, hic gignosophiste triviales, hic didascali quadruviales, hic legum professores, hic et theologie perscrutatores, hic ecclesiarum proficient gubernatores, hic supplebitur quicquid hactenus ex scientie defectu pretermissum est, hic eliminabitur quicquid a longo tempore male usurpatum est.

8. Si quis querat huius operis quis autor, dicendum est quia Deus; si querat huius operis quis fuerit instrumentum, respondendum est quia patria pisanus, nomine Uguitio quasi eugetio, idest bona terra non tantum presentibus sed etiam futuris, vel Uguitio quasi vigetio, idest virens terra non sibi solum sed etiam aliis. 9. Igitur Sancti Spiritus assistente gratia, ut qui est omnium bonorum distributor nobis verborum copiam auctim suppeditare dignetur, a verbo augmenti nostre assertionis auspicium sortiamur.

Excerpt II: G 26 (2.511 f.)

1. GARRIO23 -ris verbosari, gaudere, blandiri, iocari. Proprie tamen est multa verba dicere, sordide loqui, 2. et hinc graculus, non, ut quidam dicunt, quia gregatim volent, cum sit manifestum eum ex vocis garrulitate sic nuncupari: est enim loquacissimum avium genus et vocibus importunum; 3. et hinc garrulus -a -u quasi graculus; proprie garrulus dicitur qui vulgo verbosus appellatur,

therefore decided, with the favor of God’s grace, to compose a work in which first of all one will find the distinctions of word meanings, the origins of derivations, the attributions of etymologies, the expositions of interpretations. Due to ignorance of them, the Latin language, naturally poor, is seriously restricted, because of a certain laziness of the learned. 6. And we will not try to accomplish this solely to gain the glassy frailty of vainglory, but rather so that from this, common utility may blossom for all who attend to the humanities. And nobody should think that in this work we surreptitiously promise perfection, since nothing can be found in human inventions which is completely polished, although it may seem, not unjustly, that because of an unusual degree of perfection, we excel others treating the same subject. 7. Here the baby will be nursed more gently, the adult be nourished more abundantly, the educated person be delighted more generously, here the teachers of the trivium [the three core liberal arts],20 here the teachers of the arts of quadrivium, here professors of law, here even the investigators of theology, here those in charge of the churches will profit, here whatever so far has been neglected because of some defect of knowledge will be restored, here whatever has been used improperly for long will be eliminated.

8. If anyone asks who the author of this work is, they should be told it is God; if one asks who the instrument of this work has been, it should be answered that it was a man whose homeland is Pisa, whose name is Uguitio, as if the word were eugetio, that is “good land” not only for those who are now, but also for those who will be, or Uguitio, as if the word were vigetio, that is “verdant soil” not only for himself, but also for others.21 9. Hence, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit’s grace—so that He who is the distributor of all good things may deign to provide us increasingly with abundance of words—we take the beginning of our demonstration from the word augmentum “augment, increase.”22

Excerpt II: G 26 (2.511 f.)

1. GARRIO -ris “to chatter, rejoice, allure, play.” But strictly speaking it means “to say many words” or “speak badly,” 2. and hence graculus “jackdaw,” not—as some people say—because they fly in flocks (gregatim), since it is clear that it is named after the garrulity of its call: indeed, for it is the most talkative species and importunate in its calls; 3. and hence garrulus -a -u “loquacious” as if the word were graculus; garrulous is the proper word for a person who is commonly called verbose. When happiness befalls such people they neither can nor will

accedente letitia nec valens nec volens tacere. Et est sumptum nomen a graculis avibus que importuna loquacitate semper strepunt nec umquam quiescunt. …

13. Item a guttur gurdus -a -um ineptus, stultus, inutilis … ; et hic gulus -li genus navigii pene rotundum ad modum gutturis; 14. et hic gustus -us -ui, unus de V sensibus corporis; unde gusto -as -vi, et hinc gustito -as frequentativum: gustare est libare, quod vulgo dicitur assaiare.

Excerpt III: I 26 (2.598 f.)

1. Hec YCON -nis et hec ycona -e et hec yconia -e, idest imago vel signum, et est ycon personarum inter se vel eorum que personis accidunt comparatio, scilicet cum figuram rei ex consimili genere conamur exprimere, ut (Verg. Aen. 4.558) “omnia Mercurio similis, vocemque coloremque” et cetera; 2. unde hec yconisma -e, idest imago, figura sine pectore ad caput, et hec eco indeclinabile, quasi yco, sonus aeris vel vallium vel rupium vel montium, idest sonus reditivus, quia est imago et representatio vocis. Dicunt tamen quidam quod eco saxum est quod, humane vocis sonum captans, etiam verba loquentium imitatur, et dicitur sic quia, ad vocem respondens, alieni efficitur imago sermonis; sed potius videtur hoc evenire natura locorum, sicut convallium et cetera. 3. Unde hic economus -mi, idest dispensator proprie familie, unde hec economia -e, dispensatio, et economicus -a -um, dispensativus, unde hec economica, scientia qua instruimur in dispensatione proprie familie; et dicitur economus ab eco, quod est sonus reditivus, quia ad eius sonum et vocem tota familia debet ordinari. 4. Vel potius dicitur yconomus ab ycon, quod est imago vel signum, et noma, quod est lex, vel norma, quod est regula. Inde yconomus quasi signatilis lex vel regula, quia ad eius signum et legem vel regulam tota familia debet dispensari; et inde hec yconomia, et cetera.

be quiet. And the name is taken from the birds called graculi “jackdaws,” which always chatter with their importunate loquacity and are never quiet. …24

13. Also, from guttur gurdus -a -um “inept, foolish, useless” … ; and gulus -li, a kind of vessel almost round in the shape of a throat; 14. and gustus -us -ui, one of the five bodily senses; whence gusto -as -vi, and from here gustito -as frequentative: gustare is “to nibble/taste,” which one popularly says assaggiare.25

Excerpt III: I 26 (2.598 f.)

1. YCON -nis and ycona -e and yconia -e,26 that is image or sign, and ycon is the comparison of persons with each other or of the traits which happen to belong to persons, namely when we try to express a figure of an object with something of a similar kind, as in Verg. Aen. 4.558 “omnia Mercurio similis, vocemque coloremque” (in all similar to Mercury, and voice and color) etc.; 2. whence yconisma -e,27 that is image, a figure without a bust under the head, and eco “echo,” indeclinable, as though the word were yco,28 the sound of air or valleys or cliffs or mountains, that is a sound that returns, because it is the image and representation of voice. Some say in fact that the echo is a stone which, capturing the sound of human voice, imitates even the words of those who speak, and it is so called because, as it responds to a voice, the image of somebody else’s speech arises; but this seems to happen rather due to the nature of the places, such as valleys etc. 3. Whence economus -mi, that is the bursar of his own family, whence economia -e “economy,” that is “distribution/administration,” and economicus -a -um “economical,” dispensativus “regulative,” whence economica “economy,” the science which instructs us in distributing the goods in one’s family; and one says economus from eco “echo,” that is a sound that returns, because the whole family must be organized at his sound and voice. 4. Or one rather says yconomus from ycon, that is image or sign, and noma, that is law, or norma, that is rule. Thence yconomus is as though it were a law or rule obeying to a sign, because the whole family must be administered based on his sign and law or rule; and thence yconomia, and so on.29 5. Ycon enters

5. Ycon componitur cum pros, quod est ad, et dicitur hoc prosicum -ci, idest adimaginatio vel signum, unde Martianus “fisiculatis extorum prosicis viscera loquebantur.” Quidam legunt prosicum pro prima parte extorum, a proseco -as, sed hoc melius in sequenti distinguetur.

Excerpt IV: L 10 (2.642)

1. LAGOS grece, latine dicitur cursus vel velocitas, unde apud Grecos lepus vocatur lagos vel lageos, quia velociter currat. 2. Et hinc quedam vitis dicitur lageos grece, leporina latine, quia velociter currat ad maturitatem, ut lepus; vel quia vinum eius venas hominum cito transit. 3. Et hec lagois, quedam avis habens leporinam carnem, et quidam piscis eadem ratione dicitur lagois, unde Oratius (sat. 2, 2, 22). 4. Et hoc laganum, quoddam genus cibi quod prius in aqua coquitur, postea in oleo frigitur; et sunt lagana de pasta quasi quedam membranule, que quandoque statim in oleo friguntur postea melle condiuntur, quandoque prius in aqua coquuntur postea in oleo friguntur: Illa vulgo dicuntur crustella, ista lasania; et dicuntur sic, quia suavia sunt ad comedendum ut caro leporina.

composition with pros, that is ad “to,” and so one says prosicum -ci “answer,”30 that is “imagination-to”31 or sign, whence Martianus [Capella wrote] “fisiculatis extorum prosicis viscera loquebantur.”32 Some read prosicum in the sense of the first part of the entrails, from proseco -as “to cut off,” but this will be better distinguished in the following.

Excerpt IV: L 10 (2.642)

1. LAGOS in Greek, one says in Latin cursus “run” or velocitas “speed,”33 whence among the Greeks the hare is called lagos or lageos,34 because it runs quickly. 2. And from here a sort of vine is called lageos in Greek,35 leporina in Latin,36 since it grows [lit. runs] fast to ripeness, like a hare; or because the wine made out of it passes swiftly through the people’s veins. 3. And the lagois, a sort of bird whose meat is as tasty as the hare’s, and a sort of fish is also called lagois “grouse” for the same reason, whence Horace (sat. 2, 2, 22).37 4. And the laganum, a certain type of food which is first cooked in water, then fried in oil; and the lagana are made of dough like a kind of small membranes, which, at times as soon as they are fried in oil are then seasoned with honey, at times are first boiled in water and then fried in oil: the former are called popularly crustella “fritter,” the latter lasania “lasagna”; and one calls them so (i.e., lagana), because they are as delicious to eat as hare meat.38

Abbreviations and Symbols




de Vaan, Michiel. Etymological Dictionary of Latin and the Other Italic Languages, Leiden: Brill, 2008.




Marcus Terentius Varro, De lingua Latina




Proto-Indo European




Horace, Satires

Verg. Aen.

Virgil, The Aneid


etymological derivation


reconstructed form


Thanks to Monica Berté and Carmen Cardelle de Hartmann for their advice, without which translating Hugutio’s impervious Latin would have been much harder.


Biographical information on Hugutio can be consulted in Schizzerotto, “Uguccione (Uguiccione) da Pisa.” Müller, Huguccio, holds that our lexicographer and the bishop and canonist are two different persons, but the arguments do not seem cogent.


Dante cites Hugutio only once in his Convivio (1304–1307), but the definitions provided in the Derivationes lie in filigree behind passages of the Divina Commedia, cf. Toynbee, “Dante’s Latin Dictionary”; and much subsequent work, some of which is cited in fn. 23 below.


This dating and localization ultimately goes back to Lindsay, “The Abstrusa Glossary,” 126. In this line (see also Barbero, “Liber Glossarum,” 151–152; Ganz, “The ‘Liber Glossarum,’ ” 129–130), it has been maintained that the Liber was materially realized (in some monastery dependent on the abbey at Corbie in Picardy, Northern France) by disaggregating Isidore’s text into a series of index cards: cf. Cardelle de Hartmann, “Uso y recepción,” 493. In connection with a digital edition (Grondeux and Cinato, Liber Glossarum Digital), Cinato and Grondeux, “Nouvelles hypothèses,” recently revert to the earlier dating by Goetz, “Der Liber glossarum,” 287–288, who argued for an earlier origin in Visigothic Spain (690–750 CE), much closer to Isidore.


Herman, “End of the History of Latin,” 375. See the discussion in the introduction to Chapter 2.7.


Even Isidore’s Etymologies reached the age of the new medium, as it was printed repeatedly ever since the fifteenth century (see Chapter 2.7, fn. 4).


On the rise of alphabetical ordering in Latin lexicography, see Daly and Daly, “Some Techniques,” 237. Miethaner-Vent, “Das Alphabet,” 96 argues that Papias renounces applying the “mechanical alphabet” (i.e., strict alphabetical order) due to the problems posed by vacillation in orthography: for instance, he spells aenormis “enormous” instead of Classical Latin enormis, putting it under Æ-. Only the restoration of the classical orthography in the humanism made consequent application of the alphabetical order possible.


See the introduction to Chapter 2.7.


Varro is here citing his teacher, Lucius Aelius Stilo Praeconinus (154–74 BCE).


Varro, On the Latin Language, trans. Kent.


Note that the vol- strings contained in Latin volare “to fly,” on the one hand, and volubilis “revolving, changing,” on the other, happen to be homophonous but go back to two distinct Indo-European roots, respectively *gwelh1-ie/o- “to raise arms, throw” vs. *wel-u- “to wind” (EDL 687–690). Needless to say, vulpes actually comes from still another Indo-European root.


Etymologies of Isidore of Seville, 253.


Isidore of Seville—though not proficient in Greek himself—played a key role in this metabolization (cf. Chapter 2.7).


No complete translation in any language is available to date.


The legal term praevaricatio meant “collusion” in Classical Latin and comes to mean “(original) sin” in Christian Latin.


It. suggestivo, like Eng. suggestive lacks any negative connotation today, which was, however, still present in eighteenth-century Italian, when the Vocabolario degli Accademici della Crusca glossed suggestivo (and late Latin suggestivus, not attested in Classical Latin) as “Che ingannevolmente trae altrui di bocca ciò, che non avrebbe detto” (That deceptively draws from someone else’s mouth what they would not have said). Vocabolario degli Accademici della Crusca, 4th ed., 4: 807.


Protoplastus, -ī (< Gk. πρωτόπλαστος), “the one who was molded first,” a scriptural word for Adam (and Eve).


This may be reminiscent of philosophy’s torn dress in Boethius’s De consolatione philosophiae 1.24–25: “Eandem tamen vestem violentorum quorundam sciderant manus et particulas quas quisque potuit abstulerant” (But violent hands had ripped this dress and torn away what bits they could). Boethius, Theological Tractates, 133–135.


In this Medieval textual tradition, the ethnic adjective Celticus (Celtic) has come to mean “noble,” as witnessed by Hugutio himself (C 128.2; “celticus -a -um idest nobilis”). Decusatio (adornment) is post-classical Latin too. Since it is the adornment of language which is at stake here, it may not be idle to mention that Grammatica, the character that says “I” in Osbern’s dictionary, is introduced (Prologus 5) as celticafemina (Celtic; i.e., noble, woman). Osberno, Derivazioni, 6.


The Greek loanword gymnosophista “(naked) philosopher, gymnosophist,” in medieval Latin shifts its meaning to indicate a “teacher,” as witnessed by Hugutio himself (G 54.6): “gignosophista -ste, idest doctor, magister in gignasio.” This is reported at the entry “GIGNOS grece, latine dicitur nudus,” a corruption of Gk. γυμνός.


The two interpretations of the name rely respectively on Lat. euge “well done!” (a Hellenism) and vigeo “I am strong.”


Departing from alphabetical order, after this Prologus the dictionary starts with the entry augeo, which in turn contains as a first derivative autor (i.e., auctor, compare It. autore), whose discussion was influential in the culture of the Middle Ages and which is cited by Dante, Convivio–5; cf. e.g., Picone, “Dante e Uguccione,” 271; Ascoli, “Reading Dante’s Readings,” 137.


Main entries are boldfaced and in capitals, while subentries are just boldfaced.


The whole passage is taken verbatim from Isidore’s Etymologies 12.7.45 (§ 2) and 10.G.114 (§ 3), where two distinct derivations are reported, which go in opposite directions; i.e., “Graculus, a garrulitate nuncupatus” (The jackdaw graculus is named for its garrulity), in the former, as opposed to “Garrulus … Sumtum nomen a graculis avibus” (The term is taken from the bird called jackdaw), in the latter passage. The two words are indeed unrelated: the name of the jackdaw, like other Indo-European words such as English to croak, crow, etc., is most probably onomatopoetic, while the adjective garrulus derives from garrire “to chatter” < PIE *ǵeh2r-ie/o- ‘to shout’ (EDL 255 and 268).


This is the very first occurrence of the Italian assaggiare “to taste, try,” otherwise attested in Italian texts since the late thirteenth century, which stems from Late Latin exagiare, attested in an inscription from Leptis Magna (late fifth/early sixth century).


Icona “image,” a feminine noun stemming from Gk. εἰκών via the accusative εἰκόνα, as well as its synonymous iconia occur in Medieval Latin texts, and so does, if more rarely, icon, -is, a direct transposition of the Gk. neuter noun. As for orthography, it must be kept in mind that early in the current era, Old Greek [eː], [ɛː], [oi̯] and [y] (spelled ⟨ει, η, οι⟩ and ⟨υ⟩ respectively) had merged into [i]. This explains the use of graphical ⟨y⟩ for [i], often in words with a Greek flavor.


Gk. εἰκόνισμα, -ατος “image,” a neuter noun reanalyzed as a class one feminine yconisma, -e.


From here on, Uguccione adjusts the spelling in order to suit the etymology: thus, non-existing yco is spelled this way to support the asserted link of “echo” with “image.”


Œconomia (from Old Greek οἰκονομία, a derivative of οἶκος “house”) and derived words were normally spelled with e- in Medieval Latin, but Uguccione uses y- here to adjust it to the “etymology” from ycon. Curiously, this produces a spelling that is in line with the pronunciation of οἰκονομία in Byzantine and modern Greek (see fn. 26).


Late Latin prosicum (responsum), “Responsum, apud Laurentium in Amalth. ex Papia.” Du Cange, Glossarium mediae et infimae latinitatis, t. 6, col. 539b.


The word adimaginatio seems to be a nonce formation.


Martianus Capella (flourished sixth century CE), De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii. I 9: “fissiculatis extorum prosiciis, uiscera loquebantur …” (By the separation of entrails [of slaughtered animals], the viscera declared …). Harris Stahl, Johnson, and Burge, Martianus Capella, 8. The quotation, in the same form as in Hugutio, occurs in Osbern. F xl 5, Osberno, Derivazioni, 270; and, with “phisiculatis,” in S xxii 24, 634.


Gk. λαγώς (Ion. λαγός) means “hare,” not “(a) run” nor “speed.” The artificial creation of these meanings by metonymia becomes clear in the light of Etymologies 17.1.23: “Lepus, levipes, quia velociter currit. Unde et graece pro cursu λαγώς dicitur” (The hare, as if the word were levipes “swift foot,” because it runs swiftly. Whence in Greek it is called λαγώς, because of its swiftness). Etymologies of Isidore of Seville, 248. Thus, Isidore established the relation, though in turn “L’explication d’Isidore par pro cursu est elle-même inexpliquée” (Isidore’s explanation through pro cursu is itself unexplained), as Jacques André puts it. Isidore de Séville, Étymologies, Book 12, ed. André, 55.


Gk. λάγειος “leporine” is the derived adjective, not a variant of the noun λαγώς.


This is the Gk. adjective λάγειος “of hare,” not otherwise documented to refer to a species of vine.


Leporina as a vine’s name does not seem to be otherwise attested in (Medieval) Latin. The only occurrence of this word as a name for a plant is in Isidore, Etymologies 17.9.43, but it concerns a kind of grass that “is also called ‘hare-like’ (leporina) because it sends out a supple stalk.” Etymologies of Isidore of Seville, 352.


As a fish name, it is a hapax in Horace’s passage cited by Hugutio, where it occurs in a series with ostrea “oysters” and scarus “parrotfish.” For the ancient commentaries (scholia) to Horace, lagois seems to have been familiar as the name of a bird, rather than that of a fish.


The passage contains the earliest occurrence of some Italian words. While lagana in Classical Latin is the plural of laganum, “a kind of unleavened cake made of flour and oil” (from Gk. λάγανον), here the word has become a feminine singular, which denotes a thin dough: formally, lagana is still the name of “lasagne” (a layered pasta dish) in the dialects of southern Italy (e.g., Calabrian lágana e ciceri “lasagne and chickpeas”). Here, lagana are subdivided, according to preparation, into crustella “fritter” and lasania. Neither is a Latin word, and the latter is the earliest attestation of Italian lasagna, which dictionaries usually date to the early fourteenth century, when it first occurred in Italian texts. Cf. Riessner, Die “Magnae derivationes,” 135–136. The word is in turn of Greek origin, stemming ultimately from Gk. λάσανον “cooking pot,” borrowed into Latin as lasănum, whose derivative *lasània is the immediate source of lasagne.


Primary Text

Critical Edition

Uguccione da Pisa [Hugutio]. Derivationes. Edited by Enzo Cecchini, Guido Arbizzoni, Settimio Lanciotti, Giorgio Nonni, Maria Grazia Sassi, and Alba Tontini. Florence: Sismel Edizioni del Galluzzo, 2004.

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Facsimile edn. of the manuscript Plut. 27 sin.5, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Florence:

Uguccione da Pisa. Derivationes. Presented by Giovanni Nencioni. Florence, Accademia della Crusca, 2000.

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