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Latin Phrase: Annus Horribilis

by Nenke
(Toronto, Canada)

Dear Latin Teacher,


I have had a horrible week with one wedding, four deaths, three funerals. I wanted to mimic Queen Elizabeth II with her Annus Horribilis comment. Once upon a time I had the resource books for this - but not any more.

Sincerely,

Nenke


Dear Nenke,

I am sorry for your horrible week, and equally sorry for my late reply. (The birth of my first son has sent my life into a tailspin for the opposite reason.)

Annus of course means 'year', with derivatives in English such as annual, perennial, and annuity.

Horribilis is more interesting in its derivation. The root of this Latin word, from the verb horreo, horrere, means to bristle or to stand on end. It describes the feeling of fear and dread, perhaps at a moment of danger, that causes the hair to stand up on end all over one's body. To be horrified is to be bristling with fear.

For a phrase to correctly describe your own hair-raising week, replace annus with septimana.

Septimana horribilis means a seven day period of horror, of shakiness, of the inability to act because of physical or emotional unsteadiness.

I am sorry for your loss. But I hope you enjoyed the wedding. The newlyweds are in for an 'annus mirabilis', a year of amazement.

Sincerely,

John

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Comments for Latin Phrase: Annus Horribilis

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Three weeks of misery?
by: Anonymous

I would be grateful for the translation for three weeks of misery. Does that translate as Ventimana horribilis .


Try viginti et unus dies horribiles!

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Septimana horribilis indeed
by: Anonymous

Hello, I have had a bit of a Septimana horribilis this week and wanted to put it in colourful words, this helps a lot.

Thank you

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