In Latin it means "open mouth,"
whereas in English it denotes "how open your mouth can get." What word is
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The width of your mouth is your mouth's
rictus. In Latin the word rictus means "open mouth." Note: the
width of the anus is NOT called the rictum.
Re: moot-jacko debate - possibly in Latin the form rictus can be
used as both noun and adjective? rictus, -a, -um = "open-mouthed," as in ricta
agricola, "open-mouthed farmer"
slundgren at warnerpacific.edu
This was a difficult question! I just wanted to say how
much I enjoy your questions - I think some of my favorites were about the Punic
war and the mujahidin :) Thanks for sending them. I hope you continue to come
up with more and more questions. Regards,
[Mootguy: Thanks Nadia. Glad to hear you enjoy the
nadia.toromanova at gmail.com
Your answer, "rictus," is a noun; however, the phrasing
of your questions leads one to believe that the response should be in
adjectival form ("How open can your mouth get?" "Extremely open.").
[Mootguy: But it's the same as this
question: "It's a number and it stands for 'how tall you are.' What
number is it?" And this question doesn't lead you to believe that the
response should be an adjective.]
jacko at lycos.com
Re: "It's a number and it stands for 'how tall you are.'" First of
all, were it not for the "it's a number" telling one what sort of word to look
for, you could easily be led to think you should be looking for and adjective.
Secondly-- and this is the clincher-- just parse the
questions grammatically by putting them into the syntactic form of an
assertion: "Your mouth can get how open?" or "You are how tall?" "How open" and
"how tall" are clearly both adjectival phrases which demand an adjectival
response. (The "how"s are adverbs that modify the adjectives "tall" and
jacko at lycos.com
I guess rictus sardonicus refers to how it looks rather than what it
literally is? Sorry, no. That's risus sardonicus. Another word altogether.
mre at xtra.co.nz
Oh, pleeeezzze. Latin puns:)?
[Mootguy: Sorry. Couldn't resist
dcallen at pahouse.net
The first comment posted mentions rictus, -a, -um =
I'm no expert, but I believe that Latin
nouns are usually basically listed giving their nominative and genitive forms,
so that rictus is nominative and ricta is genitive (and rictum - I dunno).
In that case, ricta agricola might literally mean "a
farmer with an open mouth", and hence "an open-mouthed farmer". This would be a
case of a noun (via its genitive) functioning as an adjective. This doesn't
happen as much in English, because usually when a noun is used as an adjective
(e.g. tennis ball, dinner plate) it is unchanged.
English doesn't properly have a genitive case - the closest we get is the
possessive, donated by an apostrophe. Although consider fool's gold - the gold
doesn't belong to any fool; rather, "fool's" describes the fallacious apparent
value of the stuff.
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