How did 1 beneath semantically shift to 2? Etymonline:


1530s, abbreviation of videlicet [2.] "that is to say, to wit, namely" (mid-15c.),
from Latin videlicet, contraction of videre licet [1.] "it is permissible to see,"
from videre "to see" (see vision) + licet "it is allowed," third person singular present indicative of licere "be allowed" (see licence).
The -z- is not a letter, but originally a twirl, representing the usual Medieval Latin shorthand symbol for the ending -et. "In reading aloud usually rendered by 'namely.' " [OED]

The semantic shift for 'scilicet' looks similar, but I also don't understand it.

  • 3
    In spoken English a thoughtful person, gathering their thoughts might say, "I was watching, let's see, twelve or fifteen goldfinches eating berries." Videlicet must be very close to parenthetic 'let's see;' and similar in meaning if licet =allow=let.
    – Hugh
    Sep 4, 2018 at 3:44

1 Answer 1


"it is allowed to see" -> "you can see" -> "you can notice" -> "something worth noticing" -> "to wit, namely"

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.