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Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Is there a single word for what I'm trying to say?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (34389points) November 9th, 2013
30 responses
“Great Question” (3points)

I remember hearing or reading a single word that meant the following:

“a favorite book that a person carries with them everywhere.”

Does a single word for that long phrase exist in English?

I swear I remember reading or hearing it many moons ago.

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gailcalled's avatar

You can say “my bible,” which does have that metaphorical sense now. For a long time, I felt that way about a book on poetic meter and poetic form. It was small and fitted into my purse and went with me on line at the bank and in doctors’ waiting rooms.

YARNLADY's avatar


Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@gailcalled I know exactly which book you carried with you. Saying “bible” for what I’m trying to convey doesn’t quite hit the mark.

@YARNLADY When I hear “tome,” I hear “large book.”

fluthernutter's avatar

Vade mecum?

Don’t know of an equivalent in English.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@fluthernutter By golly, I think that’s it!

fluthernutter's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake Glad to help.
[tips imaginary hat/lid]

gailcalled's avatar

@fluthernutter: Lovely and news to me. Thank you.

fluthernutter's avatar

@gailcalled Thank Hawaii_Jake for asking the question, not me. ;)

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

When I was typing up the question and its details, I was wondering to myself that it may have been Latin, but I left that out of the details. I should know better than to edit my own writing in that fashion. It was an important detail.

Seek's avatar

And we have a Word of the Day!

We should do this more often.

Can someone write it out phonetically for those of us who went to public school and never learned to pronounce Latin?

livelaughlove21's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr You can find that here and also listen to it being pronounced.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Excellent. And I can find no adequate English synonym. So, I suppose the Little Red Book would have been the vade mecum under Mao. Thanks!

gailcalled's avatar

VA day MAY cum is as good a guess as any.

Translates as “go with me.”

livelaughlove21's avatar

@gailcalled According to the link I provided, it’s Vay-dee-me-cum.

gailcalled's avatar

No one really knows. I learned it this way from my HS Latin teacher, Miss Wallace. She was probably born during the reign of Augustus Caesar.

“De Profundis,” a poem by Christina Rossetti, is commonly pronounced “Day profundis..” (Out of the depths).

The expression “deo volente” as “DAY oh vo LEN tay. (God willing)

janbb's avatar

Damn – I was going to say vade mecum too and felt very clever at remembering it!

gailcalled's avatar

How would you pronounce it? (I knew that you would know.)

janbb's avatar

My library school professor pronounced it VAH-day Mee-cum.

SecondHandStoke's avatar


Come with mee!

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I think it is from which side of the pond our Latin teachers came from. Mine would have me pronounce it VAH-Day MAY-Koom, accent on the first syllables. Irish Jesuits.

glacial's avatar

I would pronounce it as @Espiritus_Corvus did, although my Latin teacher would insist that it’s WAH-Day MAY-Koom.

But then, like most people, I also balk at quoting Caesar as having said “Wenny weedy weechy”.

Strauss's avatar

If it’s Classical Latin (the Latin of the Caesars) it would be WAH-day MAY-koom. The later version, Eccliastical Latin, would be VAH-day May-cum.

@glacial I think that would be “wenny weedy weeky”. The “ch” sound before e or i is not a classic pronunciation.

glacial's avatar

@Yetanotheruser Too true! Nice catch.

Strauss's avatar

@glacial Thanks. I studied both forms, Classical as a freshman in high school, and Ecclesiastical later on in seminary.

Jeruba's avatar

As I understand it, vade mecum refers to a manual or reference that you carry with you everywhere, like the Junior Woodchucks Guidebook, which had the answer to everything. These days I suppose that would be a smartphone.

dgee's avatar

The latin expression is not common enough to let people know what you mean. I’ve heard the expression ‘That’s my bible’ [small b] since I was a young boy. . . .

fundevogel's avatar

For what its worth I had a professor that would say, “always bring with you the secular bible,” by which he meant the course reader. He wasn’t a very good professor, but English was his second language and I liked how he could turn a phrase in beautiful, but completely irregular ways. “My favorite foods: meat of fish and flesh of birds.”

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@dgee That a word or expression is uncommon has never deterred me from its use.

Strauss's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake Indubitably!

SecondHandStoke's avatar

Manifesto by proxy.

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