The abbreviation viz. (or viz without a full stop) is short for the Latin videlicet, which itself is a contraction of the Latin phrase videre licet, meaning "it is permitted to see". It is used as a synonym for "namely", "that is to say", "to wit", "which is", or "as follows". It is typically used to introduce examples or further details to illustrate a point. For example: "all types of data viz. text, audio, video, pictures, graphics, can be transmitted through networking".
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Viz. is shorthand for the adverb videlicet. It uses Tironian notes, a system of Latin shorthand. It comprises the first two letters, "vi", followed by the last two, "et", using the z-shaped Tironian "et", historically written ⁊, a common contraction for "et" in Latin shorthand in Ancient Rome and medieval Europe.
Usage of viz
Viz. is an abbreviation of videlicet, which itself is a contraction of videre licet meaning "it is permitted to see". The spelling viz. is the continuation of an abbreviation using Tironian et (vi⁊), the z replacing the ⁊ once the latter had fallen out of common use.
- Viz. is usually read aloud as "that is", "namely", or "to wit", but is sometimes pronounced as it is spelt, viz.: //.
- Videlicet is pronounced // or // in English-speaking countries.
- The main point of his speech, viz. that our attitude was in fact harmful, was not understood.
- "My grandfather had four sons who grew up, viz.: Thomas, John, Benjamin and Josiah."
- The noble gases, viz., helium, neon, argon, xenon, krypton, and radon, show an unexpected behaviour when exposed to this new element.
Compared with scilicet
A similar expression is scilicet, from earlier scire licet, abbreviated as sc., which is Latin for "it is permitted to know." Sc. provides a parenthetic clarification, removes an ambiguity, or supplies a word omitted in preceding text, while viz. is usually used to elaborate or detail text which precedes it.
In legal usage, scilicet appears abbreviated as ss. It can also appear as a section sign (§) in a caption, where it is used to provide a statement of venue, that is to say a location where an action is to take place.
- According to E. Cobham Brewer (1810–1897), Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, the same abbreviation mark was used for "habet" and "omnibus".
- "'videlicet', Random House Dictionary". dictionary.com. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
- Brewer, Ebenezer (1970). Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. New York: Harper & Row. p. 1132.
- Oxford English Dictionary
- The New Fowler's Modern English Usage (revised third edition, 1998), pp. 825, 828.
- American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (fourth edition, 2000), p. 1917
- The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (fourth edition, 2000), p. 1917.
- The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin at Project Gutenberg.
- The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (fourth edition, 2000), p. 1560.