Viz. (also rendered viz without a full stop) and the adverb videlicet are used as synonyms for "namely", "that is to say", and "as follows".
Viz. is an abbreviation of videlicet, which itself is a contraction from Latin of "videre licet" meaning "it is permitted to see." Both forms introduce a specification or description of something stated earlier; this is often a list preceded by a colon (:). Although both forms survive in English, viz. is far more common than videlicet.
A similar expression is scilicet, abbreviated as sc., which is Latin for "it is permitted to know". Viz. is usually used to elaborate or detail text which precedes it, while sc. provides a parenthetic clarification, removes an ambiguity, or supplies a word omitted in preceding text.
In legal usage, scilicet appears abbreviated as ss. or, in a caption, as §, where it provides a statement of venue and is read as "to wit".
- Viz. is usually read aloud as "that is", "namely", or "to wit", but is sometimes pronounced as it is spelled, /ˈvɪz/.
- Scilicet can be read as "namely," "to wit," or "that is to say," or pronounced /ˈsɪlɨsɛt/ or /ˈskiːlɨkɛt/.
Etymology and original usage
Viz. is the medieval scribal abbreviation for videlicet, specifically using a Tironian abbreviation (⁊ for "and" is the only other Tironian abbreviation remaining in use). It is the letters v and i followed by the common medieval Latin contraction for et and -et, which was a glyph, similar in appearance to the numeral 3 or the Middle English letter yogh (Ȝ) although it was not related to either.[note 1]
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