Wednesday, August 24, 2011

rara avis

rara avis [ˈrɛərə ˈeɪvɪs] n.

1.) A person of a type seldom encountered; an exceptional person, a paragon. Occas. without article.
2.) That which is seldom found; an unusual occurrence, etc.; something very remarkable.
3.) lit. A rare bird (O.E.D. 2nd Ed.).

Etymology: Latin rara avis : rara, feminine of rarus, rare + avis, bird.

"Sit formosa decens dives fecunda, vetustos
porticibus disponat avos, intactior omni
crinibus effusis bellum dirimente Sabina,
rara avis in terris nigroque simillima cycno:
quis feret uxorem cui constant omnia?"

(Satura, Decimus Junius Juvenalis, ~100).

"Suppose her free from strife,
Rich, fair, and fruitful, of unblemish'd life;
Chaste as the Sabines, whose prevailing charms
Dismiss'd their husbands, and their brother's arms:
Grant her, besides, of noble blood that ran
In ancient veins ere heraldry began:
Suppose all these, and take a poet's word,
A black swan is not half so rare a bird.
A wife, so hung with virtues, such a freight,
What mortal shoulders could support the weight!"
(The Satires of Decimus Junius Juvenalis, John Dryden (trans.), 1693).

(Cornelia refuse la couronne des Ptolémées, Laurent de La Hyre, 1646)


Inverse said...

I'm liking this word, I'll be using it a lot after this.

shari said...

I've heard people actually say that someone was "a rare bird" and they COULD HAVE used the term "rara avis" instead, and sounded way smarter.

I visualized one of those crazy birds of paradise when I read this.

meandmythinkingcap said...

Didnt know this one. I like the word.

GMSoccerPicks said...

I use that one all the time. It's even used in spanish, mostly in law texts.

Anonymous said...

I just discovered this blog, and I like it. :D

Sick by Trend said...

Love this word, is new for me :)


D4 said...

This one is pretty to me.

jos xx said...

re your comment: don't flatter yourself too much, blondie boy. You didn't write my subtitle..ok just one word. and neither were you my inspiration behind the black and white style. the beach is just one fantastic place to meet pretty bloggers...oops, i forgot to mention where to find the nerdy ones ;)

re this word: i would def use this word when i see some rare bird haha!

jos xx

DEZMOND said...

I think somebody called me this .. once :)

Henry said...

haha I think I'd rather call someone a "rare bird" instead.

Kid Shuffle said...

Both "rara avis" and "rare bird" are quite nice!^

Bibi said...

Rara avis is mainly positive, right? Like in virtuous and all that? Not rare like in abnormal? Anyhow, no matter what kind of rare it is, it would apply to me. Bibi = unique snowflake. :p

re: it is alive!! Only one step away from jumping out of your screen and doing a little quirky dance in front of you :p
If there's evidence of that animating project you were talking about, I'd really like to see it ^^

Bibi said...

re: Ah, I already suspected you'd burned all possible evidence. I've got my best developers working on a 3D Bibi-avatar that's mind-controlled, but I think it might take another two to three years until we get close to having her dance around you. Think you can avoid finishing your thesis until then?

Jennifer Fabulous said...

You are a rara avis.

Bibi said...

re: Well then I guess it's a good thing 3D Bibi isn't available yet. How's the thesis going? Or maybe you don't want me asking about it - I always hated it when people asked me how everything went. But I think you're a much better student than I am, so I don't expect a negative answer. :)

Bibi said...

re: Yep, not sure when though. They'll e-mail us with further information -__- Sometimes I really do hate my uni.
With me it was the other way around: my thesis has been a giant pain in the butt, while my undergrad thesis (we call it our bachelor's thesis) went almost perfectly. My own fault, I let my personal life get in the way while I shouldn't have done anything besides research and writing.

Glad to hear you're at the finishing touches. Make it a literary masterpiece!! I'm sure it'll be wonderful :) What's it about? Sure not physics or math or anything, I doubt those type of theses ask for "rhetorical flourishes".

ivy said...

Just like the Fonz...hahahaa...

Hope those words are just coming to you with the writing.

jos xx said...

re: yeah right. i bet you have better abs than c.ronaldo lol.

jos xx

Lemons Don't Make Lemonade said...


I'm falling in love with that word.

I should insert it into my Facebook profile or something. It's SO me.

Anonymous said...

I visualized a phoenix while reading this post. Although a phoenix is a mythological bird and non-existent, 'Rara non sum'?

JayJay said...

I missed this one. Glad I decided to revisit your blog today. I like this word. It sounds so pretty as well.

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