Wednesday, 12 November 2008

What does the word Laconic mean : Origin, meaning and examples

“Brevity of speech” are possibly the three words that globally define laconic. Dictionary definitions abound, and these are a few
- Brief and to the point
- Effectively cut short
- Short, terse
- Curt, almost to the point of rudeness.

A brief, concise and to the point answer to a question can be defined as laconic. A laconic speaker will also use no more words than necessary to carry his message across.
An example of a laconic answer quoted from many sources is the following.
King Phillip of Greece wanted to conquer Sparta.He sent a message to the Spartans saying :-
“ If I invade your country, I will destroy your great city”
The answer that was taken back to him was short and sweet,:-
This brings us back to things Greek and Roman. The Spartans were well known for their ability to suffer hardships and live simply. This simplicity was carried over to their method of speech, that was as frugal as their way of life. Said it as it was, no bells or whistles.
Now, Sparta was the capital city of Laconia, which gave rise to the word laconic.
Another example I like was the answer of a Spartan king on been questioned why the list of Spartan laws was so short. His reply was “ men of few words require few laws”
My favourite must be Julius Caesar and his “ Veni, vidi, vici”, (I came, I saw, I conquered). This was the message sent to the Roman Senate after a significant military victory. This battle was the turning point in his favor after crossing the Rubicon and the consequent civil war. His enemies both military and political had been beaten.

This statement has brevity, significance, a touch of rudeness as well as a bit of dry humor.

Update : 22 January 2009.
Heard this on the History Channel, can also be used as an example. Before the historic battle against Persia the Spartans were told that they were to face 250,000 soldiers, and they had so many archers that their arrows would block out the sun. The Spartan General commented "Good, then we will fight in the shade"

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