• vatic •
væ-dik • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: Prophetic, oracular, capable of foreseeing and predicting the future.
Notes: Although we use both prophetic and oracular in today's definition, they are not the same. An oracle in ancient Greek and Rome, of course, was a prophecy that came from the gods and was conveyed by someone powerful enough to be in direct contact with the gods. Vatic carries a tinge of this sense. The adjective for this Good Word is vatical and the adverb, vatically. No one seems to have ventured a noun thus far. Today's word is unrelated to Vatican. That word came from Mons Vaticanus "Vatican Hill" named by the Etruscans before the Romans arrived.
In Play: Remember that today's word means "prophetic" with overtones of an infallible oracle: "The company president addressed the board of directors about the future profits of the company in such vatic tones that most members believed him." Of course, you don't have to be an oracle to have vatic powers: "When she shops, mom uses her vatic powers to predict which items will cost more and which will cost less next week."
Word History: English obtained today's Good Word from Latin vates "seer", a word Latin apparently borrowed from a Celtic language. The Celtic language inherited it from a Proto-Indo-European root wet-/wot- "blow, inspire". This same root underlies Wednesday, which was originally Woden's Day, named for the Anglo-Saxon god of wisdom, war, and death, Woden. This root also entered Old English as wod "insane", a word that did not survive the passage of time. It may have lost its W and become the root of Greek atmos "steam", a word that was combined with Latin sphaera to produce atmosphere.