Word of the Day

ab initio

audio pronunciation
July 15, 2010
: from the beginning
"What does not exist ab initio is wealth; wealth must be created by sustained human effort." (Richmond Times Dispatch [Virginia], December 14, 2008)
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Did You Know?
We’ll tell you right from the beginning where "ab initio" comes from. This adverb was adopted at the end of the 16th century directly from Latin, and it translates, unsurprisingly, as "from the beginning." ("Initio" is a form of the noun "initium," meaning "beginning," which gave rise to such English words as "initial," "initiate," and "initiative.") "Ab initio" most frequently appears in legal contexts, but our example sentence is not out of the norm. Recently, people have also begun using "ab initio" as an adjective meaning "starting from or based on first principles" (as in "predicted from ab initio calculations").
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