ab ovo

\ ab-ˈō-(ˌ)vō How to pronounce ab ovo (audio) \

Definition of ab ovo

: from the beginning

Get Poetic With Ab Ovo

Ab ovo usque ad mala. That phrase translates as "from the egg to the apples," and it was penned by the Roman poet Horace. He was alluding to the Roman tradition of starting a meal with eggs and finishing it with apples. Horace also applied ab ovo in an account of the Trojan War that begins with the mythical egg of Leda from which Helen (whose beauty sparked the war) was born. In both cases, Horace used ab ovo in its literal sense, "from the egg," but by the 16th century Sir Philip Sidney had adapted it to its modern English sense, "from the beginning": "If [the dramatic poets] wil represent an history, they must not (as Horace saith) beginne Ab ouo: but they must come to the principall poynt of that one action."

First Known Use of ab ovo

1583, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ab ovo

Latin, literally, from the egg

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The first known use of ab ovo was in 1583

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Cite this Entry

“Ab ovo.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ab%20ovo. Accessed 30 May. 2020.

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