Tuesday, December 30, 2008



Oxford English Dictionary s.v. -fuge, suffix:
occurring in words (adj. and n.) f. mod.L. types in -fugus. According to classical L. analogy, this ending should be connected with fugĕre to flee (cf. profugus), and should have the sense 'fleeing from' (cf. lucifugus, erifuga). In the medical words febrifugus, lit. driving away fevers, vermifugus expelling worms, however, the ending derives its sense from L. fugāre, to put to flight. In imitation of the anglicized forms of these, nonce-wds. in -fuge have occasionally been formed; chiefly on Lat. stems, as DEMONIFUGE (q.v.), dolorifuge, something to drive away pain; but occasionally on Eng. words, as mendacity-fuge.
OED's only citation for dolorifuge is Thomas Hardy, Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891), I.86:
The children..had made use of this idea as a species of dolorifuge after the death of the horse.
Dennis Taylor, Hardy's Literary Language and Victorian Philology (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), p. 29, quotes a reviewer's disapproval of dolorifuge and other such outlandish words in Hardy:
Think how absolutely out of colour in Arcadia are such words as 'dolorifuge', 'photosphere', 'heliolatries', 'arborescence', 'concatenation', 'noctambulist'—where, indeed, are such in colour?—and Mr. Hardy further uses that horrid verb 'ecstatisize'.
A search for dolorifuge in Le Trésor del la Langue Française Informatisé yields no results, but the word was not uncommon as an adjective in 19th century French medical texts, as Google Book Search shows.

Otto Gradenwitz, Laterculi vocum Latinarum (Leipzig: S. Hirzel, 1904) lists aquifuga, confuga, defuga, *diffugus, erifuga, herifuga, larifuga, lucifuga, lucifugus, lucrifuga, *luctifugus, nubifugus, profuga, refuga, refugus, solifuga, transfuga, *umbrifugus, to which could perhaps be added *stellifugus —Oskar Hey conjectured stellifugo for stellifico in Pseudo-Victorinus, De Iesu Christo 114 (diviserat umbram stellifugo temone iubar). Nubifugus and perhaps *stellifugus are exceptions to what OED regards as "classical L. analogy," as they mean, respectively, putting the clouds or the stars to flight. Pseudo-Victorinus may not be "classical Latin," but Columella (who used nubifugus) certainly is.

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