Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Ditto


Ditto marks in our day look like double commas. They are placed on the line below something already written when you wish to repeat it unchanged. In earlier centuries, it was sometimes indicated by using dots, dashes, or the abbreviation do.

When first used in English in 1625, its use was confined to repeated dates. In time, it expanded to various commercial and bookkeeping uses, and finally worked its way into colloquial expressions. It came to mean an exact copy of anything, and in the early 20th century, it was the proprietary name of an electrically operated duplicating machine manufactured in Chicago.

The word came directly from an Italian participle that meant aforementioned; in turn, that came from a Latin participle meaning [already] said.


SIDEBAR: Beth Ditto/GOSSIP


Now available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition


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