December 25th, 2014

words are sexy

Thursday yuletide word: sortilege

Not that this has anything to do with Christmas:


sortilege (SOR-ti-lij) - n., the practice of divination by drawing lots; by extension, witchcraft or magic, esp. when used to make decisions.


This is the name (anglicized, of course) for the practice by the ancient Romans, who cast or drew sortes, or lots (root is sors, fate), which were then interpreted by the sortilegus, the lot-reader. The more modern term is cleromancy, which covers all varieties of divination by random processes, including drawing cards, throwing dice, and so on. Divination by lots also appears throughout the Bible.

Then he had recourse to sortilege, and cast lots to decide the matter.

Have a merry Christmas, those of you who celebrate it.

---L.