scilicet: How did 'it is permitted to know' semantically shift to signify 'that is to say, namely'?


New Member
1. How did signification 1 beneath semantically shift to 2?

2. I'm befuddled by the relevant of licit, because what does "permitted" here signify? Why would a Roman require permission to know something?

scilicet on Etymonline.

late 14c., Latin, "you may know, you may be sure, it is certain," used in sense [2.] "that is to say, namely," contraction of [1.] scire licit "it is permitted to know,"
from scire "to know" (see science); for second element see licit.

Used as was Old English hit is to witanne, literally "it is to wit" (see wit (v.)). Often abbreviated sc. or scil.


Staff member
Licet isn't necessarily about permission in the literal sense of a permission you get from someone. It can also just mean that something is possible for you to do, that you get the chance to do something, and the like.