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lucus a non lucendo


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A paradoxical or otherwise absurd derivation; something of which the qualities are the opposite of what its name suggests. Recorded in English from the early 18th century, this Latin phrase means ‘a grove (so called) from the absence of lux (light)’; that is, a grove is named from the fact of its not shining, a proposition discussed by the Roman rhetorician Quintilian (ad c. 35–c. 96) in his Institutio Oratoria.


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