Saturday, 12 October 2013

What does “Lesus” mean?

When the news broke of the misprint of the name of Jesus on the new papal medals, one of my first reactions (and a rather frivolous one) was to wonder if the word “Lesus” meant anything.

The same idea had evidently occurred elsewhere: a commenter on another blog mentioned that someone in Mexico (I think) had discussed the meaning. The commenter did not pass it on, apart from the clue in her spelling of it, which was “L(a)esus”. I thought I would check it out in my Latin dictionary, thinking, of course that it might mean something rather apt.

“Laesus” is the past participle of the verb “laedo” – I hurt, wound, injure, damage. Its figurative meaning is: trouble, annoy, vex, injure, insult, offend, afflict, grieve, hurt.

Latin diphthongs are often simplified, as you know. It is interesting to see that the English word “lesion” comes from the same verb.

Of all the meanings it might have had …

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