Wednesday, April 17, 2013


I don't usually do reposts, ignorance being a well I can draw from readily, but it's been a tough week here in the States for more than one reason, and the word "resilience" has been coming at me from many angles. I thought I might write about it, but then discovered that back in November of 2010, I already had. Boston and Newtown, know that we out here on the West Coast are thinking of you too.

I heard President Obama say in a recent interview that he was impressed by the resilience of the American people in a difficult time, and though at times he had taken his innings, he felt that if the American people could bounce back, the very least he could do was be resilient too.

As a matter of fact, in doing a little spot googling searching for that exact quote, which I failed to find, I see that resilience is a kind of leit motif in his thinking and speaking. He has called New Orleans a national symbol of resilience, and praised India for its resilience too.

Of course, like you, I do know what resilience means. It means the ability to bounce back, usually after adversity of some sort. What I don't know is where it originally comes from. The re-, of course, means "again" in some sense, but what is the 'silience' all about? I actually have no clue. It doesn't really connect to anything else I know. Well, unless you have a better idea, I guess it's time to take a look...

Well, well, well, if it isn't our old friend salire, "to jump, to leap", come back to haunt us.  (No, not Salieri, that's a different old friend.) Sure, we are thrown off the scent by the fact that our last encounter was a -sult ending (consult, insult, result, desultory) and this is a -sil connection, neither of which sound all that much like -sal.

Whatever. I suppose all that leaping around blurs the vowels a bit. But just to be clear--

That's Antonio Salieri, the musical rival of Mozart's, who probably got a bit of a bum rap from popular history when it came to his fellow musician's death. Let's hope that if he knew the rumors, he proved resilient in living them down.


  1. Thank you for this. I've mentioned our resilient spirit in my blog today, too, in the context of a poem for Boston by Scott Poole.

  2. Yes, Kathleen, I think we're on the same page about this.

  3. Hi Seana, exactly so: "resilio" according to the free Latin Dictionary. V leap or spring back; recoil; rebound; shrink (back again) (from re-salire)
    BTW: I've been seeing a lot of "conundrum(s)" in the papers these days. Would you like to enlighten us on that word?

  4. Hugo, I will certainly add it to the list. It's a good one. Thanks for the suggestion.

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  6. Has "somersault" come up in any of your posts related to "salire"?