Untranslatable Words #10: Vāde mēcum

Hello peeps! @ailindigo here :)

On this 10th week of Untranslatable Words we're talking about a term from latin, the very old language mother of many european languages. So I guess this time we're not going to a specific country but travelling back in time!

This week's word is the latim term: Vāde mēcum.


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Vāde mēcum

I don't think I have a favorite book but I've carried a few in my bag not only because I was reading them but due to some kind of special bond to their words, which is something I'm pretty sure many of us have done before! At first I thought this could refer to something like an agenda but it's obviously more than that.

Vāde mēcum literally means go (vāde) with me (mēcum) and refers to a book or other thing that a person carries with him as a constant companion; a pocket-companion; a manual; a handbook. *

When looking for the term through internet I found out that it also refers to a reference work that contains fundamental notions or information on a subject, whether scientific or artistic; and are usually used by health professionals to consult on medicine's presentations, compositions and indication.* And even companies have their own vademécums.

So, what is sure about this term is that it refers to a "consultation book", light and easy to handle, definitely a pocket book. Even though I've never had this kind of book, I wonder how many not health vademécums might exist, and I only remember having one when I was studying at the university.

This book my classmates and I considered a vademécum was an English guide a professor of us made and contained the very essential of English language: from basic topics to verbs and idioms; a pretty practical light handbook that I used not only for this professor's subject but all along the career and even when I started teaching. Besides this one I don't remember having any other.


VADEMÉCUM a compilation book of drawings, poems and writings by Manuel Hernandez

I cannot help but think of those little dictionaries you always have in your pocket when travelling, these are a perfect example of a vāde mēcum. However, and as I always romanticize everything, I like to think certain books can be your own vāde mēcum when you just want to remind yourself the message this good book left on you the first time you read it.

A few times I've carried a book I recently read on my bag because I might need to re-read specific parts of it at any/specific moments, converting these books into vāde mēcums can be a helpful tool to face life situations and even everyday issues or current troubles. Though, in this sense of the term, as a vāde mēcum isn't a just a book but also an thing, a companion object, it's also an amulet!

Carrying a significant object or book with you, even if you don't "consult" their info, can make you feel more confident about you and that should be appreciated too. If a book becomes an amulet for you it is certainly one of the best amulets one can have, one that not only gives you luck/confidence but one that you can read and therefore have a more direct and really palpable effect on you.

What do you think? Do you have a book that is a vāde mēcum for you? Be it in the technical or personal sense? Do you think they can work as an amulet too? Please tell me what you think!

Thank you very much for passing by! And if you have an Untranslatable Word you'd like to suggest, please don't hesitate to do so! :)


Previous Untranslatable Words:

#1: Torschlusspanik
#2: Mono no aware
#3: Rasāsvāda
#4: Cavoli riscaldati
#5: Nefelibata
#6: Sturmfrei
#7: Jootha
#8: bilita mpash
#9: resfeber


This content is part of a new series to get more people interested on languages and how they, perception and culture are related!

Exclusively for the Hive Cross Culture Community, the community for language exchange or cross-cultural purposes.

If you'd like to be part of the discussion don't hesitate to hop into the Hive Language and Culture Exchange Discord server! As well as subscribing to the Hive Cross Culture Community so you don't miss any new word comming ;) We'll be sharing a new Untranslatable Word each week!

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