I subscribe to Oxford English Dictionary’s Word of the Day email (available through the HWC Library, available only to staff and students). I often enjoy the sly humor of the chosen word.

Sounds like someone at OED may be aware that we are wrapping up registration and starting classes Tuesday. See the email below.

aegrotat, n. 

Pronunciation: Brit. /ˈʌɪgrə(ʊ)tat/, /ˈiːgrə(ʊ)tat/, U.S. /iˈgroʊˌtæt/, /ˈigroʊˌtæt/

Etymology: < classical Latin aegrōtat ‘he is sick’, 3rd person singular of aegrōtāre (see aegrotant n.).

N.E.D. (1884) gives the pronunciation as (igrōu·tæ̆t) /iːˈgrəʊtæt/. Pronunciation with stress on the first syllable is recorded in the first edition of D. Jones Eng. Pronouncing Dict. (1917). Pronunciation with a diphthong in the first syllable is recorded in British dictionaries from the 1980s.

1. In a university or college: a certificate that a student is too ill to attend an examination, etc. Cf. aeger adj. and n.

1794 Gentleman’s Mag. Dec. 1085/2 They sported knowing, and they sported ignorant; they sported an ægrotat.‥ They sported an exeat, they sported a dormiat.

1835 R. Gooch Nuts to Crack 33 He used to get his medical attendant to give him an ægrotat (put him on the sick list).

1841 Westm. Rev. Apr. 235/2 Some men let themselves down off their horses, and send for an ægrotat on the score of a fall.

1864 C. Babbage Passages Life Philosopher 37, I sent my servant to the apothecary for a thing called an aegrotat, which I understood‥meant a certificate that I was indisposed.

1926 Brit. Med. Jrnl. 2 310/1 The sporting man,‥who, after drinking much wine and indulging in Cyprian adventures‥finds himself compelled to send for a surgeon, and is obliged to get an aegrotat.

1986 Times (Nexis) 22 July, I hated games. So did practically everybody‥. The only competition was about who could get an aegrotat for some trifling ailment.

2. An examination pass or (N. Amer.) a credit awarded to a student prevented from sitting an examination because of illness.

1887 Belgravia 63 119 ‘He had taken his degree.’‥ ‘Well, it was an ægrotat or something of that sort, I expect.’

1891 Granta 6 June 363/1 Exhaustion caused by the physical pain and mental worry forced him to give up his Tripos‥and content himself with an Ægrotat.

1904 J. T. Fowler Durham Univ. ii. 42 In 1835 no ægrotat was to be received without a medical certificate.

1943 G. G. Coulton Fourscore Years xiii. 124 Spratt advised me to take an aegrotat, promising a testimonial which would‥do more for me than the sorry place which was sure to result from papers written in my room when I ought to be in hospital.

1985 Undergraduate Cal. (Univ. of Waterloo, Ontario) i. 7/2 AEG, aegrotat, credit granted due to illness.


General attrib., esp. in aegrotat degree.

1829 Ann. Biogr. & Obituary XIII. i. xix. 251 Precluded by this cause from engaging in the honourable contention of the senate-house, he received what is academically termed an aegrotat degree, commencing BA in 1794.

1843 Cambr. Univ. Cal. Addenda p. viii, An ægrotat term is never allowed for sickness before residence.

1943 G. G. Coulton Fourscore Years xiii. 125 Tyke‥managed to get a medical certificate which legitimated his claim for an aegrotat degree.

2009 R. Price Ardent Spirits xiv. 234 He’d almost surely get an aegrotat degree.

Published by Don Laackman

Leader with non-profit, higher education, and private-sector consulting experience.

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