Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Seal

SEAL, n. A mark impressed upon certain kinds of documents to attest their authenticity and authority. Sometimes it is stamped upon wax, and attached to the paper, sometimes into the paper itself. Sealing, in this sense, is a survival of an ancient custom of inscribing important papers with cabalistic words or signs to give them a magical efficacy independent of the authority that they represent. In the British museum are preserved many ancient papers, mostly of a sacerdotal character, validated by necromantic pentagrams and other devices, frequently initial letters of words to conjure with; and in many instances these are attached in the same way that seals are appended now. As nearly every reasonless and apparently meaningless custom, rite or observance of modern times had origin in some remote utility, it is pleasing to note an example of ancient nonsense evolving in the process of ages into something really useful. Our word "sincere" is derived from sine cero, without wax, but the learned are not in agreement as to whether this refers to the absence of the cabalistic signs, or to that of the wax with which letters were formerly closed from public scrutiny. Either view of the matter will serve one in immediate need of an hypothesis. The initials L.S., commonly appended to signatures of legal documents, mean locum sigillis, the place of the seal, although the seal is no longer used — an admirable example of conservatism distinguishing Man from the beasts that perish. The words locum sigillis are humbly suggested as a suitable motto for the Pribyloff Islands whenever they shall take their place as a sovereign State of the American Union.

2008 Update: The portion of a Dear John letter providing some closure.

Not that I've been around much anyway, but it's primary day in California so I'll be clerking for the County all day.  To my friends in Super Tuesday states, remember to vote before celebrating Mardi Gras.  Afterwards, debauchery is appropriate. 

20 comments:

Minka said...

Yeah *jumps up and down*

Minka said...

(sorry about that display of childish joy up there.)

shouldn't there be a rule as to how long a definition should be? If you read the definition and it poses three new words you have never seen...doesn't that defeat the purpose?

seal,n. a Heidi Klum magnet

mireille said...

proud of you for your civic responsibility ... do people get beads after they vote in CA? xoxo Also, favorite Seal: Seventh. xoxo

pia said...

It's too early to celebrate Mardi Gras. That might come next November

Then again Bush might declare himself king. he's done stranger things

Seal: to stamp America as it is today closed and begin the healing process

Mo'a said...

I love the English language...first when I saw the word Seal, I thought of a ball on a nose.
At further reading...my mind wandered thinking of an all together different art project.
I will be voting today...every vote counts...we need change, and I will do my little part.

G said...

Tali has placed her seal of approval and I have cast my vote on our behalf. I am hoping other voters do the same.

Now I walk away with visuals of a seal with a ball. Thanks Mo'a - that was cute.

TLP said...

My lips are sealed. ('cause I have absolutely nothin' to say.)

quilly said...

I visualized a seal with a ball on it's nose, too. But in my vision there were letters stuck all over the poor thing. Thanks, Doug. And I'm certain the seal thanks you, too.

ariel said...

"When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour." It totally stuns me that someone did care to let us know the exact lenght of time. It sounds threatening.

Doug, I am so proud of you, too.

the amoeba said...

SEAL, n. A kindred spirit, Dawg. Arf! Arf!

;)

It's being noised about here that Super Tuesday may leave at least one of the nominations undecided. Which means they'll all be coming to Hawai‘i to get its seal of approval. Its monk seal?

Why not have a monk run for President? There's already a saint in the race ...

sauerkraut said...

No, OC.

In New England, a seal is what you find in a hahbah. Think Andre. The Seal. Buried upon the shores of Wintah Hahbah or thereabouts.

Mutha said...

I VOTED!!

And now I will balance a ball on my nose if I can find one around here....

Jamie Dawn said...

Dear John letters are never SEALED with a kiss.

That kid I spoke of yesterday in my comment is not the same kid as the one who thought tallness made a person more likely to get cancer. Taylor has a few very dumb friends, and I will post about them one of these days. They are quite something!

I'm sitting here with the local weather channel on because we are under a tornado watch. FUN!! Not really. I voted earlier today. Huckabee & Hillary are sure to be winners in AR tonight, but I still voted any way.

Happy Super Tuesday!!
We shall see if anyone SEALS a victory tonight for either party. I kind of doubt it will be over tonight.

The Old Mule said...

seal: a slippery kiss.

Cooper said...

Seal: married to Heidi Klum yet still best known for A Kiss From a Rose.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUZ6eanKPDY

actonbell said...

Happy clerking! That's cool.

I think wax seals are cool. When I first heard "sealing wax" mentioned in that dragon song, I thought it was ceiling wax. For all I knew, people waxed their ceilings(and other fancy stuff).

weirsdo said...

Seal: Trainable animal. I predict the successful candidate will ultimately learn to balance the ball of state on her or his nose just like everybody else.

Counties around Mobile voted early, but are counted with everyone else.

I Dive At Night said...

Seal: The action that a leaky washer fails to produce in the kitchen sink.

Can you imagine being in that exciting time of change when sealing letters with wax was first invented?!? So exciting! And so much more effective than chisselling," Do Not Read" on the top of the tablet.

Jim said...

Hi Doug -- I am supposing you celebrated too much last night.
So I'll pass on my 0.2 cents worth about seals.

Sine cero (without wax) goes for a handshake (my guess). Shake on it?

L.S. useless lip service to seals. Texas real estate documents often still use these words although our law says "the seal shall have not affect or authority" in the State of Texas.
..

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Doug said...

Minka, there's something of a guideline for the length of a definition but there's a grandfather clause applying to M. Bierce.

Cowry shells, Mireille, to place at the feet of your candidate.

Pia, it's a good year for Ash Wednesday, though.

Mo'a, there's a good seal.

G, Mo'a is cute. Tali is cute. Hopeful voters are adorable.

TLP, you can take care of that with wacks.

Squak, Quilly.

Ariel, just like Rhubarb.

Amoeba, the only bright side to Super Tuesday's results are that the longer the noisome road to the party nominations, the shorter the odious general election.

Saurkraut, that must be an inside joke. Wicked ahbscyoah.

Mutha, twice to the circus?

Jamie Dawn, you are the smartest of pundits and still would be if the competition were better.

Mule, I think you're doing it wrong.

Cooper, blessings be upon him.

Actonbell, that's really funny. I guess that comes from burning your candle at both ends?

Weirsdo, better than using it as a pilates ball, I suppose.

Heady days, indeed, Morgan. I bet that's when Amazon could first offer super-saver shipping.

Jim, I celebrated Democracy from 6 am to almost ten when my precinct shipped the ballots to be counted and the California primary was declared.