from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In classical antiquity: A handkerchief.
  • n. A handkerchief or scarf used in waving applause in the circus.
  • n. A stole: replaced in the Western Church by the name stola about the ninth century. See orarion and stole.
  • n. A scarf affixed to the crozier, in use as early as the thirteenth century.
  • n. A Latin book of private prayer, especially that issued in England under Henry VIII. in 1546, or the one published under Elizabeth in 1560.


Sorry, no etymologies found.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • When I saw that orarium was the Word of the Day I leapt to the conclusion that it meant a place of prayer and beavered away at a limerick on that theme. The effort was good discipline but produced verse celebrating a word that is not but ought to be.

    I was surprised to learn that it could mean the hankies some people will wave at festive events as a kind of silent applause. I see this most often these days in the behavior of the more primitive fans of American football:

    The folk in that steel making area,

    Inarticulate with football hysteria,

    Will emit feral howls

    And wave "terrible towels,"

    Too simple to call them oraria.

    It seems the most frequent use of the term is to name a variant of the stole that is part of liturgical vestments:

    If you expect a priest to marry 'em

    He must spend his small honorarium.

    It's costly to dress:

    To properly bless

    His union suit needs an orarium.

    April 9, 2014