Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Bullstrode's Latin Phrase Book: Ab Ovo

Ab ovo usque ad mala: Literally means from the egg to the apples.

This phrase gained prominence after its usage in Horace’s Satire 1.3 and has come to mean "from beginning to end". Apparently this meaning derives from diet of Ancient Rome, where the main meal of the day began with an egg dish (Florentine or Benedict one would hope) and would end with some fruit. In legal phraseology, ab ovo has to connote thoroughness – i.e. to read a document from beginning to end.

As you will know from the section in On Lawmanship 3rd Edition on proper legal drafting, as a firm believer in “top and tailing”, I rarely, if ever, read a document from beginning to end. Life’s too short. When I say to clients I will review their documents “ab ovo”, I quite literally mean I will have a summer clerk review the document (lightly) while I recline nearby eating an egg followed by a red delicious, usually while wearing a toga.

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