Omnium-gatherum is a grand term for a miscellaneous collection.
The van der Laen marriage portrait is something else again, on one level an omnium gatherum of all the stock marital pieties that could have been pulled straight from a domestic morality manual such as Jacob Cats’s Houwelyck.
Guardian, 23 Jun. 2007. The hyphen is often left out.
One of my reference books disparagingly calls it Dog Latin and it’s a fair description. The first part is genuine enough, being the genitive plural of omnis, all (omnibus, for what we prefer nowadays to call a bus, is the dative plural of the same word). The second part, however, is just the English word gather with a fake Latin ending. The 1788 second edition of Francis Grose’s Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue says it’s a “jocular imitation of law Latin” and this seems plausible.
There’s an older form, omnigatherum, mainly Scots, which the OED says was used from the seventeenth century for a group of craftsmen in Stirling, such as coopers, glassworkers, dyers, and gardeners, whose skills weren’t recognised in a formal trade guild but who were lumped together for some purposes, mostly taxation.
Omnium-gatherum has been known since the sixteenth century. In view of its bastard form, it’s odd that the first recorded user should have been the highly educated Greek scholar Richard Croke, in a letter to Thomas Cranmer in 1530.
Search World Wide Words
Recently added or updated
Satisficer; Beside oneself; Words of the Year 2015; Peradventure; Sconce; Orchidelirium; How’s your father; Goon; Emoji; Thank your mother for the rabbits; Nonplussed; Bob’s-a-dying; Methinks; Bill of goods; Binge-watching; Codswallop; That’s all she wrote; Great Scott; Gone for a Burton; Pull the plug; Bob’s your uncle; Gibberish; You snowing me?; Chi-ike; Salop
Support World Wide Words!
Donate via PayPal. Select your currency from the list and click Donate.
Buy from Amazon and get me a small commission at no cost to you. Select your preferred site and click Go!