Web Word Quests Site   

There are two search terms on this page.

laconi-, lacon- (Latin: concise, abrupt; literally, resembling the style of the Lacedaemonians or Spartans).

Pertaining to Laconia; a Laconian or Lacedaemonian; a Spartan.
When capitalized, pertaining to Laconia.

The Greek term for an inhabitant of the ancient region of Laconia, in the southern Peloponese, and of its capital Sparta, was Lakon. The Spartans were renowned for not using two words when one would do. There is a story that when Philip of Macedon threatened an invasion of Sparta, he said: "If I enter Laconia, I will raze Sparta to the ground." The Spartans' only reply was "If".

The Lacadaemonians were all supposed to be so parsimonious with words, and were noted in the ancient world not only for their stoic Spartan lifestyle; but also for their short, brusque, and pithy way of speaking and writing, which was appropriate for their outward lack of emotion.

Not only in Sparta, the capital, but throughout the country youths were taught modesty and conciseness of speech; in fact, they were taught so well that the word laconic comes to us by way of Latin from the Greek Lakonikos, meaning "like a Laconian". So, now a laconic person is generally one who expresses a great deal without wasting words, who is terse, to the point, and usually undemonstrative.

Hendrickson, Robert. Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins.
New York:
Facts On File, Inc., 1997.

laconic, laconicism, laconism:
1. When uncapitalized: concise, abrupt.
2. Following the Laconian manner; especially, in speech and writing; brief, parsimonious. Of persons: affecting a brief style of speech.

Just as the study of the classics has disappeared from so many educational curricula, so has the understanding that some terms; such as, laconic once had.

Laconic came to us via Latin from Greek Lakonikos, and was first recorded in 1583 with the meaning "of or relating to Laconia or its inhabitants".

Lakonikos is derived from Lakon, "a Laconian, a person from Lakedaimon", the name for the region of Greece of which Sparta was the capital.

The Spartans, noted for being warlike and disciplined, were also known for the brevity and conciseness of their speech, and it is this quality that English writers denote by the use of the adjective laconic, which is believed to be used first in this sense in 1589.

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language.
Houghton Mifflin Company, 1992.

The sweating-room in the bath, so called from having been first used by the Spartans.
1. A laconic (brief) way of expression.
2. The habit or practice of imitating the Lacedemonian manners; especially, in brevity of speech.
To imitate the Lacedaemonians (in dress, manners, etc.).