"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

Saturday, 20 July 2013


Pronounced (I think) sis-er-oh-knee, a cicerone is a guide who gives information about antiquities and places of interest to sightseers.  The word is derived from the Italian for antiquarian scholar, guide, after Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC), Roman consul, orator, and writer, alluding to the eloquence and erudition of these guides.

(If you want to learn more about Cicero I thoroughly recommend Robert Harris’ ‘Imperium’ (2006), a life of Cicero.  The book is fiction but is brilliantly researched and gives a real flavour of what the great man must have been like.)

Thanks, Monica, for bringing this word to mind.


  1. The usual term around here is docent, but i like this better.

    1. Well, that's another new word to me. And, I expect to some of my readers.
      Docent - A person who acts as a guide, typically on a voluntary basis, in a museum, art gallery, or zoo; a teacher or lecturer at some universities who is not a regular faculty member.
      Thanks very much Messymimi.

  2. The proper Italian pronunciation has something similar to a "ch" as in "chirp", not an "s", for the two Cs, and the last e does not sound like the two Es in "knee", but again like the first e in the middle of the word.