I recently spent just under a week in Quito, a city that to me felt very similar to Bogotá. And in Quito I did all the typical things: La Ronda, el TelefériQo, the museums, the parks, and the sinfín of plazas and spectacular churches. In the entrance of la Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús, there was a painting inspired by Dante’s circles of hell, and the various sinners were identified. The names were so fascinating that it would have been a sin not to have jotted them down. But first a few pictures of the church.

La iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús en Quito

La iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús Quito nave central

Murmurador (rumormonger, insinuator, backbiter),
Vana (vain), Adúltera (adulteress), Impenitente (unrepentant)
Cruel (cruel), Bailarín (dancer), Deshonesto (dishonest), Injusto (unjust), Borracho (drunkard), Votador (blasphemer, swearer),
Deliciosa (prostitute, harlot), Registrador (?), Usurero (usurer), Homicida (murderer), Hechicera (sorcerer, witch), Perezoso (slothful), Traidor (traitor), Tahúr (cheater at cards), De duro corazón (hard-hearted), Vengativo (vengeful), Nefando (loathsome, vile, abominable), Ladrón (thief), Sacrílego (sacrilegious, heretic),
Imprudente (imprudent, foolhardy), Impuro (impure)

Hernando de la Cruz Infierno La iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús Quito

Inferno, Hernando de la Cruz

I love old-fashioned and Biblical language for vices. Slothful, vile, rumormonger, harlot–I wish these words had more currency. My favorite word? Deliciosa. Why is it used for a prostitute? There is something in the word itself that sounds decidedly scandalous: delicious, delectable, delito (crime in Spanish). What was the connection? This is what I–a linguistic dilettante–was able to piece together.

We get the words delicia and delicioso from delicere. This verb comes from lacere, which means to deceive, to rope in, to lureand lacere comes from lax, lacis (noose, snare, bait). This in turn comes from the Indo-European root lek (trap).

From the Latin delicere we also get the word delectare (to seduce, please greatly), from which came the Provençal word deleitar. This came from the language of troubadours, those who sung scandalous songs in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, which was smack dab in the middle of the sexual oppression of the Catholic Church.

I also discovered the English word deliciate, a new one for me: to delight one’s self; to indulge in feasting; to revel.

My peregrinations inevitably brought me to delicatessen. I took a break from the arduous life of a linguistic private eye and had a sandwich, and then I went on my way to learn that delicious in Middle English also meant to be characterized by sensual indulgence.

They enroote theimself to delicious life and coruptible condicions.

Also, in addition to tasty, I found a meaning of delicious in Old French that is noble, courtly, courteous. It would be remiss of me to not inform you that I also learned that an anagram of delicious is lousicide (a substance that kills lice, not the murder of lice).

I never found any strict evidence that deliciosa was ever used for prostitutes, so I don’t know if the word was used or if this was a caprice of the painter. (If so, he probably got in big trouble with his wife.) I even had dinner with an Italian guy last night, and I asked him about deliciosa, wondering if in Italian it had any lascivious connotations. No such luck. And, no, it doesn’t seem that there’s any link between delicioso and delito.

Olympia Manet

In Spanish, delicioso is delicious (tastes and smells), as well as delightful. (Which we use in English to talk about, say, a delicious shiver or delicious revenge.) One use of the word that I hear all the time is for talking about the weather.

Está haciendo un clima delicioso, ¿sí o no?

This weather is amazing, isn’t it?

La pasamos delicioso ayer en la obra de teatro.

We had a great time at the play yesterday.

Delicioso also gets shortened to deli, if you fancy that kind of informal thing.

La caminata estuvo deli, ojalá se repita. 

The hike was great–hopefully there are more of them.

Also, delicia to say that something sounds delightful (as well as a delicacy).

¿Vas a estar dos meses en Ámsterdam? Ay, ¡qué delicia!

You’re going to be in Amsterdam for two months? Sweet!

Qué delicia ese tiempo a tu lado anoche, no quería irme.

It felt so good being by your side last night–I didn’t want to leave.

I feel like the words prostitute, whore, and hooker in English are ugly, but deliciosa makes the title sound much lovelier. Luscious, succulent, and scrumptious (which sounds so much like strumpet) also have the right sound and connotations to fit the bill. Courtesan isn’t bad, either. Thoughts?

4 responses to “Deliciosa

  1. I love word studies and I am saving this blog. Thanks!!!!


  2. Pingback: And another blog birthday! | Vocabat

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