March 17, 2007


factotum (fak-to'-tum) n. An employee or assistant who serves in a wide range of capacities.
• [Ety: Medieval Latin factotum: Latin fac, imperative of facere, to do: + to Latin totum, everything]The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 2000.


IN USE "That the trial was so fruitful and revelatory was quite a surprise. It looked like all the big enchiladas had gotten away with the outing of C. I. A. agent Valerie Plame, the wife of former ambassador Joe Williams, who, after being sent on a fact-finding mission to Niger, climbed on a soapbox and announce that a central element of the case for war was fraudulent. In the end, all the prosecutor had gotten--and only for the Martha Stewart breach of legal etiquette of trying not to get caught for a crime that seems not to have been committed--was the vice president's factotum. Only Scooter."—Wolff, Michael, "Caught in the Spin Cycle," Vanity Fair, April 2007, 138.


Factotum moved
easily from being the idea "to do everything" in Latin into "a person who is able do everything" in English—a verbal "embodiment" of sorts.


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