SATURDAY, JUNE 26, 2021
[ paw-si-tee ]
smallness of quantity; scarcity; scantiness.
WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF PAUCITY?
Paucity “smallness of quantity; scarcity; scantiness,” comes via Old or Middle French paucité from Latin paucitāt-, the inflectional stem of paucitās “smallness of quantity; scarcity; scantiness,” a derivative of the adjective paucus “few” (because of its intrinsic meaning, paucus is usually used in the plural). Paucus is also the source of Italian poco “a little,” i.e., the musical direction meaning “somewhat, a little,” and of poco a poco “little by little, gradually.” The Proto-Indo-European root underlying the Latin words is pau-, pōu-, pəu-, pu– (with still more variants) “few, a few, little, low,” which also usually is extended by consonant suffixes. Latin pau– with a suffixed –l forms the adjective paulus, paullus “little, small,” the Roman surname Paullus, and the English forename Paul. The variant root pu– with a suffixed –er forms the Latin noun puer “boy, child”; the diminutive of puer is puellus “a young boy,” and puella, the feminine of puellus, therefore means “girl.” The root pau– becomes the Proto-Germanic root faw-; its derived adjective fawaz “few, a little,” becomes fēawa, fēa in Old English, and few in modern English. Paucity entered English in the first half of the 15th century.
HOW IS PAUCITY USED?
Watching American films from the 1970s today, you may be struck by the paucity of music: filmmakers then did not want to depend on the emotional ground base a continuous music track provides—they wanted to focus your attention on their images. JAMES MONACO, HOW TO READ A FILM, 2009
Ambiguous references to what may have been hats of vegetable materials are to be found in the works of almost all ancient writers, but very little that is specific can be discovered. Perhaps one reason for the paucity of information on this subject may be that the homemade hats of plaited straws or rushes were probably worn only by the common people. DAN PIEPENBRING, "STRAW HATS: THEIR HISTORY AND MANUFACTURE," THE PARIS REVIEW, MAY 5, 2015