Legal Dictionary


Legal Definition of viz.


Definition of viz.


    From Latin videlicet (“that is to say, namely”), short for videre licet (“it is permitted to see ”). The ‘z' was originally not a letter but a common Middle Latin scribal abbreviation that was used for -et, specifically a Tironian note. The symbol resembled ‘z', or rather 3 and Ȝ, and hence is thus represented in type.


Usually read out as namely or to wit. Otherwise pronounced as follows:

  • IPA: /vɪz/


viz. (not comparable)

  1. namely, that is to say, as follows, specifically, as an illustration.

    * 1848, The fact is, when Captain Dobbin blushed so, and looked so, it was necessary to inform the young ladies, viz., that he had been calling at Mr. Sedley's house already, . . . . (Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray)

    * 1993, This, however, makes it necessary to distinguish between two different types of gaps, viz. between “singular NP gaps” and “plural NP gaps.” (Hans Kamp and Uwe Reyle, From Discourse to Logic: Introduction to Modeltheoretic Semantics of Natural Language, Formal Logic and Discourse Representation Theory, p. 51.)

Usage notes

  • Often used to introduce a list or series.

Further reading

Viz. (also rendered viz without a period) and the adverb videlicet are used as synonyms for "namely", "that is to say", and "as follows".


Viz. is the medieval scribal abbreviation for videlicet; it specifically uses a Tironian abbreviation. It comprises the letters v and i followed by ⁊, the common medieval Latin contraction for et and -et. It has been included in Unicode since version 5.1. The glyph ⁊ for "and" is the only other Tironian abbreviation remaining in use.

Videlicet is a contraction of Classical Latin vid"re licet, which meant "it may be seen, evidently, clearly" (vid"re, to see; licet, third person singular present tense of lic"re, to be permitted). In Latin, videlicet was used to confirm a previous sentence or to state its contrary.


Viz. is an abbreviation of videlicet, which itself is a contraction from Latin of "videre licet" meaning "it is permitted to see." Both forms introduce a specification or description of something stated earlier; this is often a list preceded by a colon (:). Although both forms survive in English, viz. is far more common than videlicet.

In contradistinction to i.e. and e.g., viz. is used to indicate a detailed description of something stated before, and when it precedes a list of group members, it implies (near) completeness.

  • Viz. is usually read aloud as "that is", "namely", or "to wit",[5] but is sometimes pronounced as it is spelt. /ˈvɪz/.
  • Videlicet is pronounced /vɪˈdɛlɨsɛt/ or /wɪˈdeɪlɨkɛt/.

A similar expression is scilicet, abbreviated as sc., which is Latin for "it is permitted to know". Sc. provides a parenthetic clarification, removes an ambiguity, or supplies a word omitted in preceding text, while viz. is usually used to elaborate or detail text which precedes it. In legal usage, scilicet appears abbreviated as ss. or, in a caption, as §, where it provides a statement of venue and is read as "to wit". Scilicet can be read as "namely," "to wit," or "that is to say," or pronounced /ˈsɪlɨsɛt/ or /ˈskiːlɨkɛt/.


  • The main point of his speech, viz. that our attitude was in fact harmful, was not understood.
  • "My grandfather had four sons that grew up, viz.: Thomas, John, Benjamin and Josiah."
  • The noble gases, viz., helium, neon, argon, xenon, krypton, and radon, show a non-expected behaviour when exposed to this new element.


  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.


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