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How's this for a clever knock-off?

When I read the sign beneath the large store name, VERACIOUS, I immediately thought of Versace:

Yìdàlì guójì fúshì
Italian international clothing and personal adornment

And when I looked at their logo, I knew for certain that they were nakedly aping Versace:

But the store's name may work best for customers who don't know English very well. When I see VERACIOUS, I cannot help thinking of VORACIOUS — even though there's a genuine English word veracious, which ironically means "Habitually speaking or disposed to speak the truth; observant of the truth; truthful".

The OED cites Shelley's translation of Homer's Hymn to Mercury:  "I am a most veracious person, and Totally unacquainted with untruth". This, again ironically, is from the beginning of Hermes' attempt to plead before Zeus his innocence of various thefts and other crimes, of which he is in fact guilty.

Perhaps in due time, we'll see another Chinese knock-off luxury-goods chain named Hermetic. Hermesian would work better as trademark encroachment, but wouldn't be as good a joke, since the OED glosses it as "Pertaining to Georg Hermes (1775-1831), a Roman Catholic priest, and professor of theology at Bonn, who propounded doctrines on the relation of reason to faith, which were afterwards condemned by the Pope."

A larger picture of the storefront:

[Thanks again to Ian Mair in Hangzhou]


  1. Sili said,

    May 12, 2010 @ 9:39 am

    I thought "voracious", too, but correctly interpreted "veracious" to have to do with truth, though I was guessing at it being a clever blend/portmanteau.

    I had no idea how Versace looked before seeing this post, though. I know the name, but don't think I've ever seen the logo. But I'm not likely to be the target audience, I guess.

  2. Ed Cormany said,

    May 12, 2010 @ 9:57 am

    this same confusion led to the wonderfully named "Unverified Voracity" feature on the Michigan sports site MGoBlog:

    "Voracity is a weird word to come after "unverified," especially when dealing with a sports blog and not, say, a blog about rumored hunger. The deal: back when the sporadic link-filled posts were untitled, some Iowa sportswriter penned what was to the the first in a long line of intemperate columns ragging on blogs for having the audacity to not be written by sportswriters. Unfortunately for that sportswriter, she inserted the following sentence:

    In the new "journalism of assertion," as the report calls it, information is offered with little time and little attempt to independently verify its voracity. [sic]

    Sarcasm being what it is, UV was born shortly after."

  3. fs said,

    May 12, 2010 @ 10:07 am

    …? "Veracious" is not a particularly rare or unknown word, I should think. It is the etymological sibling of the certainly common word "veracity", after all. "Voracious" didn't even enter my mind until you mentioned it in the article, really. Maybe the store's name works best for customers who know English all too well. In fact, it occurs to me that the brand name might even have been an intentional ironic conceit…

    [(myl) Veracious is pretty rare, actually — it doesn't occur in the 100-million-word British National Corpus; and its 8 hits in the 400-million-word COCA are mainly in academic works:

    Of these 8 uses, 3 (including all the "spoken" and "magazine" examples) are typos for "voracious":

    …they take to the ice with a veracious appetite for seal…
    …one of the most veracious insects in on the planet, the Formosan Termite…
    …two decades of veracious wars and crippling sanctions…

    Veracious has been used just 7 times in the New York Times since 1981, for an average of less than one use every four years.

    It occurs just once in the 25 million words of conversational transcripts indexed at LDC Online — and that one example is a typo for voracious:

    "… i ride the train okay and i'm a i'm a veracious i'm i'm i read constantly …"

    In contrast, voracious has been used 2,324 times in the NYT since 1981, 545 times in COCA, 79 times in the BNC, and 7 times in the LDC conversational corpus. So for most English speakers and readers, we can expect voracious to be much more highly activated than veracious. Having the store's logo be a sort of lion-looking face (compared to the standard Versace Medusa) will help prime that word as well.]

  4. peter said,

    May 12, 2010 @ 10:09 am

    One recalls that old Roman expression:

    Veni. Vidi. Versace.

    which translates as:

    I came. I saw. I looked fabulous.

  5. fs said,

    May 12, 2010 @ 10:33 am

    myl: Thanks for that. I guess I'm just odd, then, haha. I can still imagine whoever came up with this brand name being intentional about it, though – with the help of a dictionary, perhaps…

  6. Jonathan Lundell said,

    May 12, 2010 @ 10:35 am

    After reading the first graf, I was hoping against hope (odd expression) that 'veracious' was in fact an English word that meant what it seemed to mean. And so it is. Thanks.

  7. John Cowan said,

    May 12, 2010 @ 11:52 am

    "Hermitian" and "hermetic" would be plausible alternatives.

  8. Michael W said,

    May 12, 2010 @ 12:30 pm

    Without knowing what the rest of the sign meant or what they were selling, I thought for a moment it might have been a Starbucks imitation.

    Anyone else bothered by that 'A'?

  9. anon said,

    May 12, 2010 @ 12:49 pm

    Long, long ago, someone on alt.folklore.urban confused "veracity" with "voracity"; the error became a long-standing inside joke on a.f.u. and predates the blogs by a decade or so.

  10. Karen said,

    May 12, 2010 @ 2:25 pm

    @ Michael – somebody decided to line up the white parts of the letters. I'm with you, it looks a bit off, but probably it would look as off if the white part of the A were significantly lower than the others…

  11. Theodore said,

    May 12, 2010 @ 2:52 pm

    Funny, I just finished reading Lewis Hyde's translation of the Homeric Hymn to Hermes. Alas, no "veracious" there.

    When I hear "hermetic" I think of an airtight seal. Not that it couldn't be used on a Hermès knockoff…

  12. Victor Mair said,

    May 12, 2010 @ 3:56 pm

    "Audacious" and "bodacious" also keep coming to mind.

  13. theophylact said,

    May 12, 2010 @ 4:26 pm

    To me, though, "Hermitian" suggests only a square matrix with entries symmetrical about the diagonal with respect to their complex conjugates

    But that's just me.

  14. theophylact said,

    May 12, 2010 @ 4:29 pm

    But perhaps "Veracious" is the complex conjugate of "Versace"… .

  15. Army1987 said,

    May 12, 2010 @ 6:08 pm

    No, theophylact, that the only thing it suggests to me, too.

  16. Lance said,

    May 12, 2010 @ 6:33 pm

    It's sort of a weird combination of "Versace" and "Voracious"–kind of a malamanteau, really.

  17. ian said,

    May 12, 2010 @ 9:25 pm

    i immediately recognized it as a brazen demonstration of the chinese knockoff industry, and the voracious manner in which they behave.

  18. Stuart said,

    May 12, 2010 @ 9:27 pm

    When I saw the top picture, "voracious" never came to my mind at all and I just assumed that "veracious" was deliberate and that the company they were trying to 'ripoff' was Vero, the insurance broker. I had no idea that "veracious" was such an uncommon word.

  19. Scriptor Ignotior said,

    May 12, 2010 @ 11:14 pm

    … hermitic …


  20. Garrett Wollman said,

    May 12, 2010 @ 11:32 pm

    @Michael W: I have certainly seen fonts where the apex of capital "A" rises above the level of the other capitals, but unfortunately this photo doesn't provide enough letters for Identifont to figure out the typeface used here.

  21. richard said,

    May 13, 2010 @ 2:29 am

    @Garrett, "unfortunately this photo doesn't provide enough letters for Identifont to figure out the typeface used here" .. both Versace and the signage are very similar to Optima, in which case the flat-top A on Versace is normal for the font in its bold weight (although the closed-in C is not) .. maybe the pointy A on the sign is just a special tweak.

  22. Tracy said,

    May 14, 2010 @ 2:34 am

    Like some of the commenters above, I had no idea "veracious" was an uncommon word. I wonder how people usually do at estimating how common words are, and what affects that. My intuition is that my own usage has very little to do with whether I think a word is common.

    Poking at Google, it looks like the most common uses it finds are proper names — lots of businesses and album titles. If people learn a word because it is part of a name (which is probably where I first saw it, too), their sense of its frequency could get very skewed. For instance, far more people probably know what a "googol" is than have reasons to actually use the word.

  23. A Chinese said,

    May 14, 2010 @ 10:06 am

    'Homer's Hymn to Mercury' is a bit problematic — it's clearly not by Homer. Maybe 'The Homeric Hymn to Mercury' is better. And if you read translation, you need to read that particular translation to see the exact word.

  24. Rick S said,

    June 21, 2010 @ 1:03 pm

    "Veracious" is actually a very apt, albeit pretentious, choice for a fashion retailer, provided they have read Keats.

  25. lareina said,

    June 23, 2010 @ 10:34 pm

    i had the same experience the other day. in Shanghai they have this road called 'Cheap Road' where ppl sell replica of designer bags, and I saw a Louis Vuitton handbag with all the monogram and everything, except instead of "Louis Vuitton Paris" it said "Luyi Weideng"….
    in a word… I was 'thundersome' (shocked =雷)。。。

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