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"Liceity", meaning lawfulness or legitimacy, is a word that seems only to be used to describe certain religious actions from the Roman Catholic point of view. The word is not present in any major dictionaries, including the OED, but this one has it for example. What is its pronunciation?

If possible, please give sourced answers, but don't hesitate to speak from experience if you don't know of any sources but do know the answer.

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Presumably it rhymes with simultaneity or deity. With, or maybe with nicety, but that’s different. –  tchrist Mar 19 '13 at 21:46
Since it derives from licentia, I would guess lic- as in licit and -eity as with deity. –  choster Mar 19 '13 at 21:47

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I’m not convinced that it’s a valid word, because the -eity suffix denotes “a noun of quality or condition corresponding to adjectives in -eous suffix” [OED]. Liceous for licit is at best doubtful.

However, in the absence of authoritative data such as the OED might provide, it would be reasonable to assign a pronunciation based on other -eity words. In these (at least in British English) the -e- is stressed, the preceding syllable is unstressed and possibly reduced, and the pronunciation might therefore be presumed to be /liˈseɨti/.

Pronouncing an unusual word in a reasonably standard way may help the hearer to spell it and thereby to understand it: /liˈseɨti/ is likely to be spelled liceity; the lic- part is probably to do with law and the -eity part denotes a “noun of condition” and thus the word may be presumed to mean lawfulness.

Footnote: Documents of the Roman Catholic Church are always published in Latin first and then translated, so it’s entirely possible that a standard Latin word for licitness — such as liceitatem — has been clumsily translated as liceity.

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Google Books reports Latin liceitas, -atem at least as far back as the 16th century, and Italian liceitá since the 17th. The earliest instance of liceity I find is in The Irish Ecclesiastical Record for June 1885. In all uses I have examined the Latin and English terms are employed in contrast with validitas, validity: that is, distinguishing the lawfulness of the performance of a (for example) a sacrament from its effectiveness. –  StoneyB Mar 20 '13 at 0:35
@StoneyB Yes, the OP's link contrasts validity with liceity. It's easy to see how it's derived from validitas/validity, liceitas/liceity. Anyway, the word's validity or lack of it doesn't affect the need to pronounce it. –  St John of the Cross Mar 20 '13 at 0:55
+1 by the way for your presumptive pronunciation –  StoneyB Mar 20 '13 at 0:59
I would guess that the first i would have the one in sit (and the first one in licit), so /lɪˈseɨti/ — but it might be subject to reduction like the second one in licit, since it is unstressed. –  tchrist Mar 20 '13 at 13:26

I would suggest pronouncing it like "liz-ze-ty" or "li-zi-ah-ty" I compared it to nicety, but figured out that it has the -ei- so it might be pronounced one of these two ways.

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