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Currently I am reading a book titled Configurations of culture growth by the American anthropologist Alfred Louis Kroeber. Part of his book consists of tables that list eminent people from all fields of human activity (science, literature, drama, painting, sculpture, ...).

Next to some of the names are abbreviations like "b." (born), "d." (died), "r." (reigned) and "ca." (circa).

But there are two abbreviations whose meanings are unknown to me, namely "fl." and "seq.". Do you know what they mean?

Here is an excerpt from Google Books:

Page 464 of Configurations of Culture Growth. Relevant excerpt: "...Princess Si-Kiün, fl. ca. 100... Yang Ti, Sui emperor, r. 605 seq."

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I've never encountered shortcut in this sense before, and was puzzled from the title as to what the question might be about. – Colin Fine Jul 19 '14 at 9:16
@ColinFine - You are right. The OP really means abbreviation. I have edited the question to fix both that and some other items which require attention. – Erik Kowal Jul 19 '14 at 9:23
In my mother language "shortcut" and "abbreviation" are the same words. Thanks for pointing to correct phrase. – truthseeker Jul 19 '14 at 9:27
@ErikKowal Would the title not better be 'Latin abbreviations,' maybe? – Kris Jul 19 '14 at 10:54
up vote 7 down vote accepted

Unfortunately, the page you linked to is inaccessible to me. However, I believe I can still answer your question. Fl. is the abbreviation of flourished (or the Latin equivalent, floruit).

The reference is to the active years of the person next to whose name the abbreviation appears. For example, if you open a history book, and next to the reproduction of a painted portrait on one of its pages you see a caption that reads

Joe Blow (fl. ca. 1538-1585)

it means that the portrait is of Joe Blow, who is believed to have been actively engaged in the occupation he is famous for between approximately 1538 and 1585.


The poster has included a screenshot of the relevant page, and has also added a question about the meaning of seq.

Seq. is an abbreviation of the Latin sequens, meaning approximately 'the following one'. It occurs next to the name of the emperor Yang Ti:

Yang Ti, Sui emperor, r. 605 seq.

In combination with the r. signifying 'reigned', it means that the emperor Yang Ti reigned from the year 605 onwards, but it has not been possible to specify the last year of his reign (presumably because there is no clear record available to indicate when it ended).

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It is usually used when no more precise dates are known. – Colin Fine Jul 19 '14 at 9:15
I edited my original post and added screenshot from book. I also edited my question and added another shortcut "seq." used in group of words like "Yang Ti, Sui emperor, r. 605 seq." – truthseeker Jul 19 '14 at 9:24
Always try to cite the sources. – Kris Jul 19 '14 at 10:47
As a rule of thumb, fl. traditionally signifies the date at which the person was about forty years of age. – Brian Donovan Jul 19 '14 at 15:28
@BrianDonovan, can you provide some kind of citation for this, or at least an example? It seems implausible when you think of someone like Mozart, who only lived for 35 years. – Henry74 Jul 19 '14 at 19:59

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