Sometimes we learn something new while reading a novel. For example, reading the latest thriller by Dan Brown, I came across the Latin word mendacium.

Mendacium from Inferno

In the novel Inferno, The Mendacium is a name given to a 237-foot luxury yacht with a grey-colored hull. The ship’s price tag is over 300 million U.S. dollars and it has spa, pool, cinema, personal submarine and a helicopter pad. It is also a sophisticated command center for a private organization that offers services to its elite clientele, a list which includes the occasional ultra-wealthy VIP, politicians, Sheikhs, major corporations and even entire governments. The organization on board The Mendacium is involved in large-scale deception. They sell lies. Clients pay millions of dollars for their services. This organization has mastered the art of creating illusions, such as fake business conventions, fake doctor’s appointment, fake weddings, etc. So for example, when a client wants to ‘disappear’, the organization will cater to the client’s needs, with new identity, safe new hideout and whatever that is stated in the agreement. This organization do not ask many questions, its protocol is to keep its promises to the client, no matter what, and never lie to their clients.

According to the writer, this private organization exists for a fact. The names in the novel, as he put it, “has been changed for considerations of security and privacy”. Oh, I have no doubt such entity exists in the real world. Sometimes, mendacium exist in smaller scales without the assistance of sophisticated organization. I’m sure many of us have been deceived before, or even being the deceiver. However, not all deception is evil. Camouflage, for example, is a form of visual deception which is an essential part of military deception.

Wiktionary describes the word mendacium as


From mendāx (lying, untruthful).


mendācium (genitive mendāciī); n, second declension

  1. A lie, untruth, falsehood, fiction.
  2. An illusion, counterfeit.

The five primary forms of deception are listed below. (source: Wikipedia)

  1. Lies: making up information or giving information that is the opposite or very different from the truth.
  2. Equivocations: making an indirect, ambiguous, or contradictory statement.
  3. Concealments: omitting information that is important or relevant to the given context, or engaging in behavior that helps hide relevant information.
  4. Exaggerations: overstatement or stretching the truth to a degree.
  5. Understatements: minimization or downplaying aspects of the truth.

Conclusion, the name given to that yacht in the novel is more than appropriate and relevant, more than ever, a clever choice.

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