Word Nerd Wednesday: Quodlibet

Quodlibet, which basically means “whatever”, is a word I recently learned after a friend handed me a copy of Touchstone Magazine. Touchstone, according to their own description, is a Christian journal, conservative in doctrine and eclectic in content, with editors and readers from each of the three great divisions of Christendom —Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox.

I loved the issue, and am considering subscribing. Touchstone is a publication that many people might find a little hoity-toity, by both the first and second definitions.  I found a few of the pieces a little hoity-toity myself. However, on balance it was worth my time and mental investment. I wondered if, as a classical homeschooler, I should have heard of this word before, but alas, no one has heard of everything.  Better late than never.

Merriam-Webster defines quodlibet this way:

“Whatever.” Try to get philosophical nowadays and that may be the response you hear. We don’t know if someone quibbling over a minor philosophical or theological point 600 years ago might have gotten a similar reaction, but we do know that Latin quodlibet, meaning “any whatever,” was the name given to such academic debates. Quodlibet is a form of quilibet, from qui, meaning “what,” and libet, meaning “it pleases.”

“Whatever it pleases” on the one hand sounds great to me, being a live and let live type of gal in a world where fewer and fewer people seem capable of living and letting others live.  I can see the danger in it as well, being a woman of deep religious faith.

In the section of Touchstone titled quodlibet, you’ll find short editorial pieces written by various editors about “whatever they please” to write about.  And whatever they please is guaranteed to be decidedly politically incorrect but more than that, it may even be interpreted as inflammatory, depending on your perspective Such is the case with this bit by Douglas T. Johnson.

Whether it’s someone I agree with or not, I rather enjoy being free to listen to and interpret the philosophies of those who wish to discuss “whatever”.


I like that.



3 thoughts on “Word Nerd Wednesday: Quodlibet

  1. smkoseki says:

    Spent hrs today trying to make more concise definitions of:touchstone & quodlibet. Thanks for the push. Touchstone mag always reminds me of old people. Like those unaware elite of the French revolution getting put on the cart for the guillotine. Or like that ever-present homily in RC parishes that hits all the technical points while skillfully avoiding any connection to real life. But I do enjoy reading it (all the way to the gibbet as guillotines are out-of-style)…but their podcast #6 was pretty good…


  2. Elspeth says:

    Interesting that you think Touchstone mag sounds like “old people” when I know 20-somethings who largely agree with their perspective.

    It’s just an ordered way of thinking in a world that has discarded order in favor of chaos; one where individual bondage disguised as freedom in place of community and accountability.

    You’re right though about that line of thought being out of touch with today’s reality. which may make it “old”. But it doesn’t make it wrong, does it?


  3. smkoseki says:

    which may make it “old”. But it doesn’t make it wrong, does it?

    Don’t misjudge me here. I don’t find TS wrong, just foolish, like the Lk 14:31 king. And TS thinks there is 10,000 men against 20,000 when in reality it’s down to 1,000 and falling. Rout gonna be ugly. And fully earned. Zero sympathy here, but I live in the real world, not the ivory tower, as much as I enjoy a stay there.


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