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August 20, 2009

Ob Portu

I just discovered that the word opportunity originated from ob-portu.

In the days before modern harbors, a ship had to wait for the flood tide to make it into port. The Latin term for this was ob portu. The captain and the crew waited for the moment when the tide was exactly right because they knew that if they missed it, they would have to wait for another tide to come in. Shakespeare wrote:

There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat;
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our venture.

Ob portu, Opportunity. Chance. Fortune. Luck. We call it by many names. Unless one has it, the best of plans will fall flat. How important it is to be in the right place at the right time!

Aasim: on your special day, here's wishing that you seize your ob portu all through the year.


Khwaja said...


On the Ob Portu (opportunity, luck...) topic... as they say... "sometimes, its better to be lucky than smart"


Rhoda said...

yes. since you're already smart, i wished you *lucky* as well !

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