Word Origin & History
"action or habit of estimating as worthless," 1741, a combination of four Latin words (flocci, nauci, nihili, pilifi) all signifying "at a small price" or "for nothing," which were listed together in a rule of the well-known Eton Latin Grammar. The kind of jocular formation that was possible among educated
men in Britain in those days. Just so, as in praesenti, the opening words of mnemonic lines on conjugation in Lilley's 16c. Latin grammar, could stand alone as late as 19c. and be understood to mean "rudiments of Latin."