Coupon Accepted Successfully!


Paragraph 1


Greek ergon work

‘Work’ itself is a cousin of ergon (just put a ‘w’ before ergon and you can see the similarity). One of the units of work that we learnt at school was ‘erg’. Did you ever notice then that the word ‘energy’ too carries an ‘erg’ within it? Energy is formed from en-, meaning ‘in’, and ergon, and therefore means ‘the state of doing work’. From ‘doing work’ to ‘the ability to do work’ was just a small extension of meaning.


The Sanskrit word for energy is urja. Obviously, it too is a cousin of ergon.

 is also found in ‘allergy’. It is formed from allos, other, and ergon. The word is used to denote ‘the other’, the out of the ordinary, effect that normally harmless things—like dust or pollen or nuts—work on some people.

The male name ‘George’ means ‘the one who works the earth’, hence a farmer. It is formed from the  Greek ge, earth, plus ergon.

In 1894, Baron Rayleigh and Sir William Ramsay discovered a gas that seemed to do no work, that is, it showed no chemical activity. So, they named it ‘Argon’, from a-, without, + ergon.

The other words from this root are:

Ergon-1: Ergonomics, metallurgy, synergy

Ergon-2: urge, liturgy, orgy

Latin labour work

Apart from ‘labour’ and ‘labourers’, the other words from this root are: labouriouselaboratecollaborate and belabour.


Latin opus work

Due to its large scale and grandeur, many people said that the movie Devdas was the magnum opus of Sanjay Leela Bhansali. ‘Magnum opus’ means ‘a creator’s greatest work’. There is another phrase- ‘Opus Magnum’- which simply means ‘a great work.’


To ‘operate’ something simply means to work it, and to ‘cooperate’ is to work together.

The other words from this root are:

Opus-1: Opera, operose, opulent

Opus-2: copious, cornucopia, optimum, optimism

Opus-3: oeuvre, manoeuver, inure


Latin fungi to perform

The root fungi means ‘to perform or execute something.’ The most common word from this root is ‘function’. The other words from fungi are: defunct, dysfunctional and perfunctory.



Latin facere to make

The one who makes is called a factor in Latin. The place where ‘factors’ (makers) of goods assemble is called a ‘factory’.

2 and 3 are the ‘factors’ of 6. This means, that 2 and 3 are the numbers which upon multiplication make 6.


When we say that its great music was only one of the ‘factors’ in the success of Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, we mean that it was only one of the makers of the movie’s success; there were other factors too.

Sayontan’s idleness was the greatest factor in his mother’s decision to send him—her only child and hope—to America. He flatly refused and, when she tried to convince him, exploded.

“Oh ma!” he shouted angrily, “Will you please be quiet? Oh, why did that Arjun have to come at all? I know what you are thinking right now; that if Arjun had been your son, he would not have shouted at you like that; aren’t you? Well, for the record my dear mother, I am sorry to say but I am not that factitiously polite Arjun. I cannot affect politeness when I am angry, just in order to impress somebody. Sorry I cannot. I cannot flash the superficial smiles that guy flashes all the time. ‘Oh dear masi,’ ‘My dear masi,’ ‘May I, masi?’ ‘For you, masi.’ Hah! He sure knows how to impress his masi. I bet he would do cartwheels of joy when he sees his masi trying to make her son to be like her pluperfect nephew.

Beguiling masi was facile! He would gloat. But I am not his masi and I am not charmed. I do not trust that guy. Yes, I do not; do not look at me like that.


You are thinking that I am jealous, aren’t you? Ma, it’s not jealousy but suspicion. Remember Aladdin? Our little story is getting to be uncomfortably similar to his. Only that he was poor and we are rich and that complicates matters further. Tell me, why had Aladdin’s uncle showed such solicitude for him and proposed to help him? His mother had thought the reason was avuncular love, but tell me, what was it actually? The magician needed someone to go into the magic cave and by doing a little show of love to Aladdin, he got him easily. Once his purpose was served, he simply left Aladdin to languish in the cave. Now tell me, is your Arjun not just as officious as Aladdin’s uncle? Why is he so eager to help us? We never asked him to! He comes out of nowhere, bearing sumptuous gifts and tears in eyes. Then, almost immediately he starts offering to send me to America and you go gaga over how caring your just rediscovered nephew is! If America is as cool and beatific as he says, then why did he himself leave it and come to the sudorific heat out here? He or his mother did not even talk to us all these years. His mother still hasn’t talked to us. Why is he suddenly being so munificent? I am sure that this suddenly-discovered love for masi and her-son is an artifice to make me go, so that you are left alone here—a rich, old woman, totally dependent on him. Now, isn’t that a nice situation to be in? But I am not going to let his plans fructify. I will not go. Try tears, try fiat. I will not go.”

Years ago, Arjun’s mother and his masi had wrangled over their father’s property. There had been much bitterness; the matter had gone to court and each sister had vowed to die before looking at the other again. Arjun, who was only 12 then, had been much saddened by that breach; he had loved his masi very much. A few years later, Arjun’s family had migrated to America and he had never heard of masi again.

When business prospects brought him back to Delhi for a year, the first thing he did was to visit masi and try to mend the broken bonds. His masi too took him in her arms. They observed one another; she was delighted, and he dismayed, by the changes they saw. His dear masi was now a widow and Sayontan had turned out to be a feckless fellow who did nothing but live off his inheritance. Masi was much worried about Sayontan, he noticed. So, he offered to use his contacts to help Sayontan set up a business in America. Nobody can survive in America without working hard, he told his masi. Thatrekindled her hopes of seeing her son become serious about life and it was in that hopeful state that she had broached the topic with her son.

Sayontan did not know it but his unseemly outburst had been too loud. Arjun, who had just entered the house, had heard the whole harangue. That his cousin should vilify him like that was difficult to digest for the proud Arjun. He felt too humiliated, too angry to stay there one minute longer. He packed his bags and giving his surprised masi some quick excuse, left. How easily he used to tell his mother to forget the past and start talking to masi again! It was only now that he understood how disaffecting hurtful words could be; he could well imagine that Sayontan’s words would continue to rankle him even after years. He would not be able to talk nicely to Sayontan again, he knew; and so (his eyes filled up at the thought) with the only peacemaker too having given up, the rancour between the two families would fester forever. He had failed!

But he had not. Arjun’s efforts did not prove ineffectual. Soon after he went, his masi called his mother and complimented her on her fine son. Awkwardly at first, the sisters started talking. Both felt as if a huge burden had lifted off their hearts. The same day, Sayontan called Arjun, and with much discomfiture, apologized. Arjun was surprised at how easily he forgave his ‘little brother.’ The pair of sisters and the pair of brothers forgave and forgot. The phone calls ended with four beaming faces on two continents.

The other words from facere are:

Fac-fic-fec-feas-fy-1: feasible, factotum, faculty

Fac-fic-fec-feas-fy-2: faction, factious, artifact

Fac-fic-fec-feas-fy-3: efficacy, putrefaction, stupefy

Fac-fic-fec-feas-fy-4: refectory, surfeit

Fac-fic-fec-feas-fy 5: defection, edifice, edification, rarefy

Fac-fic-fec-feas-fy-6: ramify, ramification, amplify, qualify

After something has been made, its final form or appearance is denoted by the Latin word facies. The English word face comes from this root, as do surface, facet, fa|ade, efface and deface.

Latin fingere to shape

The fingers on our hand are not named after this Latin word. But they will make a good mnemonic to remember the meaning of this root, because we shape things with our fingers.


The words derived from this root are:

Fingere-1: feign, unfeigned, feint

Fingere-2: fictitious, figment, effigy

The final form that results from the shaping up process is called figura in Latin (say fingere with your nose tightly closed).

The women who are worried about their ‘figure’ are worried about their shape; they want to stay in shape always. The following words too are about forms:


Figurine, figurative, transfigure, disfigure


Latin aptus fitted

An ‘apt’ reply is that which fits well with the question. An ‘aptitude’ test checks whether you fit in a particular type of work or not. When an organism does not initially fit into in an environment, but slowly makes itself well-fitted, he is said to have adapted.


The other words from aptus are: adept and inept.


Ergonomics: (n) the applied science which deals with designing the work equipment and the workplace in such a manner that the workers’ productivity is maximized and his fatigue, minimized.

Origin: Gk ergon, work + nemein, to manage

  • In the 19th century, Frederick Taylor found that reducing the size and weight of coal shovels increased the amount of coal which the workers could shovel per unit time. He then worked out the size and the weight of coal shovels which gave the highest shoveling rate.
    Design of such shovels is an example of ergonomics.
  • Ergonomic chairs are very useful for people who work long hours in a sitting position. These chairs give proper support to the spine and help prevent backache.

Metallurgy: (n) science that deals with separation of metals from their ores and with creating useful objects from metals.

Origin: Gk metallon, metal + ergon, work => ‘metal-work’


Synergy: (n) cooperative action of two forces or things such that the combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects

Origin: Gk syn-, together + ergon, to work

  • “Our clothes offer a synergy of value and style,” the designer claimed.
  • The synergy of the tabla, the sitar and the singer’s wonderful voice enchanted the audience.
  • The synergy of the group was inspiring. Together, the group members came up with ideas that none of them could have thought of individually.

Urge: (v) to push or drive towards something.

Origin: Gk ergon, work -> L urgere, to push, drive

  • He was urged by his poverty to leave his studies and take up the first job that he could find.
  • He urged his friend to take better care of herself.
  • His hunger urged him to steal.

Liturgy: (n) public worship.

Origin: Gk laos, people + ergon, work

  • The music related to any religion can be divided into two categories—liturgical and non-liturgical. If we take Islam as an example, then liturgical music would include Arabic verses chanted or performed in assemblies or on Muslim festivals. Non-liturgical music, in this case, would be the local songs about the Prophet or some Muslim heroes or landmark historic events. The qawwali is an example of Muslim non-liturgical music in India. It is associated with the Chishti movement of the Sufis in the thirteenth century.

Another word from the root laos is laity.

Laity: (n) the common people; the ordinary followers of a religion, as opposed to the clergy—the priests—of that religion.


Orgy: (n) a wild, drunken, unrestrained party; any wild, unrestrained activity.

Origin: Gk ergon, work

  • orgy of shopping, orgy of eating, orgy of violence
  • The police caught three women having an orgy with nine men.

Laborious: (adj) requiring lot of work, requiring extreme attention to detail, showing excessive work and lack of natural spontaneity.

Origin: L labor, labour

  • Writing a book is a labourious task. It requires labourious research.
  • A labourious poem is that which is very heavy on the mind and does not seem at all natural.

Elaborate: (v) to work out in details; to add details to.

Origin: L ex-, out + labour, to work => ‘to work out’

  • “I don’t talk to people like you,” Shreya tossed her head and turned away from Sumit. “Wait a minute,” Sumit said, turning her around to face him. “Will you please elaborate what you meant by ‘people like me’?”

Collaborate: (v) to work together.

Origin: L com-, together + labour, to work

  • The Indian Home Minister told his Pakistani counterpart that peaceful collaboration will give Pakistan great benefits by throwing open the vast and rapidly growing Indian market.
  • Gulzar and Jagjit Singh collaborated to produce a music album.

Belabour: (v) to beat; to work at or talk about something to a frustrating excess.

Origin: L be- + labour

  • In the old days, husbands used to belabour their wives with sticks at the slightest indiscipline.
  • He belaboured his regret till one of his frustrated friends said, “It’s all right, Sangeet. We’ve understood how sorry you are.”

Grandeur: (n) state of being grand or magnificent

Origin: L grandis, great

  • Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas is worth-watching for the grandeur of its sets. Another movie famous for its grandeur is Mughal-e-Azam.
  • The grandeur of the snow-covered mountains all around him dazzled him. He felt like a small, insignificant dot in that vast landscape.

Opera: (n) a musical drama which tells its story through songs.

Origin: L opus, a work


Operose: (adj) requiring a lot of work; hard-working.

Origin: L opus, work

  • A calculator can perform operose calculations in microseconds.

Opulent: (adj) very rich.

Origin: L opus, work -> ops, wealth -> opulentus. The etymology of the word opulent is a proof that wealth stems from hard work.

  • The film director Sanjay Leela Bhansali built opulent sets to shoot his movie Devdas.

Copious: (adj) large in quantity, abundant.

Origin: L co-, with + ops, wealth => ‘with wealth’ => ‘with abundant resources’

  • The widow earned everybody’s sympathy by shedding copious tears over her husband’s dead body. Even the police officers started doubting their belief that she had killed him.
  • Bengaluru is blessed with copious rainfall.
  • The teacher told the students that she did not want them to make copious notes of her lectures and that she would be happier if they focused on understanding what she taught.
    The word ‘copy’ is derived from ‘copious.’ To copy means ‘to make copious’ by making many imitations of the work.

Cornucopia: (n) a mythological horn of a goat which became filled with whatever foods or drinks its owner wished; an overflowing source.

Origin: L cornu, horn + copiae, copious => ‘a horn that gives copious supply of something’

  • What child has ever lived who did not believe that his grandpa’s pocket was a cornucopia for all his desires, that whatever he wished would not come out of that pocket?
  • Many people see Mumbai as a cornucopia, a city that satisfies every wish.

Optimum: (adj) the best or the most favourable conditions (for growth, etc.).

Origin: L ops, wealth -> optimus, wealthiest -> optimus, best

  • 37 degree Celsius is the optimum temperature for the growth of the bacteria Escherichia coli.
  • Allocating too few resources to a project creates deficiencies, allocating too many leads to wastage and under-utilization. That is why, optimum resource distribution is very important.

Optimism: (n) the confident belief that everything that happens is for the good.

Origin: related with optimum.

  • “Do not worry,” Shailesh confidently told all his friends. “We will all pass.” They all knew how badly each one of them had done in the exam. One of them asked, “May we know the basis of your optimism?”
  • An optimist believes that everything that happens is for the good.

Oeuvre: (n) the total work of a creative artist; any individual work of a creative artist.

Origin: L opus, work -> Fr oeuvre, work

  • The oeuvre of film director Sanjay Leela Bhansali includes sensitive films like Khamoshi and Black.
  • The oeuvre of the celebrated writer Vikram Seth spans different genres, from travel writing to novel-in-verse to poetry to novel.

Manoeuver: (n) a skillful move, especially to change direction; a well-planned movement of troops and military equipment; (v) making such moves.

Origin: L manus, hand + operari, to work -> Fr maneuver, to work by hand => ‘to handle skillfully.’

  • For a new driver, the most difficult manoeuver is to take a U-turn.
  • It is the job of a ship captain to manoeuver his vessel through icebergs, fog or storms.

Inure: (v) to become used to; harden; to give benefit to.

Origin: in, in + Fr oeuvre, work => ‘in use’,

  • The high frequency of corruption cases in our country has inured us and we are less shocked each time we hear about a new scam.
  • “How do you people live here?” The tourist asked his local guide. He lived in the plains and was shivering badly in the sub-zero temperature of the high mountains despite wearing many layers of warm clothes. His guide smiled and said, “Sir, we become inured to the cold.”
  • The Supreme Court directed the government to make sure that the food subsidy scheme did actually inure to the poor people for whom it was meant.

Defunct: (adj) no longer functioning; no longer in use.

Origin: L de-,off + fungi, to perform => ‘off-duty’

  • The kidnappers kept the child in a defunct textile mill.

Dysfunctional: (adj) not functioning properly.

Origin: L dys-, bad + fungi, to perform => ‘performing badly’

  • The doctors removed a dysfunctional kidney of the patient.
  • He sought divorce as a way out of his dysfunctional marriage.

Perfunctory: (adj) done merely out of duty; done without interest or enthusiasm.

Origin: L per-, through + fungi, to perform => ‘to just perform through somehow’

  • The teacher gave a perfunctory lecture and, in the end, she asked perfunctorily, “Did you all understand?” The students, most of whom had slept through the class, replied with an equally perfunctory “Y-e-s m-a-a-m” because they didn’t want to prolong their torture by asking doubts from the teacher.

Factitious: (adj) artificial, not real.

Origin: L facere, to make => ‘made up’

  • Leela had learnt to distinguish between real and factitious love.
  • Factitious laughter, factitious story

Affected: (v) to pretend, to like.

Origin: L ad-, to + facere, to do

  • He affected to affect Hindu principles, and delighted in discussing them. His wife, however, could not persuade herself that he really believed in them.

Superficial: (adj) on or near the surface; just outward; not deep.

Origin: L super, over + facies, face => ‘over the face’ => ‘at the surface’

  • Last minute study before an exam is always superficial. One just cannot afford to waste time thinking about the hows and the whys at that time. Such superficial knowledge also evaporates quickly.
  • A friend in need is a friend indeed. Superficial friendships never survive the test of tough times.

Pluperfect: (adj) more than perfect.

Origin: L plus, more + per-, through + facere, to do => ‘more than done thoroughly’ => ‘more than perfect’

  • In English grammar, the past perfect tense is also known as the pluperfect tense

Beguile: (v) to cheat, mislead.

Origin: be- + guile

  • His family beguiled him into marriage with assurances of how wonderful it was to have a loving someone by one’s side through all the ups and downs of life.
  • He introduced himself as the priest of a church in a nearby village and acted so well that he beguiled even the cleverest people into giving him money. He told them that he would use their money to organize a medical camp in his village. No one ever suspected his guiles.

Guile: (n) a clever trick used to cheat or make someone do what you want.


Facile: (adj) easy; moving or working with ease.

Origin: L facere, to make -> facilis, easy to make. The opposite of facile is ‘difficult’, both meaning-wise and etymologically. Here is the etymology of ‘difficult:’

L dis-, not + facilis, easy-> difficilis, not easy

  • The teacher had the talent to make the most complicated concepts appear clear and facile to their understanding.
  • The poetry written in Sanskrit is not facile to most young Indians today.
  • Shami found it disgusting to think that his wife had always lied to him in such a facile, heartless way.

Avuncular: (adj) related with uncle.

Origin: L avunculus, mother’s brother. The word ‘uncle’ itself is from this root.

qqShomit was much closer to his maternal uncle than to his parents. So, whenever he was distressed by life’s problems, he sought avuncular advice.


Languish: (v) to lose energy and droop; to suffer prolonged misery or neglect.

  • Banke Bihari languished in jail for 16 years awaiting trial. If the court had heard his case immediately upon his arrest, then even if he had been found guilty, the maximum sentence he would have got would have been of two years.

Officious: (adj) overly eager to offer one’s services, so much that the person to whom such services are offered becomes annoyed.

Origin: from ‘office.’ The etymology of ‘office’ is as under:

L opus, work + facere, to do => ‘work one has to do’ => ‘duty, service.’

  • ‘Who was the gentleman you were dancing with,’ Mrs Kundra asked her daughter-in-law as they were returning from a wedding party, ‘who was later so officious in helping you with your sprained foot?’
  • A good helper is never officious; he offers his services only when asked for.

Beatific: (adj) producing bliss or happiness.

Origin: L beatus, happy + facere, to make

  • “Your smile is beatific. All my tensions evaporate when I see it and a calm confidence comes over. I feel that all is well in the world when I see you smiling.” The man thought as he watched his sleeping little daughter.
  • The gods are often painted with a beatific smile on their faces.

Sudorific: (adj) sweat producing.

Origin: L sudor, sweat + facere, to make

  • Sweat glands are also known as sudorific glands.
  • The body gives a sudorific reaction to fear.
  • Drinking a sudorific herb tea produces sweat in the body; the hotter the tea, the more the sweat.

Artifice: (n) a clever trick; cleverness; something created with a lot of skill and cleverness.

Origin: L ars, art + facere, to make => ‘to make with art’

  • Raavan brought Sita out of the Laxman Rekha by artifice.
  • The Ramayana is written with a lot of artifice. Valmiki was a real genius to have told so complex a story so well.

Fructify: (v) to bear fruit.

Origin: L fructus, fruit + facere, to make

  • At last, Kamal’s years of hard work fructified. He got a top rank in the IAS entrance exam.
  • Mango plants fructify in the summer months.

Fiat: (n) an authoritative order.

Origin: L fiat, let it be done

  • The Karnataka state government enforced Kannada education in primary schools by fiat.
  • The king’s words were seen by his people as a fiat from God.
  • The Khap panchayat ordered the couple to treat each other as brother and sister because they were from the same village. The couple, however, refused to obey the Panchayat’s fiat.

Wrangle: (v) to argue noisily; to obtain with a scheme.

  • “I can’t stand it when you wrangle,” the mother told her kids in great frustration.
  • The divorced husband and wife wrangled in the court for the custody of their child.
  • India and Pakistan have been wrangling over Kashmir for more than six decades now.

But make sure that ‘The word wegde’.

  • He wrangled an invite to the embassy dinner. The word ‘wangle’ too could have been used in this sentence instead of ‘wrangle.’ It too means ‘to obtain with a scheme.’

Breach: (n) a breakage.

Origin: related with ‘break’

  • Breach of trust, breach of security, breach of the terms of a contract, breach of rules
  • A major breach in the main water supply line flooded the eastern zone of the city.

Feckless: (adj) irresponsible, ineffective.

Origin: effect + less

  • At a time when foreigners were building up their presence in India, the rulers of most Indian states were feckless and did nothing more than spending their time drinking, enjoying music, dances and women and fighting each other.

Broach: (v) to talk about for the first time; to draw a liquid by piercing a hole in its container; (n) a cutting tool used to create or enlarge holes.

  • After exchanging pleasantries for around 10 minutes with his relatives, the host cleared his throat indicating that he was going to broach the subject of his daughter’s marriage. He said, “Let us now talk about the issue that we have all gathered here for.”
  • The robber threw the owner of the house down on the floor and holding a thick iron rod in his hand, thundered, “Tell me where the keys of the safe are, or else this blow will broach your dearest blood!”
  • The carpenter made a hole in the wood with a broach.
  • Traditionally, beer was brewed in winter and then stored in air-tight kegs in a cold cellar. It would become fit for drinking by the following spring and then, the kegs were broached.

Keg: (n) a small barrel.


Unseemly: (adj) inappropriate; that which does not look good.

Origin: un + seemly

Seemly: (adj) that which looks good; approriate; attractive.

Origin: from ‘seem’ => ‘that which seems good’

  • A seemly appearance and a cheerful manner are necessary for an air hostess.

Harangue: (n) a long, passionate speech; (v) to deliver such a speech.

  • The old man addressed a long harangue to Jemmy about the worthlessness of his poems and stories.
  • The landlady went upstairs to harangue her tenant who was hosting a boisterous drinking party.
  • In the election rally, the politician harangued against his opponent’s attempt to divide Hindus and Muslims.

Vilify: (v) to speak ill about; to try to defame.

Origin: a vilis, cheap, inferior + facere to make => ‘to make cheap’

  • The Indian minister accused Pakistan of trying to vilify India in every forum or occasion, justified or not.
  • The Chief Minister said that the Opposition parties were spreading half-truths and untruths about his government to vilify it.
  • The writer was vilified all over India for the title and contents of his book, ‘The Bullshit called India.’

Disaffect: (v) to make one lose his affection and loyalty.

Origin: L dis- + ‘affect’, to inspire with affection

  • The uncaring king, who spent all his time chasing women or pleasures, soon disaffected the people. His ministers warned him about the peoples’ disaffection and tried to make him do something about it but he simply didn’t bother. He did not mend his ways. One day, he increased the taxes yet once more. The popular disaffection, which had been simmering below the surface till then, boiled over into a violent uprising that day. An extremely angry flood of people, stretching for miles and miles, stormed into the king’s palace that day and rested only after killing the king and all his sons and daughters.

Simmer: (v) to cook (food) in a liquid just below the boiling point; to be just below the point when one breaks out in anger or excitement


Rankle: (v) to continue to irritate, annoy or give pain.

  • India’s loss of the Footbal Cup to Pakistan by a hair’s breadth—India was 1-0 to Pakistan for most of the match, till Pakistan scored a goal in the last minute and another in the extra time—continued to rankle Indian fans for quite some time.
  • Abhi had promised to marry Sia but had run away on the wedding day, never to return. He turned up at her door 10 years later. “I am very sorry,” he said. “The guilt of what I did to you has rankled in my heart all these years. It as if I have a pus-filled painful wound in there. This wound has not let me live one day in peace since that day and I know it will continue to fester till I die.”

Rancour: (n) rankling anger, bitterness or enmity.

  • “Come,” said the chief of one warring community to the other, “let us put aside all rancour and talk pleasantly.”
  • Sudhir’s love for Shama was a great love, above jealousy. It not only held her happiness above his own, but the happiness and welfare of the man she loved, as well. He felt no rancour at all against Shashi for marrying Shama.
  • Hundreds of innocent soldiers were sacrificed to the personal rancour of the two kings.
  • There has been rancour between India and Pakistan right from Independence.

Ineffectual: (adj) not effective.

Origin: in-, not + effectual, effective

  • The state government’s attempts to control poverty proved ineffectual.
  • The fast bowlers proved ineffectual against the master batsman.

Discomfiture: (n) confusion, embarrasment; frustration of hopes

Origin: L dis- + com- + facere, to make => ‘to not make what was expected’

  • “Oh, what a made-for-each-other couple! See, even their names match!” Fifteen-year-old Sumit’s friends teased him about Sumi. “Oh Shut up yaar!” Sumit flushed with discomfiture. “You say just anything. Someone will overhear.”
  • Naureen was discomfited because the friend whom she had brought along to her aunt’s house was not making a good impression.
  • “And the award of the Best Student of the Year goes to…” Hitesh got up from his seat with a smile as his enthusiastic friends patted him on the back. “….Yatin Chaudhary!” Hitesh was discomfited. Yatin? But his class teacher has told him that it was he, Hitesh, who had won the award!

Feasible: (adj) doable, suitable.

Origin: L facere, to do

  • The father said it was not feasible for him to arrange independent tuitions for each of his children.
  • Johny’s scheme for world peace is very interesting but hardly feasible.

Factotum: (n) a servant who does all types of work in a house.

Origin: L fac, do + totum, everything

  • The character Lalloo Prasad in the movie Hum Aapke Hain Kaun is a factotum. He cooks food, cleans utensils, cleans the house, brings groceries and does all other work he is asked to do.

Faculty: (n) an ability; a department of a university; the staff of an educational institute.

Origin: L facilis, easy -> facultas, ability

  • The management school of the Delhi University is known as ‘Faculty of Management Studies’ (FMS).
  • When it started in 1922, Delhi University had just two faculties—Art and Science—and only 750 students.
  • The mental faculties decline with age.
  • A particular disability is often compensated by the superior functioning of another faculty. For example, blind people usually have much sharper senses of smell and sound.

Faction: (n) a group within a larger group.

Origin: L. facere, ‘to do or make (a class or party of people)’.

  • There were many factions within the political party. The party leaders spent more time in fighting each other than in fighting the other parties.
  • One faction in the government wanted that the state be divided on the basis of language while another opposed the idea.

Factious: (adj) related with faction; promoting factions.

Origin: from faction

  • The party could not win over the factious tendencies of its leaders. It slowly disintegrated.
  • The government had a smooth time in office because of the factious nature of the Opposition.

Artifact: (n) something which is man-made and not natural.

Origin: L arte factum, made with art => ‘not natural’

  • The National Museuem has numerous artifacts belonging to the Indus Valley civilization.
  • Moradabad is famous for its brass artifacts.
  • Seema opened a posh store that sold handcrafted decorative artifacts collected from all over India and abroad.

Efficacy: (n) effectiveness

Origin: from ‘effect.’

  • The pharmaceutical company conducted trials to evaluate the efficacy of the AIDS vaccine. Unfortunately, the vaccine’s efficacy turned out to be low and short-lived.
  • The bark of a dog which barks all the time loses its efficacy.

Putrefaction: (n) rotting

Origin: L putrere, to rot + facere, to make => ‘to make rotten’

  • Material that is subject to putrefaction is called putrescible. Human body is putrescible. Refrigeration of the dead body slows down the process of putrefaction and enables for it to be buried three days after death. Otherwise, the first stage of the dead body’s decomposition occurs in the first two days after death. In this stage, the body becomes cold and stiff. The second stage is Putrefaction and this sets in after two days. Here, the body swells up, becomes greenish-blue and emanates a putrid odour. As the putrefaction advances, the colour of the body changes from green to brown to black.

Putrid: (adj) rotten

Origin: L putrere, to rot


Stupefy: (n) to put into a stupor, to make the mind numb.

Origin: L stupere, to be numb + facere, to make

Stupor: (n) state of being incapable of sensing or understanding anything, mental numbness.

  • Ali Baba had seen that the cave in front of him had opened when the dacoits had shouted ‘Khulja Simsim.’ The dacoits were long gone now and he felt tempted to get into the cave himself. “Khulja Simsim!” He nervously ordered and, the cave opened! He went inside and was stupefied to see mountains of gold and diamonds all around. His mind became numb at the sight of so much wealth.
  • Tia had invited her friend Rahul to have dinner with her parents. In the middle of the meal, Tia cleared her throat and in a serious, shaking voice said, “Mama, Papa, I want to tell you something. Rahul is not my friend. We married in court this week.” There was a stupefied silence. A spoonful of curd and a glass of water froze in mid-air as the old man and the woman who held them were paralyzed with shock.
  • She lived in the stupor of drugs. Devdas spent his last years in the stupor of drink.

Refectory: (n) dining hall

Origin: L re-, again + facere, to make => ‘to make again’ => ‘to renew’ => ‘to reenergise by eating food’

  • At five o’ clock, the school was dismissed and all the students and the masters went to the refectory for tea.

Surfeit: (n) excess

Origin: L super, over + facere, to do => ‘to overdo’

  • After the success of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, there was a surfeit of romantic movies featuring NRIs.
  • There is a surfeit of mangoes in the market in summers.

Defection: (n) the action of leaving a party or a country and going to another; (v): defect

Origin: L de- + facere, to do => ‘to fail’ => ‘to leave’

  • The king’s army was weakened by the defection of his Lieutinant General to his enemy’s side.
  • Three months before the state elections, seven sitting MLAs of the Congress defected to the BJP.

Edifice: (n) a large building; a large, complex structure.

Origin: L aedes, building + facere, to make => ‘to build’

  • The Akshardham Temple in Ahmedabad is a grand edifice, ten-stories high.
  • The edifice of Modern Physics is built on the foundation of two theories- the Quantum Theory and the General Theory of Relativity.

Edify: (v) to give moral or spiritual lesson.

Origin: L aedes, building + facere, to make => ‘to build’

  • The Ramayana not only entertains but also edifies its readers.
  • The moral stories that we used to read in school were written for our edification.

Rarefy: (v) to make rare; (adj) rarefied: belonging to a select group.

  • One needs oxygen cylinders to survive in the rarefied atmosphere of Mountain Everest. The people who do manage to first reach the summit and then come back alive belong to a rarefied group.

Summit: (n) peak of a mountain.

Origin: L summus, highest


Ramify: (v) to branch out.

Origin: L ramus, branch + facere, to make

  • The Intelligence Bureau reported to the Home Minister that the Naxals had ramified their network all over the country.
  • Education in class 11 ramifies into three main streams—Science, Commerce and Humanities. The Science stream further ramifies into Medical and Non-Medical.

Ramification: (n) the act of branching out; a branch; a derived result, an implication or a consequence.

  • Medical and Non-Medical are the two ramifications of the Science stream.
  • The Green Revolution made India self-reliant in foodgrains. However, it had some unintended ramifications too.
  • The wise always consider the ramifications of their intended actions before they set about to do something.

Amplify: (v) to make larger; to expand by adding details.

Origin: L amplus, large + facere, to make

  • Speakers amplify the sound from a music player.
  • The teacher amplified the theory, much beyond what was written in the book and by giving examples from the real world, till he was satisfied that each student had understood it.

Another word from the root amplus is ample.

Ample: (adj) more than sufficient.

  • Ample food, ample money, ample leisure, ample excuses

Qualify: (v) to limit, restrict; to give a characteristic of; to modify.

Origin: L qualis, quality + facere, to make => ‘to give a quality of ’

  • “The unqualified truth is that I like you very much,” Ratan told Sia breathlessly in one go. Sia stayed quiet for a minute. She then gave him a qualified answer. “I like you too, but only as a friend.”
  • Adjectives qualify nouns and adverbs qualify verbs.
  • In the film Ek Duje Ke Liye, the families of the hero and the heroine give qualified assent to their desire to get married. They ask the couple to stay apart for a year with no contact or communication at all. If after one year, the boy and the girl are still in love, they promise to marry them gladly.

Facet: (n) one of the many small, polished faces of a cut gem.

Origin: L facies, face -> Fr. facette, little face

  • He is a multi-faceted personality—a businessman, an actor, a singer and a writer all rolled into one.
  • He turned the jewel of memory, and facet by facet it dazzled him with its brilliant loveliness.

Fa|ade: (n) the front face of a building.

Origin: L facies, face

  • The long, red-brick house had an impressive 24-window two storey fa|ade.
  • The Hawa Mahal in Jaipur is famous for its five-story red sandstone fa|ade. This fa|ade is lined with 953 small windows decorated with very fine lattice work. The ladies of the royal household used these windows to see the market street below without being seen themselves. Many people say that it is erroneous to call Hawa Mahal a palace because behind the impressive fa|ade of the Hawa Mahal lies no building!
  • Behind the fa|ade of democracy, the President ruled like a dictator.

Efface: (v) to erase, wipe out.

Origin: L ex-, out + facies, face => ‘to rub out a face’

  • After breaking up with her boyfriend, she desperately tried to efface the permanent tattoo of his name on her arm.
  • Devdas tried to efface all memories of Paro by washing them with alcohol.
  • Most Indian women efface themselves after marriage and become merely the obedient, loyal shadows of their husbands and children.

Deface: (v) to spoil the appearance of.

Origin: L de- + facies, face

  • Defacing public property with graffiti is actually a form of vandalism and is punishable by law. However, we Indians blatantly deface the walls of our heritage sites and of our government and public buildings with ugly graffiti or film posters.

Feign: (v) to pretend.

Origin: L fingere, to shape => ‘to make a show of ’

  • The truant child feigned illness on the morning of the test to avoid going to school.
  • The detective was convinced that the widow’s tears were feigned.

Unfeigned: (adj) real, genuine.

  • The police inspector was convinced that the widow’s tears were unfeigned and the murderer was someone else.

Feint: (n) a false show.

Origin: from feign

  • The detective was convinced that the widow’s tears were a feint to deflect his suspicions from her.

Fictitious: (adj) not factual, made-up, false.

Origin: L fingere, to shape -> fictus, shaped, constructed. The word ‘fiction’ too is from this root.

  • Movies and TV serials often carry this disclaimer: “This work is fictitious and any resemblance to any person dead or living is purely coincidental.”
  • The murderer escaped to a small village, far away from the city, and started living their under a fictitious name and told the villagers a fictitious story of his life.

Figment: (n) a product of imagination.

Origin: L fingere, to shape + -ment => ‘something shaped’

  • The mother came running into her son’s bedroom upon hearing his violent cry in the middle of the night. She found him sitting on his bed, looking terribly afraid. She put her arms around him; he clung to her, shaking badly. “What happened, sweetie?” She asked in a soothing voice, stroking his back in a reassuring manner. “Mama, ghost!” The child exclaimed with terror. “There was a ghost in my room!” “There are no ghosts, sweetie,” the mother coolly replied. “It was just a figment of your imagination. Weren’t you watching that horror show before sleeping? That was why you saw the ghost in your dream.”

Effigy: (n) an image or a dummy of a person.

Origin: L ex-, out + fingere, to shape => ‘to shape a likeness to a person’

  • The protesting citizens burnt an effigy of the state’s chief minister.
  • Every year on Dussehra, people burn an effigy of Ravana to commemorate the victory of good over evil.

Figurine: (n) a small statue.

Origin: from figure

  • Dancers often keep figurines of Shiva Nataraja with them.
  • The old lady gifted a gold figurine of Lord Ganesha to her newly-wed grandson and his bride.

Figurative: (adj) involving a figure of speech, representing by a figure or a symbol.

  • Speech is of two types—literal and figurative. In literal speech, words convey their dictionary meanings. For example, ‘grass is green.’

But in figurative speech, words are used to represent ideas and images beyond their literal meanings. For example, ‘he turned green upon seeing everyone praise his brother.’ This sentence does not mean that the man’s skin colour actually became green, but that he became jealous of his brother. Similarly, when one says ‘the old man kicked the bucket,’ he does not mean that the old man physically kicked a real bucket. This is an idiomatic way of saying ‘the old man died.’ Metaphors, similes, idioms, parables and allegories are examples of figurative speech.

They are also called tropes.

Trope: (n) a figure of speech, such as a metaphor or a parable, which uses words in their non-literal sense.


Transfigure: (v) to change shape, transform.

Origin: L trans-, across + figura, form

  • Love is an intoxicant. It transfigures the world and all things start looking beautiful.
  • There was a light in his eyes which transfigured his face to something superhuman and devilish. She turned away from him, shuddering.

Disfigure: (v) to spoil the appearance of.

Origin: L dis- + figura, form

  • The accidental fire in the laboratory disfigured her face and arms.
  • The palace wall was disfigured by paan stains and charcoal graffiti.

Adapt: (v) to adjust to given conditions.

Origin: L ad-, towards + aptus => ‘to take towards being fitted’


Adept: (adj) expert

Origin: L ad-, to + aptus, fitted => ‘fitted to something’ => ‘well-suited to a particular task’ => ‘expert at it.’

  • Akbar proved adept at incorporating the various religious and linguistic traditions of his empire into the culture of his court.
  • Mohammad Rafi was equally adept at singing slow songs like Mere mehboob tujhe meri mohabbat ki qasam as singing boisterous ones like Yahoo, chahe koi mujhe junglee kahe.

Boisterous: (adj) noisy


Inept: (adj) totally lacking skill or ability, inappropriate.

Origin: L in-, not + aptus => ‘not fitted’ => ‘ill-suited to a task’

  • Seth Duni Chand was inept at handling money and the family sank deeper and deeper into debt.
  • As a result of Seth Duni Chand’s ineptitude with money, his family sank deeper and deeper into debt.


Test Your Skills Now!
Take a Quiz now
Reviewer Name