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The Greek word ops means ‘eye’. When we combine aner and ops, we get anthropos which means ‘man with an eye.’ Since all men have eyes, anthropos simply means ‘a man.’


The study of mankind is called anthropology. A lover of mankind is a philanthropist and a hater of makind is a misanthrope.


In our childhood, we studied the story of the hare and the tortoise. Did it ever strike you that in this, and in almost every animal story we’ve ever read, the animals talk, think, behave and emote exactly like humans? These animals are anthropomorphic.

Then, there are
anthropoid animals, like the guerilla, which actually are quite similar to us.


Latin vir man

Were you startled upon seeing vir? Hindi too has the word vir, and the Hindi vir too means man. Yes, the two words are related. They are from the same IE root.



IE gyne woman

The IE root for woman is very close to the root for birth, gen- . In Sanskrit, the word for birth is janam or janu and the woman is called janani or jani. The word for a woman in rustic Punjabi is janaani, which is nothing but a corruption of janani.Persian word for woman is zan, found in zenana, the part of the house reserved for women.


The English words from this IE root are misogynypolygyny and ‘gynaecology’, the branch of medicine that deals with women’s diseases.


IE nomen name

The English name, Greek onoma, Latin nomen and the Sanskrit and Persian naam are all in this family.

‘Synonyms’ are the words that name the same idea (Gk syn-, same + onoma, name), while ‘antonyms’ name the opposite idea. (Gk ant(i), opposite + -onym, name).


Onomatopoeic words make the sound they name. Examples: hum, buzz, bang, clank, clangour, cuckoo, ding, gurgle, murmur and clique.


Badnaami becomes ignominy in English and naam, renown.

Someone who sends poems to magazines without sending his name clearly wants to remain anonymous
. Then, there are poets who publish under pseudonyms. Like the character of Sanjay Dutt in the movie Saajan. His name in the movie was Aman, but he published his poems as Sagar. This simple fact created the whole drama in the movie.


The other words from this root are:

Nomen-1: Nomenclaturenominal, misnomer

Nomen-2: contronymhomonymeponym


Latin pecus cattle

The Sanskrit word pashu is a cognate of pecus. In the older times, when money was not yet invented, a man’s financial standing was measured by the number of cattle he had. A guy who had lots and lots of pecus was called ‘pecunious’, and the one who had none, ‘impecunious’. To steal somebody’s cattle was called peculation. Pecuniary matters were the matters related with cattle. ‘Peculiar’ meant ‘related to one’s own cattle’.


With time, money replaced cattle, both as the index of a man’s wealth, and in the meanings of the words above. So, here’s presenting the modern meanings of these words:



Latin caballus horse

The unit of earlier armies that fought on horseback was called the ‘cavalry’ because of this root. A soldier on horseback was called a cavalier or a knight. The qualities that a knight was expected to possess were conveyed by the word chivalry.


Imagine a cavalry moving from one location to another. You would see a huge procession of men on horses, all dressed up in knightly armour, moving through a forest, the horses kicking up a lot of dust. What you are seeing is a cavalcade.


IE cabekwo-allus horse

The Latin word equus is a child of ekwo-. It is found in equine and equestrian.
The Sanskrit cousin of equus is ashwa. The Vedas describe Ashwamedha, a horse-sacrifice which could be performed only by a king. It was a year-long yagya which started when the king caparisoned and decorated his best horse and set it free. The horse could wander anywhere; no one dared stop it or alter its course. Every kingdom that let the horse pass through was considered to have accepted the suzerainty of the horse’s owner. If some king refused to allow the horse into his land, the king conducting the Ashwamedha declared war upon him and subjugated his kingdom so that the horse could move unrestrained.


When, after an year, the horse finally returned home, the king sacrificed it in a grand ceremony. The Ashwamedha was supposed to bring great bounties and glory to the kingdom (it certainly did bring in many new vassal states!) but of course, not every king had the audacity to perform it.


IE gwou-  ox, bull, cow

Of course, we are all familiar with this root! Our gau mata comes from here!
The English word ‘cow’ too is a family member. The Latin brother of cow is bos and the Greek one is bous. They resemble our word baill.


The other baill related words are: beef, bovinebuglebucolic, butter.


Anthropology: (n) study of mankind, that is, study of how the civilizations and cultures developed.

Origin: anthropos, man + -ology, study.

(n) a man who loves mankind. He tries to help everybody he can.

Origin: Gk philos, loving + anthropos, man, mankind

  • Bill Gates and his wife are philanthropists. They started ‘The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’ which is doing great work in battling with AIDS in Africa.
  • The Nobel laureate scientist said that he was the son of poor parents and could get the best education only because of the scholarships that first his school and later his college and university had provided him. “I owe my career to the people who set up those scholarships.

They had the goodness to give their money to educate someone they would never meet. And see what a difference their philanthropy

made to my life!”

(n) one who hates mankind. He, therefore, stays away from all people or worse, engages in anti-social activities. He thinks that no man is good or trustworthy.

Origin: Gk miso-, hating + anthropos.

  • His misanthropy was clearly shown when he said this to his son, “Do not ever trust anybody in this world, not even your shadow, leave alone me or your brothers or sisters or your friends. This world is selfish. No one does anything for anyone here for free; if someone is being good to you, think what could be the ulterior motive. There will always be an ulterior motive, I am telling you. Every single person in this world is a rascal, ready to eat the flesh off your body, ready to eat you up to your last bone. You are too good for this world. Save yourself if you can.”

Ulterior: (adj) hidden, lying beyond the time period or topic being considered.

Origin: L ulter, beyond => ‘lying beyond what can be seen’ => ‘hidden’. The ultraviolet (UV) rays are called so because they lie beyond the violet coloured rays in the Electromagnetic Spectrum (the band of rays, in which different types of rays are arranged according to the energy they carry.)

  • The teachers of the school were having a meeting to discuss the preparations for the annual function. One teacher raised her hand and addressed the Principal, “Ma’am, we can hold the Sports Day and the Annual Function on consecutive days. This will save us money.”

The staff members considered this idea. Then, one said, “Or we can do away with the Sports Day altogether and have a Fete and a

Science Exhibition instead this year, held, as my colleague said, one day before the Annual Function.” This remark created a buzz. Many

teachers vehemently opposed this idea and argued about the need for a Sports Day, while others favoured the Fete equally strongly.

When the debate went on for five minutes and showed no sign of subsiding, the Principal thumped the table and said in a voice loud

enough to be heard over the din, “My dear colleagues, this debate is ulterior to the agenda for this meeting. I have taken note of the

suggestion and we will meet some time to discuss it but for now, let us discuss the preparations for the Annual Function.”

(adj) having the form or the characteristics of a man.Origin: Gk anthropo-, man + morph, form

(adj) man-like in appearance, therefore, ape, guerilla.

Origin: Gk anthropos

(adj) masculine; (n): virility

  • Black and dark blue are considered to be virile colours.

Virtue: (n) moral goodness.

Origin: a vir, man => ‘qualities befitting a man’.

  • Lord Ram and Sita were the perfect examples of virtue.

Virtuoso: (n) an expert in an art.

Origin: from L virtuosus, one who has virtues => ‘an’ excellent man’. The word ‘virtuous’ too is from the same root.

  • A.R. Rahman is a virtuoso musician.
  • Ustad Zakir Hussain gave a virtuoso tabla performance.

Triumvirate: (n) a group of three men in authority.

Origin: L trium, three + vir, man

  • Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh are the ruling triumvirate of the Hindu gods

Misogyny: (n) hatred of women.

Origin: Gk miso-, hatred + gyne, women.

(n) having many wives.

Origin: Gk poly-, many + gyne.

  • Polygyny has been quite common in Indian history but polyandry has been rare. Draupadi is an example of a polyandrous woman.

She had five husbands.

Polyandry: (n) having many husbands.

Origin: Gk poly-, many + aner, man.

(n) the use of words whose pronunciation is the same as the sound they name.

Origin: Gk onoma, onomat-, name, word + poiein, compose, make => ‘to make what it names’.

The fact that the root poiein also begets the word ‘poet’ will help you remember that the correct spelling of the word is Onomatopoeia, not onomatopia.

(n) a loud, ringing, repeated noise.

  • She was climbing up the dark, spiral staircase by feeling the wall. Suddenly, the plate in her hand started glowing green. Shocked, she just threw the plate away. The clangour of the steel plate falling down the stairs resonated throughout the house. 100 Clique: (n) a small group of friends or people with common interests in which no outsiders are allowed.

Origin: From the clicking sound made when a latch is closed to hold a closed door meeting.

  • While the struggle for independence was going on, the leaders of Indian National Congress said that the Muslim League was just a clique of wealthy Muslims and nothing more. What they implied was that the Muslim League did not represent the majority of Muslims who were poor.
  • The new employee felt terribly out of place in his new office because every colleague of his was a part of one or the other clique in the office. These cliques were mutually-exclusive groups which ate together, passed their time together and gossiped together about the others. He ate and sat alone.

Ignominy: (n) public dishonour or shame. An action or a thing which is likely to bring ignominy is called ignominious.

Origin: L ig-, in-, not + nomen, name => ‘name is lost’

  • When the manager discovered that the office clerk—with the ironical name Satya Prasad Sharma—had been embezzling the officefunds for a long time, he called him to his office and said, “Resign by today evening or get ready for the ignominy of being thrown out.”

Embezzle: (v) to steal something (money, etc.) that you were asked to look after.

(n) fame; (adj): renowned: ‘famous’

Origin: L re-, again + nomer, to name => ‘to name again and again’ => ‘the state of your name being taken again and again’

  • Salman Rushdie is a novelist of world-renown.
  • Salman Rushdie is a world-renowned novelist.

Anonymous: (n) one whose name is not known.

Origin: L a-, without + nomen => ‘without name’

  • The poet of these inspiring lines is anonymous: “Plan your castle in the air, then build a ship to take you there.”
  • In the Hindi movie Darr, Kiran is harassed by her anonymous lover.

Pseudonym: (n) a false name used by an author to protect his real identity; pen name.

Origin: Gk pseudo-, false + -onym, name => ‘false name’

(n) system of naming or terminology.

Origin: L nomen, name + calator, caller => ‘a caller of names’. In ancient Rome, when a politician went to meet his constituents, he would take a servant along whose job was to tell him the names and details of all the people who came to him, so that he could know what to say to whom. This servant was called a Nomenclator. Later on, this word started being used for a person who assigns names, as in scientific classification.

  • The nomenclature of the Bombay, Madras and Calcutta High Courts hasn’t changed even though their cities are now called Mumbai,

Chennai and Kolkata, respectively.

(adj) having existence in name only.

Origin: L nomen.

  • The government hospitals and schools charge only nominal fees for their services.
  • “Women have only nominal freedom in our society,” the lady Sarpanch told the journalist who was visiting her village. “In reality, women still must obey the men of their family or they are kicked out or beaten.”

Misnomer: (n) a name wrongly applied to a person or a place.

Origin: L mis-, mistaken + nomen.

  • Laakhan Seth’s name was a definite misnomer. Lakshman, after whom he was named, was devoted to Lord Ram. Laakhan Seth, on the other hand, cut all ties with his poor elder brother who had taken heavy loans to educate and marry him.

Contronym: (n) a word that is its own antonym. It has two mutually-opposite meanings.

Origin: Gk contra-, opposite + -onym => ‘which names opposite ideas”.

Examples of contronyms include the words ‘cleave’ and ‘left.’

(v) split; bind strongly to. The two meanings are totally contrary.

  • The woodcutter was cleaving a log of wood when a monster jumped upon him. He cleaved that monster into two with his axe.
  • The man cleaved to his principles despite mounting pressures to give them up.

Left: (adj) remaining, went.

Everyone went away. Just the two of them were left. He left soon after.

(n) a word which has the same spelling and sound as another but different meaning.

Origin: Gk. Homos, same, + onoma => (having the) same name

  • Example: bark. There are 2 barks in English. Bark number one means ‘the cry of a dog’. The other bark means ‘the outer covering of a tree’.
    There are two other similar types of words—homophones and homographs.

Homophones are words which have the same sound but different spellings and meaning.

Origin: Gk homos + phone, sound => ‘having the same sound’

  • Examples: sun, son; carat, carrot.

Homographs are words which have the same spellings but different meaning.

Origin: Gk homos + graphein, to write => ‘written in the same way’.

  • Example: lead ‘to go first’ and lead ‘a metal’.

Therefore, a homonym is both a homophone and a homograph. However, many people use it to mean either a homophone or a homograph.

For example, they will label carat and carrot as homonyms. This technically incorrect usage of the word is quite common.

(n) the name of a person after which something is named.

Origin: Gk epi-, upn + -onym => ‘named upon’ => ‘named upon a person’

  • Andre Ampere, the man who first measured electrical current, is the eponym of ampere, a unit of measuring electrical current.
  • In the old Hindi movie Sharmilee, the eponymous character was played by the actress, Rakhee.

The eponymous character means the character after which the movie was named.

  • Shahjahanabad was the eponymous city founded by the Mughal emperor Shahjahan.

An eponymous city is that which is named after a person.

So, we can conclude that when we use the word eponymous for a person, it means that person whose name has been used to name something, and when we use it for a thing, it means that thing which has been named after a person.

(adj) having little or no money; poor.

Origin: L im-, not + pecunia, wealth.

Refer to the sentence for ‘philanthropy.’ We can say that the family of the Nobel laureate scientist was too impecunious to send him to university.

(n) the act of stealing someone’s money or property which was entrusted to one’s care.

Origin: L peculum, private property.

  • The school principal was charged with peculation and suspended. His peculations from the school funds were estimated at

`9,19,000. The newspaper headline the next day read: ‘School principal charged with larceny of nine lakh’

(n) theft

(adj) related to money.

L pecus, cattle/money.

  • The Supreme Court ruled, “If the Government incurs pecuniary loss on account of misconduct or negligence of a government servant and if he retires before any departmental proceedings are taken, it is open to the Government to initiate departmental proceedings. If in those proceedings he is found guilty of misconduct, negligence or any other act or omission, as a result of which the Government is put to pecuniary loss, the Government is entitled to withhold, reduce or recover the loss suffered by it by forfeiture or reduction of pension.”

Forfeit: (v) to lose something as a punishment.

(adj) unique, special; odd.

Origin: L peculum, private property.

  • The baby boy was peculiar. He never cried!
  • Not drinking milk—or eating potato ever—was just one of his many peculiarities.

Cavalier: (n) a horseman, esp. a soldier; (adj) so proud of oneself that one thinks everybody else to be beneath one.

  • Many countries objected to the cavalier attitude of America. It decided to bomb Afghanistan and Iraq and just went ahead, without even bothering to discuss the matter with other countries or in the United Nations forums.

Chivalry: (n) qualities like courage, kindness, courtesy, etc., which are expected from a model soldier or a gentleman; (adj) chivalrous.

Origin: L chevaler, a soldier mounted on a horse, that is, a knight

  • It was his first date and Rohan was at his chivalrous best. He opened all the doors for Shalini, asked her to walk in first, pulled out the chair for her, asked her to order and insisted on paying the whole bill when she suggested that they split it.
  • It is against chivalry to strike your opponent when he is unarmed.

Cavalcade: (n) a procession of vehicles.

Origin: L caballus, horse => cavalcare, to go on horseback => ‘a procession of men on horseback’ => ‘a procession of any type of vehicles’

  • Traffic was diverted off the highway for two hours to allow the Prime Minister’s cavalcade, consisting of 14 cars and 16 police vans, a safe and uninterrupted passage.

Equine: (adj) of a horse or related to a horse.

Origin: L equus, horse.

  • The quack doctor claimed to cure cancer with a powder made from equine hair.

Equestrian: (n) a man who rides a horse. A woman who rides a horse is called an equestrienne.

Origin: L equus => ‘a man who rides a horse, just like a man who walks on foot is called a pedestrian.’ (The Latin root ped- means ‘foot’)

  • Equestrian events are the sports events done on horseback.
  • Equestrian Anant won the National Equestrian Championship.

Caparison: (n) a highly decorated covering for a horse.

(v) to decorate with a caparison.

(n) a generous gift; generosity; a reward given by the government or someone else for doing something.

Origin: L bonus, good.

  • When we thank God for his bounties, we are thanking him for all the gifts that he has given to us. When we thank him for his bounty,we are thanking him for his large-heartedness.
  • In the film Sholay, Jai and Veeru are motivated by the bounty they will get if they capture Gabbar Singh. They will get ` 50,000 from the government and ` 20,000 from Thakur.

Vassal: (n) a subordinate who has pledged his loyalty to his master.

  • In the days of Zamindari system, the vassals used to till the lands of the Zamindar and were totally bound by all his orders.

Audacity: (n) boldness, fearlessness.

  • Look at her audacity! She is fighting for her boyfriend with her dad!
  • The audacious soldier volunteered to go to the jungle to hunt the man-eating tiger which had spread terror in the villages of the hill.

Bovine: (adj) related with cow; cow-like.

Origin: L bos, cow, ox.

  • Hindus do not eat bovine meat.
  • Sushil was reading out to his friends the poem that he had written about his first crush in college. One of its lines, which he read amid many enthusiastic wah-wahs was: Her eyes were bovine and her smile, divine.

Bugle: (n) a musical instrument made of brass. It has a cup-shaped mouthpiece and a cylindrical brass tube through which wind passes.

Origin: L bos because the bugle was initially made from the horns of ox.

  • The gatekeeper sounded the bugle of the king’s arrival.

Bucolic: (adj) rural, related with pastures.

Origin: L bos + colere, to cultivate => ‘related with cultivation of cows’ => ‘related with shepherds- the men who rear cows’ => ‘related with rural areas, because that is where the cows are reared.’

qqThe painter had a passion for the bucolic. Most of his paintings depicted bucolic images—lush fields, traditionally dressed women

drawing water from a well, a woman cooking food on a chulha, bleating sheep, grazing cows, houses with thatched huts, etc.

qqThere are many Hindi movies in which the hero is an innocent bucolic who is forced by circumstances to go to the big, bad city.

‘Culture’, ‘cultivate’ are the other words from the root colere. Agriculture means ‘to grow in fields’ (L ager, field). ‘Pisciculture’ means to grow fish (L pisces, fish)   


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