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Her diaphanous sari clung to her in the pouring rain, delineating each detail of her deliciously curved body and transparently showing her skin. She looked….good! His eyes travelled all over her, she shrunk and looked down and tried to cover her chest with her slender arms. Then, he put his hands on her waist and she meekly let him.

The obscenely wealthy Brajesh Makhijani obscenely fancied all that the moment he saw the young girl in the party. She was standing alone and looked around hesitantly, betraying the fact that she was new to such parties. Good, he thought, naïve girls were very easy to trap. Her sartorial choice suggested that she wouldn’t mind being trapped either. She was clearly not comfortable in her short dress. Yet she had chosen to wear it; so, she was probably one of those starry-eyed middle-class girls who were ready to do anything to climb up the ladder of success. Getting her would not prove too difficult and, the self-designated fancier of beauty decided, she was worthy of being got.

He called with a finger one of the many sycophants who went wagging their tails everywhere with him. “I want that girl,” he pointed her out discreetly, “tell her the usual things. Why, what’s the matter?” His faithful flatterer was looking troubled instead of complimenting him, as always, on his fine taste.

“S..sir, but there is nobody there…”

“What the….” He turned around. The girl was there, looking as lost as ever. “Look behind that fat lady by the flower pot, the girl in the red dress.”

“Err…sorry sir…” the man said helplessly and looked down.

“You are useless,” he said impatiently and called another of his men and told him to get the girl.

The fellow looked quizzically at the said girl and then at his downcast colleague and told his boss in a weak voice that he could see no girl there.

That was the first time.

After that, each time he saw a girl he wanted to have, he found that he was the only one who could see her. He was terrified.

“The boss has got rather fanciful these days,” he heard one of his men joke to the others one day. “Oh yeah, the old guy’s mind is totally into women now,” blathered the second as others laughed. Then, a third chipped in cruelly, “I cannot really feel sorry for him. All his life, he has treated women as playthings, as things for use and throw. I used to hate him for that.” They nodded and then the first man quipped,“You must see his expression these days as he points to one of his fantastic women and asks shakily if we can see her. I can barely control my laughter.” Makhijani did not burst upon them in anger only because he was disturbed more. He seemed to have lost all power, over his mind, over his men, otherwise how could anyone have dared to say even one flippant word about him? And his mind? It had always been faithfully rational, had never got out of control. And now, now it could see nothing but those feminine phantasms; he was going crazy!

He went to the doctors. That did not help. He went to the priests. That did not help. Each woman he noticed turned out to be a phantom. It was maddening! If he could not even trust his own eyes and his own mind, who could he trust? Would he have to ask for others’ confirmation for everything his eyes showed him? Oh God, that was so humiliating! He pleaded and prayed for relief. He got none.

His epiphanycame after four months of suffering. A goddess came in his dream and told him that he had been prurient in all his youth and prurience was a sin; so now, she was using his very prurienceto punish him. She (horrifyingly) added that the phantom females would continue to tantalize him as long as he lived.

He could not sleep after that. When he saw another phantasm, he became utterly hopeless that he ever would get rid of them and shot himself in the head.


IE weid- to see

A ‘video’ is seen, an audio is heard.


To ‘view’ something is to see it. The things that can be seen are ‘visible’. Our eyesight is also called our ‘vision’. When you go to see your favourite aunt, you ‘visit’ her. When we ‘revise’ or ‘review’ a topic, we see it again (L. re-, again). To ‘supervise’ a task is to oversee it (L. super-, over). When you go for an ‘interview’, you and your interviewer see each other (L. inter-, mutual). When an old uncle offers you his ‘advice’, he makes you see his point of view (L. ad-, to, towards).

When an embassy grants a ‘visa’ to a man, it is basically saying that his documents have been seen and found to be satisfactory.

All the words above are from the Latin root videre, as are the words below:


Videre 1: providentimprovidentimprovise

Videre-2: prudentimprudentinvidious

Videre 3: purveyorprovisionalproviso

Videre 4: evidentvisageenvisagevista

Videre 5: visionaryclairvoyancedéjà vuvoyeur

The Sanskrit word ves means appearance, that aspect of a man that comes into sight. This word, as well as its English counterpart, guise, is derived from weid-, as also is ‘guide’, a man or a thing that shows the way. Along with guide, another word was born- guy.

No, this is not the guy who looks at girls.

Another weid- word that means appearance is the Greek eidos. It is found in the following words:



A ‘wise’ man is one who can see what others cannot and this ability is called his wit. A wiseacre too boasts about being wise but everybody just laughs him off. The pot of wit has cooked these words-witticismoutwit and unwitting.


The Sanskrit word vidyaman means present, existent, that which can be seen. Something that is avidyaman is unreal. Vidyu meant lightening, and later on, electricity as well. The word vidyut, used as the Hindi counterpart of ‘power’ or ‘electricity’ is derived from it.

To see is to know. That is why, vidya means knowledge, and a man of knowledge is called vidvaan. We are all vidyarthis yet, seekers of vidya trying to open our third eye—the eye of knowledge. Last but not the least, the four Vedas are books of knowledge.


Periscope: (n) an optical instrument with a series of mirrors, prisms and lenses which enables you to see even those surrounding areas which are beyond your range of vision.

Origin: Gk peri-, around + -scope, instrument for seeing => ‘an instrument that helps you see around.’


Skeptic: (n) a person who does not readily believe anything; a person who generally doubts common beliefs. Adj: skeptical, meaning ‘doubtful.’

Origin: Gk skopein, to look => ‘one who examines deeply’ => ‘one who enquires and doubts’

  • “Do you really think that Trisha Oberoi will be able to play Indira Gandhi? It’s a complex role you know,” the film director’s friend asked him. “Not only you Rakesh, many people are skeptical about my choice. But I know that no one can do Indira better than her. Mark my words, one day you too will say the same.”
  • Most Indians believe in God but there are a few skeptics too.

Diaphanous: (adj) almost see-through.

Origin: Gk dia-, through + phainein, to show => ‘that which shows everything through’


Delineate: (v) to draw or show the outline of; to represent a picture either by a sketch or by words.

Origin: L de-, down + linea, line => ‘to draw down every line’ => ‘to sketch’


Obscene: (adj) indecent, disgusting.


Fancy: (v) to imagine; (n) imagination, a sudden, strong desire or idea.

Origin: From fantasy.


Sartorial: (adj) related with clothes or tailors.

Origin: L sartor, tailor


Fancier: (n) a person who is excessively enthusiastic about something; a person who breeds animals to improve their qualities or beauty.

Origin: From fancy


Sycophant: (n) a person who licks the boots of important people so as to gain favors from them.


Quizzically: (adv) with a questioning or puzzled expression.


Fanciful: (adj) imaginative, imagined.


Blather: (v) to talk nonsense.


Quip: (n) a clever, witty remark; (v) to make such a remark.

  • When someone asked Gandhiji what he thought of the western civilization, he quipped, “Oh, that would be a good idea.”

Fantastic: (adj) imaginary; that which is real but is so extraordinary or unnatural that it looks as if it is the product of some overly wild imagination.

Origin: Gk phanein, to make visible -> phantazein-> phantastikos, that which the mind is able to see


Flippant: (adj) disrespectfully casual.


Phantasm: (n) a ghost; something that one thinks he is seeing in reality but which is actually created by his own imagination.

Origin: Gk phainein, to make visible => phantos, visible


Phantom: (n) a ghost; something that one thinks he is seeing in reality but which is actually created by his own imagination.

Origin: Gk phainein, to make visible => phantos, visible


Epiphany: (n) a seeing of a god or an angel; a sudden, clear insight into a problem or issue or the meaning of something that one has been thinking about for long but without much success, usually triggered by some unrelated commonplace occurrence.

Origin: Gk epi-, on + phainein, to make visible => ‘a god choosing to show himself.’


Prurient: (adj) having or related with lustful thoughts.

qqWritings or pictures that cause lustful thoughts in a person are called prurient writings or pictures.


Utterly: (adj) completely; absolutely.

Provident: (adj) showing foresight; related with foresight.

Origin: L pro-, before + videre, to see => ‘to see what lies before’

  • The provident man had insured his business, his house, his car and himself.

Providence: (n) the divine power which controls the affairs and futures of all men. We call it qismat in India.

  • The family cheerfully waved the newly-weds off to their honeymoon. But Providence had other plans. The flight in which the couple was travelling was blown up by terrorists.

Providential: (adj) lucky, resulting from providence.

  • Soomi got her car’s petrol tank filled at the petrol station. But when she opened the dashboard to take out her purse, she saw, to her horror, no purse there! She had forgotten to bring it! Now what? She had to pay 500. She checked her pockets and found just a few loose notes of 10 and coins. She frantically rechecked the dashboard. The cars waiting behind started honking their horns impatiently. Her panic was increasing. No cash, no card, no driving license, and a half-hour distance from home. What to do? She was close to tears as she explained her predicament to the petrol guy. He did not quite seem to believe it. How embarrassing!
  • Just then, a colleague of hers providentially drove in. Mr Sharma!!! She breathed in great relief and rushed to him, explained the whole situation and took 500 from him. As she drove out, she profusely thanked her stars for sending Mr Sharma at the right time.

Improvident: (adj) lacking foresight, not bothering about future planning, careless.

  • Amit had left his well-paying job to be a writer. His friends regarded him as one, who had improvidently thrown away his chance of advancement.
  • His mother and his wife were always telling him to mend his improvident habits, but he never paid heed. The foolish man frittered away his immense fortune. Not content with just that, he even mortgaged his ancestral haveli and all his mothers’ and wife’s ornaments without their knowledge.

Improvise: (v) to prepare and perform on the spot with whatever resources are available.

Origin: L im-, not + pro-, before + videre, to see => ‘not foreseen or prepared for’

  • This was how Mrs. Verma punished her kids for bad behavior. Whenever any of her five children needed to be chastised, she would improvise some festive occasion in which she would take all the children except the offending child to participate. If all the children sinned collectively they were suddenly informed of a circus in a neighbouring town, a circus of unrivalled merit and uncounted elephants, to which, had they not done anything wrong, she would have taken them that very day.
  • Dikshit took up his violin from the corner, and began to play some low, dreamy, melodious air,--his own, no doubt, for he had a remarkable gift for improvisation.
  • In the Indian films, every hero and heroine seems able to improvise perfect, beautiful songs as easily as you doff a hat. I’ve always wondered how they just break into a song and the next words, the tunes, the dance steps keep coming to them automatically! In real life, such a talent is found only in rare individuals like Dikshit.

Note: Improve looks similar but is not from the same root


Prudent: (adj) wise, one who plans for the future and knows what to say and what not to, what to do and what not to; (n): prudence

Origin: From provident

  • Mobile phones need to be used with prudence. Instances are many of criminals literally snatching such phones from those who openly display them in public.

Imprudent: (adj) not prudent

  • When his girlfriend said she would not have breakfast, he looked at her with some concern and inquired if anything was the matter.
    “None,” she said. “But the dinner was so yum last night and I ate so imprudently that my stuffed stomach will rebel if I eat even a morsel more for a week. Plus,” she smiled naughtily, “your relatives might be thinking of me as a glutton. I need to salvage my image, you know.”
  • Ramesh thought it was rather imprudent of Sheena to have come home in a taxi, all alone, at midnight. “You should have called me,” he said sternly. “Why?” she tossed her head. “I know how to take care of myself.”

Invidious: (adj) causing anger, offense or jealousy.

Origin: L in-, upon + videre, to see => ‘to look at someone with jealousy, wishing him harm’ => ‘actions which arise out of jealousy’

  • “Stop crying, my beautiful girl,” Raj Mata patted the youngest rani of her son, the king. “All those ranis speak ill of you because you rule the raja’s heart and they don’t. You don’t have to let yourself be affected by their invidious gossip.”

Purveyor: (n) a provider of some service or things (for example, food items).

Origin: L pro-, before + videre, to see => ‘to foresee’ => ‘to foresee what will be needed and arrange for the supplies of those items.’. The word ‘provide’ has the same etymology.

  • The village moneylenders have till date remained a major purveyor of short-term credit to the poor.
  • A purveyor of foods, a purveyor of jokes, a purveyor of misinformation.
  • ‘Dance Dance’ is a Hindi movie of the late 1980s. It has a song- Aa gaya aa gaya, halwa waala aa gaya- which a pair of homeless and extremely hungry brother and sister sing in great delight when they see a purveyor of halwa.

Provisional: (adj) temporary, based on some condition.

Origin: provide -> provision -> provisional. Provisional means ‘provided that a particular condition is fulfilled.’

  • A university offered provisional admission to its MS programme to a 4th year BE student. Here, ‘provisional admission’ means ‘you are admitted provided that you successfully pass the BE programme with the minimum percentage we require.’ 

Proviso: (n) a condition, like in a contract; a stipulation.

Origin: ‘provided that’

  • After Rai Bahadur died, his will was read. As expected, he had bequeathed his entire wealth to his sole descendant, his granddaughter.
    What was unexpected was the proviso he had made. She would get the bequest only if she married within an year of his death.
    Otherwise, the whole estate would pass on to a charity.
  • The RaiBahadur bequeathed his entire wealth to his granddaughter with the proviso that she married within an year of his death. If she failed to do so, the bequest would pass on to a charity.
  • The Rai Bahadur bequeathed his entire wealth to his granddaughter with the stipulation that she married within an year of his death.
    If she failed to do so, the bequest would pass on to a charity.
  • The Rai Bahadur stipulated that his wealth should be bequeathed to his granddaughter only if she married within an year of his death;otherwise, his wealth should be bequeathed to a charity.

Evident: (adj) clearly seen.

Origin: L e-, out, full + videre, to see

  • Every thing which shows, or gives a clue to, who did a murder is called an evidence.

Visage: (n) face

Origin: L videre, to see -> visum, that which is seen => ‘the top surface, the face’

qq“Uh!” The wife grunted and clawed the air with a powerless rage expressive of an intense desire to tear and rend the visage of her frustrating husband.

  • Kya miliye aise logon se, jinki fitrat chhupi rahe/ naqli chehra saamne aaye, asli soorat chhupi rahe. This song says that it is pointless to be with and believe people who hide their real visages behind masks because you never can know who they really are. The song is from the 1968 movie Izzat and is picturised on Dharmendra, who sings it in a party.

Envisage: (v) to visualize.

Origin: L en-in + visum, sight => ‘to bring in sight’

  • The song ‘Hum honge kamyaab ek din’ envisages a world of no war. Hogi shaanti chaaron aur, hogi shaanti chaaron aur, hogi shaanti chaaron aur ek din/ ho ho mann mein hai vishwaas, poora hai vishwaas, hogi shaanti chaaron aur ek din// Hum chaleinge saath saath, daale haathon mein haath, hum chaleinge saath saath ek din/ ho ho mann mein hai vishwaas, poora hai vishwaas, hogi shaanti chaaron aur ek din.
  • After Ravin had answered the question—“Where do you envisage yourself five years down the line?” the politest member of the threemembered interview panel said that now, he wanted Ravin to ask them all a question. Ravin smiled and asked, “Sir, what kind of a career progression can I envisage in the company?” “If you are selected, you mean?” said the gruff interviewer sitting in the centre of the panel, who, throughout the interview, had seemed to Ravin to have come straight after fighting with his wife or getting kicked by his boss.

Vista: (n) a view.

Origin: L videre, to see

  • The front windows of his aunt’s house commanded a pleasant little vista of street.
  • He had convinced himself that he would never forget Anie. Years kept coming and leaving quietly. Then, one day, he bumped into his long-lost college friend Namrata. And immediately, a new vista of life seemed to open—thoughts which had been dormant since long came thronging on his mind—he was in love again.

Visionary: (adj) related with imagination; (n) a dreamer.

Origin: vision + -ary

  • He was a visionary politician. He had a dream of seeing India as a superpower by 2020 and worked hard towards it.
  • Sheikh Chili was a visionary. He was always dreaming of what he would do and built huge castles in the air and in doing so, spent all the time that he could have spent working.

Clairvoyance: (n) ability to see things that are not physically present before the eyes.

Origin: Fr clai, clear + voyance, sight => ‘clear sight’

  • In the movie 100 days, Madhuri Dixit’s character Devi is clairvoyant. She gets visions some of which show her events that have not yet happened, while others tell her about things which have already happened but about which she doesn’t know. For example, throughtout the movie, she keeps seeing the image of a girl being shot at by a man in a long black overcoat and a black hat, and her hair-dryer falling from her hand. It is only towards the end of the movie that she realizes that that girl was her elder sister, who was killed a few years ago, while Devi and the others continued to believe that she was merely missing.

Déjà vu: (n) the feeling that something has happened before when it is actually happening for the first time.

Origin: Fr déjà vu, already seen.

  • Rupali was visiting the village for the first time but she had a queer sense of déjà vu. She seemed to know what was where, the fields, the windmill far away, the temple on the hill all seemed familiar.

Queer: (adj) strange


Voyeur: (n) a person who secretly peeps into others’ bedrooms.

Origin: L videre, to see -> Fr voir, to see

  • The movies make us into voyeurs. We sit in the dark, watching other people’s lives.
  • Examples of voyeurs: a person who watches pornography, a hotel employee who hides a secret camera in the women’s bathroom to use the recording as private entertainment, a Peeping Tom who looks into his neighbour’s bedroom each night and morning with binoculars.

Guise: (n) external appearance including the manner of dress, haitstyle, etc.

Origin: IE weid-, to see => Old German *wisson, appearance -> Fr guise, appearance

  • For one night each week, the king walked through his city in the guise of a beggar.
  • For one night each week, the king walked through his city disguised as a beggar.

Disguise: (v) hide the actual external appearance under a false one.

Origin: dis- + guise


Guy: (n) a rope used to guide something in a particular direction or to secure something that is likely to change its position.

Origin: from guide


Idol: (n) an image that is worshipped.

Origin: Gk eidos, appearance

  • To idolize someone is to treat him as if he is an image of God and to worship him accordingly.

Idyll: (n) a place or time of simple pleasures with no tensions; a poem that talks about such a place or time.

Origin: Gk eidos, appearance => ‘a little picture’

  • He spent an idyllic childhood in the hills.
  • In the song ‘Aa chalke tujhe main le ke chalun’ a father tells his son about an idyllic place.

Aa chalke tujhe main le ke chaloon, ik aise gagan ke tale

jahaan gam bhi na hon, aansoon bhi na hon

bas pyaar hi pyaar pale.

Jahaan door nazar daudaayein, aazaad gagan lehraaye

jahaan rang birange panchhi aasha ka sandesaa laayein

sapno mein pali hansti ho kali jahaan sham suhaani dhale

jahaan gam bhi na hon, bas pyaar hi pyaar pale


Kaleidoscope: (n) a rotating tube which has bits of coloured glass at one end and two or more mirrors which are set at an angle to one another.

Rotating the tube produces beautiful, constantly changing symmetrical designs through the reflection of the glass bits in the mirrors.

Origin: Gk kalos, beautiful + eidos, appearance


Eidetic: (adj) related to the ability to first observe and then recall a scene with extraordinarily precise visual detail.

Origin: Gk eidos, appearance => ‘related with apperance.’

  • A person with an eidetic memory can remember and easily recall almost everything he sees.

Wit: (n) intelligence; the ability to say something intelligent in a humorous or enjoyable manner.

Origin: IE weid-, to see -> weid, to know -> Old Eng wit, knowledge, intelligence

  • The Akbar-Birbal stories are famous because of Birbal’s wit.

Wiseacre: (n) a person who acts as if he is very wise.

Origin: Old High German wizag, knowledgeable

  • “I prefer simpletons to wiseacres,” Amrit Lal told me, his chest all puffed up with pride in his wisdom. His younger brother giggled behind his back. Later, he confirmed my suspicions that Amrit himself was a big wiseacre. “Once when we were small,” he said, “Papa misplaced his watch. Amrit got it into his head that it had been stolen and insisted on getting the confession out of me or our cousins about who had done it. When his browbeating yielded no results, he made us all declare one by one before the Lakshmi idol in our house that we had not stolen anything. He had read somewhere that if someone lied before God, his forehead immediately became black. Needless to say, nobody got a black forehead, and he had to let us go. Later, papa remembered where he had kept his watch and bade bhaaisahab did not know how to look at us again.”

Simpleton: (n) a foolish or silly person.

Origin: simple + - ton


Witticism: (n) a witty saying.

Origin: from wit.

  • Enjoy these witticisms by Oscar Wilde:
  • Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.
  • The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.
  • Whenever people agree with me I always feel I must be wrong.
  • When the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers.

Outwit: (v) outsmart

Origin: out + wit

  • The police had laid traps at every possible exit route, still the smugglers outwitted the police. Their diamonds crossed the city’s borders in a police jeep itself!
  • Movie: Hum Aapke Hain Kaun. Scene: Rajesh is getting married to Puja. Rajesh’s younger brother Prem has hidden Rajesh’s jooti in a big red cardboard box meant for laddoos. Puja’s younger sister Nisha discovers that and manages to distract Prem’s attention till two little girls have exchanged the cardboard box with another similar one which actually contains laddoos. The girls quickly hide the shoes and then come before Prem, their faces gloating with the pride of outwitting him. Little do they realize that they have been outwitted themselves. Prem’s dog Tuffy had followed the girls to their hiding place and had then led Prem to the same spot. The girls do not know that Prem has already exchanged the box in which they had kept the shoes with another red cardboard box containing a gajraa for the girls.

Unwitting: (adj) unintentional

Origin: un-, not + witting

  • Just before leaving, Kaanti bua said, “Kuchh kahaa sunaa maaf kar denaa. If I have unwittingly hurt anyone, then please forgive it as the foolishness of an old woman. May God bless you all.”

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