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Two thousand people were waiting for the Bihar-bound Vikramshila Express on Platform No 12 of the New Delhi Railway Station. Ten minutes before the train was due, it was announced that it would now come at Platform No. 13 and that Rajdhani Express, which was also due to arrive in five minutes, would arrive at Platform No. 12 instead of Platform No. 14. Thus, 3,000 people were told all of a sudden that they were standing on the wrong platform. They panicked and ran pell-mell towards the right platform. People jostled and shoved through the crowd with their luggage and children, trying to somehow cross the suffocating sea of humanity they were trapped in. The trains arrived. The passengers who were still far away from their platform became frantic and started pushing the people in front of them. A stampede resulted. Two women and a child were trampled over by the frenzied crowd. Two children and an old woman got lost in the melee. The trains left the station at the scheduled time, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded on the platform. The Railways, however, refused to accept culpability for the incident, saying that they could not be held responsible for people’s reactions. The Railways minister too exculpated the Railways likewise. Everything continued like before. Two years later, a similar incident recurred.


Latin medius middle

The Sanskrit words madhya and madhyam are cognates of medius. Medius is the root of middle, mediocre, mediate, intermediate and medium.



Latin post after

We all know that ‘post’ means after, don’t we? ‘Postgraduate’ studies are those that you do after graduating from college. Your father’s ‘post-retirement’ plans are his ideas about what he will do after he retires.


The words which have the root post are:

Posterior, posterity and preposterous

Latin radix root

The root of the plant Raphanus sativus is highly pungent. People all over Europe and Asia eat it raw and very often. What do you think do they call it? Raphanus sativus’ root? Nah, our tongue would trip over such a convoluted name. They simply call it radish, meaning ‘the root’. What do we call a radish in Hindi? Mooli. Mooli has come from mool, which also means ‘base, root.’


The word ‘eradicate’ literally translates into the Hindi idiom jadh se ukhaad dena. (L. e-, out).

The other words from this root are:


Latin cadere  to fall

The West is called the ‘Occident’, waterfalls are called cascades and some trees are called deciduous because of this root.


Miscellaneous: (adj) having a mixture of different kinds of elements.

Origin: L miscere, to mix

  • This chapter is titled ‘Miscellany’ because it contains roots denoting absolutely different and unrelated ideas.

Promiscuous: (adj) having casual sexual relations with many partners; (n) promiscuity.

Origin: L pro-, forward + miscere, to mix => ‘one who mixes enthusiastically with people of opposite sex’

  • The Mughal emperors were highly promiscuous. For example, Emperor Jahangir had a harem of 300 wives and 5000 concubines!
  • Another way of saying this: Promiscuity was a way of life for Mughal emperors.

Meddle: (v) to interfere unwantedly.

Origin: L miscere -> Fr mesler, meddler, to mix => ‘one who mixes himself in others’ affairs uninvited’

  • Kushal’s neighbours had the habit of meddling in other people’s lives. They considered it their right to know the full details about what was happening or not happening to whom and to give their advice on even the most personal problems. She was shocked when her landlord aunty asked her how much she earned and if she would like to consider a boy that she had looked for her. “Imagine! My landlord is hunting boys for me!” Kushal exclaimed to her colleagues that day. “Really, I am tired of these meddlesome neighbours.”

Medley: (n) mixture of different types of elements.

Origin: L miscere -> Fr mesler, meddler, to mix => ‘a mixture’

  • The DJ at the dance party played a medley of hit Hindi, Punjabi and English songs.

Melee: (n) confusion created by a group of people fighting or by the simultaneous movement of a crowd.

Origin: L miscere -> Fr mesler, to mix => ‘a mixture of people’

  • An argument over parking space between two neighbours—Kuber Sharma and Alok Shrivastva—escalated into a major melee when the brothers of Sharma joined him and physically roughed up Alok. Alok then called his friends who came brandishing hockey sticks and shattered the windows of Sharma’s car. Fearing further violence, the neighbours called the police.

Pell mell: (adv) in a confused, crowded rush.

Origin: Fr pesle mesle, pesle is written just to rhyme with mesle, a derivative of mesler, to mix


Melange: (n) a mixture.

Origin: Fr mesler, to mix

  • The musical CD was a mélange of folk music, hip hop, blues and jazz. Just like in Hindi, the word ‘milaanaa’- to mix- is a derivative of mishran, similarly, mélange and melee are derivatives of miscere.

Shove: (v) push


Culpability: (n) blame

Origin: L culpa, blame

A person who is blamed for a crime is called a ‘culprit’.


Exculpate: (v) to free from blame.

Origin: L ex-, out + culpa, blame


Mediocre: (adj) neither good nor bad; one whose performance lies on the middle of the scale.

Origin: L medius, middle


Mediate: (v) to act between two parties and try to bring them to agreement; (n) mediation, mediator.

Origin: L medius, middle => ‘to come in the middle’

  • India has repeatedly rejected USA’s offer of mediation in the Indo-Pak dispute over Kashmir.
  • India says it needs no mediators for the Indo-Pak dispute over Kashmir.

Intermediate: (adj) coming in between.

Origin: L inter-, between + medius, middle => ‘coming in the middle, between two things.’

  • Intermediate school is that which comes between primary school and high school. In India, classes 4-6 are considered intermediate school.
  • A person who acts as a go-between for two parties is called an intermediary.

Medium: (n) something that lies in between; a means of communication; liquid or solid nutriet material in which microbes can grow.

Origin: L medius, middle


Posterior: (n) the buttocks; (adj) coming after in time or order; placed at the back.

Origin: L post, after -> posterus, coming after

  • Is the heart posterior to the spinal cord? No. It is anterior to the spinal cord.

Anterior: (adj) coming before in time or order.

Origin: L ante, before

  • The front side of an animal’s body is called its anterior, and the back side is called its posterior.

Posterity: (n) future generations.

Origin: L post, after -> L posterus, coming after => ‘those who will come after you”


Preposterous: (adj) extremely stupid.

Origin: L pre-, before+ posterus, coming behind => ‘that which should come behind is coming before’ => ‘contrary to common sense,


  • In the Hindi movie Bunty aur Babli, Bunty and Babli con the seventh richest man of the world by selling the Taj Mahal to him. “I can’t believe that someone is selling the Taj Mahal,” the foolish rich man exclaims. “I can’t believe that someone is actually buying,” quips Bunty. About 170 years ago, The East India Company too had got the idea of selling the Taj Mahal. And, do you know the preposterous manner in which they decided to do it? They planned to dismantle the Taj Mahal and auction its marble! Luckily for us, that auction did not take place and the Taj was saved for posterity.

Dismantle: (v) to take apart, take to pieces; strip of covering, furniture or equipment.

Radical: (adj) related to the root or origin, fundamental; advocating fundamental change; extreme; (n) a person who advocates fundamental


Origin: L radix, root => ‘related with the root’

  • The Human Resources Minister brought radical changes in the education system of India, like abolishing Board exams for class 10th.
  • The radical student leader declared that his organization rebelled against all forms of authority. The university authorities banned the radicals from holding any protests on the university campus.

Irradicable: (adj) ineradicable, that which cannot be uprooted.

Origin: L ir-, im-, not + radix, root + -able

  • Poverty seems to be irradicable in India. Politicians have been promising to eradicate it since Independence but the tree of poverty remains as robust as ever.

Deracinate: (v) to uproot; to take away someone from the culture in which his roots lie.

Origin: L radix, root -> Fr. racine, root. So, de-, dis-, away + racine, root => ‘to pull out from the roots.’

  • The American NRI worried that his children, who had come to the US very young, would grow up into deracinated individuals who had no idea about the culture they belonged to. 

Cascade: (n) a waterfall, a series of small, step-like waterfalls; (v) to fall like a waterfall.

Origin: L cadere, to fall -> casicare, to fall-> It. Cascata, waterfall -> Fr. cascade

  • When Shrimati saw water cascading down the stairs, she realized that the water tank on the terrace was overflowing.
  • An artificial cascade was built by the driveway of the hotel. 

Deciduous: (adj) trees which shed their leaves in a particular season or at a particular point of their growth.

Origin: L de-, down + cadere, to fall => ‘trees whose leaves fall down’


Cadence: (n) rhythm

Origin: L cadere, to fall => ‘rise and fall’ => ‘rhythm’

  • The easy cadence with which the boatman rowed the boat and the concomitant rippling of the water inspired a poem in the mind of the poet who was sitting in the boat.
  • A runner has an average cadence of 180 steps per minute.
  • Cadence is what separates a poem from prose. The rhythmic quality of a poem is called its cadence.

Cadaver: (n) dead body; (adj) cadaverous.

Origin: L cadere, to fall down => ‘to die’

Synonym: corpse

  • The frail, cadaverous man lived alone in the mansion.

Caducity: (n) mental and physical weakness resulting from old age.

Origin: L cadere, to fall => ‘tendency to fall down’


Render: (v) to give, to make.

Origin: L re-, back + dare, to give => ‘to give back’

  • A violent storm killed 80 people in east Bihar and rendered thousands homeless. Many NGOs and independent volunteers rendered aid to the storm victims.

The word ‘surrender’ too has ‘render’ in it. It is made of L sub- + render => ‘to give up’

Another related word is rendition, the noun form of ‘render.’

(n) the act of delivering something; one’s own version of an artistic work; a translation.

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