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Savitri Devi already had eight granddaughters. When the exhausted Lajwanti got pregnant again, the doctor advised her to abort the child. Savitri flared up. How dare he say that? She was yet to get her grandson! Poor health or not, Lajwanti could not stop before giving to her, her grandson. After all, one needed to perpetuate one’s family name, or not? What did these doctors know? Swearing under her breath, she showed him the door.


Now, that we know petere quite well, let me spill the beans. It is a cousin of Hindi words patta (leaf, because leaves fall), paat (a falling, e.g. garbhpaat, miscarriage), patan (downfall, decline), patit (a fallen, depraved person), paataal (the place where the patit go post death), patak (a fall), patakna (to throw down, to enforce a fall), pataak (the crashing sound that such a fall produces) and pataaka (a cracker which makes a sound quite like pataak).

Latin gratus pleasing,thankful

When we ‘congratulate’ somebody, we tell him that we are together with him in his moment of pleasure. The word ‘agree’ is formed from the Latin phrase a gre which means ‘to (one’s) pleasure.’ When you agree to do something, the etymology suggests that you will be pleased to do it. An ‘agreeable’ fellow is the one who is pleasant to have around.The word ‘grace’ too has the same root. A ‘graceful’ lady has a pleasing way of talking and moving.

A grateful man is thankful to you and ‘gratitude’ is thankfulness.


Gratus-1: gratuitousgratuitygratis

Gratus-2: gratifyingrateingratiate

Latin placare to please

The word ‘please’ itself is formed from this root, as are:

Placare pleases-1: pleasant, pleasure, placid
Placare pleases-2: placebocomplacentcomplaisant


When we try to calm someone who is very angry at us, by doing things that we know will please him, we are trying to placate him. One who refuses to be thus placated is implacable.

IE gwer-  heavy

The Sanskrit prefix guru- means heavy, venerable. The man who is heavy with knowledge and with spiritual wisdom is called a ‘Guru’. The heaviness, the weight that all things feel, due to Earth’s attraction, is called gurutva.

The Latin member of the family is gravis, meaning heavy, weighty. Gravis is the root of ‘grief’, a heaviness of heart, and ‘gravity’, the English counterpart of gurutva.


The other words from this heavy root are:


IE legwh-  light

The ancient Hindu yogis meditated in the jungles or the high mountains. After eons of austerities and strict control over all their desires, the gods rewarded them with siddhis, psychic powers. One of these siddhis was the laghima siddhi, which enabled the yogi to become so light-weight that he could waft in the air like a feather.


Perpetuate: (v) to make everlasting, to save from extinction.

Origin: verb form of perpetual

Gratuitous: (adj) free, without payment; done without any cause or justification.

Origin: L gratus, thankful-> gratuitus, that which makes one thankful => ‘that which is freely given’

  • The gratuitous violence in the movie made me sick. The movie was about two trigger-happy gangsters who went around shooting people gratuitously and then bragged about their murder count in bars and dance clubs.
  • The buses in India often display this board to warn gratuitous passengers: Bina ticket sawaari karne pe 10 guna zurmaana. (Thepassengers found travelling without ticket will be fined upto 10 times the fare.)

Gratuity: (n) a gift, usually in the form of money, given to appreciate a service received. It is over and above the billed payment.

Origin: L gratuitus, freely given => ‘gift’

  • The tip given to a waiter in a restaurant is an example of gratuity.

Gratis: (adv) without charge.

Origin: L gratus, thankful -> gratia, kindness, favor

  • A team of doctors from the big hospital held a medical camp in the nearby slums and treated the patients there gratis.

Gratify: (v) please, satisfy.

Origin: L gratus, pleasing

  • “I was gratified to be able to answer promptly. I said ‘I don’t know’.” Mark Twain
  • The restaurant offered many options to gratify one’s sweet tooth—rabdi, phirnee, rasmalai, halwa, gulab jamun, kulfi and many flavoursof ice cream.
  • Some people believe in instant-gratification. They bother little about saving or investing and say ‘kal kisne dekha hai. Aaj maza loot lo.’

The wiser people however delay gratification in the short term in order to enjoy greater rewards in the long term.


Ingrate: (adj) an ungrateful person.

Origin: L in-, not + grateful

  • Some people regard the IITians who settle abroad as ingrates who leave the country after receiving a subsidized higher education.
  • Old age homes are a refuge for aged men and women who are abandoned by ingrate families.

Ingratiate: (v) to make someone like you by using charm, flattery, etc.

Origin: L in gratiam, in favour => ‘to bring yourself into favor of someone’

  • Though Kanav wished to be liked by Peehu, he did not ingratiate himself by prefiguring what she would like to hear and saying just that.
  • Rishi too liked Peehu and he tried to ingratiate himself to her by helping her with her plans to organize financial aid for the students of the blind school near their college.

Placid: (adj) calm, undisturbed.

Origin: L placare, to please => ‘pleasant’ => ‘gentle’

  • Peehu looked placid. That was why people thought she was fine. They never knew she carried a broken heart inside.

Placebo: (n) a substance which is not actually a medicine but which is given to a patient because he believes very strongly that it will cure him.

Origin: L placebo, I will please => ‘I will do you good.’ Compare, nocebo


Complacent: (adj) too pleased with oneself or one’s situation, self-satisfied.

Origin: L com- + placere, to please => ‘pleased’

  • It is said that it is easier to reach the top than to stay there. People often become complacent after success and stop working as hard as they did before. Then, one day, they realize with a shock that the Number 1 position has been yanked away from them by someone who had been assiduously improving himself while they were busy basking in their success.

Complaisant: (adj) eager to please; someone who happily does what you tell him to because he wants to please you.

Origin: L com- + placere, to please

  • The groom’s family dictated their conditions to the complaisant bride’s family.
  • The complaisant newspaper did not report any anti-government news.

Placate: (v) to calm down an angry person, especially by doing something which you know will please him.

Origin: L placare, to please

  • The villagers were protesting against the local police inspector who had beaten a young boy to death in custody. In order to placate them, the State Minister of Home Affairs suspended the inspector and instituted an enquiry into the matter. He assured them that if found culpable, the inspector would be punished severly. 

Implacable: (adj) impossible to placate.

Origin: L im-, not + placate + able

  • Rajeev was not sure that his implacable stepbrother would help him in any way.
  • Thakur Gajendra Singh’s brother loved Thakur Surya Pratap’s sister but refused to marry her. Distraught, the girl killed herself. Surya Pratap’s younger brother avenged her by killing her recreant lover. Ever since then, the two families were implacable enemies.

Venerable: (adj) commanding great respect. The great respect that you feel for such a person is called veneration. Reverence is a synonym

of veneration. Venerable old man, venerable sadhu, venerable Bhagwad Gita


Grave: (adj) serious

Origin: L gravis, heavy => ‘not light’ => ‘serious’

After the medical examination, the doctor looked grave. “I am sorry,” he told the patient. “You have stomach cancer and have only

three months to live.”

The increasing cost of fighting an election is a grave issue and needs to be tackled immediately. Otherwise, soon only the rich will be

able to fight elections and so, only they will get elected to the Parliament and India will effectively become a plutocracy.


Gravid: (adj) pregnant

Origin: L gravis, heavy

qqThe sky was black with pited-up clouds gravid with ran.


Aggravate: (v) to make worse or more serious, to irritate.

Origin: L ad-, towards + gravis, heavy => ‘to take towards heaviness’ => ‘to add to the weight of ’


Waft: (v) float

qqThe fragrance of the roses wafted across the lawn.

qqAs the girls walked towards the mandap, a few petals of marigold wafted down on them from somewhere.

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