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Do you know the Hindi version of LCM, the least common multiple? It is ‘laghutam’ samaapvartya. ‘Laghu’ udyog means small scale industry.


Laghu means light, little. In fact, the word ‘light’ itself is from the same root. As are ‘lungs’ (say legwh- through your nose) because they are so light-weight. The Latin cousin of these words is levis which means ‘light’. The root levare is derived from levis, and originally meant ‘to lighten.’ Since a lighter thing automatically rises upwards, the sense of ‘lifting up’ also became associated with levare.

A ‘lever’ is a simple machine that lifts up heavy weight. To ‘elevate’ something is to lift it up. In fact, we all use the words elevator and lift interchangeably for the machine that takes us up in high-rise buildings.


The other words from this root are listed below:

The light levare 1: levitatealleviateleaven

The light levare 2: levitylevylevee

Latin jocus play,merriment



‘Joke’ obviously comes from this root as does the ‘joker’ who makes us laugh with his zany antics. The (comparatively) less common words from this root are:


From its look and meaning, the word jocund seems related to the words above, but well, it isn’t. Its closeness to ‘joke’ serves as a good mnemonic though.


Levitate: (v) to float in the air, seemingly through magic; (n) levitation.

Origin: L levis, light

  • During the magic show, the magician levitated a girl to five feet above the ground.
  • Laghima siddhi enabled a yogi to levitate.

Alleviate: (v) lessen

Origin: L ad-, towards + levis, light => ‘take towards lightness’ => ‘lighten’

  • He went to his village in the vacations hoping that the fresh air would alleviate the persistent cough he had developed. 

Leaven: (v) to cause to rise, esp. through fermentation; (n) a substance, like yeast, which causes fermentation in dough or batter and causes it to rise.

Origin: L levis, light -> levare, to raise

  • Baking Powder is used to leaven breads, cakes and muffins.

Levity: (n) lightness of mind, behaviour or weight.

Origin: L levis, light

  • In the eponymous movie Anand, the protagonist, played by Rajesh Khanna, is a very ebullient character, whose cheerfulness is very infectious and leaves none unaffected. His best friend, Dr. Bhaskar Banerjee, just cannot understand how somebody whose remaining lifespan can be measured in weeks can show such levity.

Levy: (v) to impose a tax or fine or war; to conscript into wartime service.

Origin: L levis, light -> levare, to raise => ‘to raise funds or resources’

  • The school levied a fine of ` 100 on all the students who had missed the annual day function.

Levee: (n) a sloping boundary wall of a river which is built so as to make sure the river does not overflow and flood the adjacent lands.

Origin: L levare, to raise => ‘to raise the level of a river’s boundary’

  • The village was inundated when the abutting river breached its levee.

A levee is also called a dyke.


Zany: (adj) clownish

Antics: (n) playful or funny gestures.


Jocose: (adj) joking

Origin: L jocus, joke

  • Everyone loved him for his jocose manner. He was the life of every get-together and had a funny line ready for every person and every thing.

Jocular: (adj) joking, in the habit of joking.

Origin: L jocus, joke -> joculus, little joke. Joculus is a diminutive of jocus


Jeopardy: (n) risk; (v) jeopardize.

Origin: L jocus, play, game + partir, to divide into parts => ‘a divided game’ => ‘both sides are equal’ => ‘both chances are equally- can win,

can lose’ => ‘risky situation, whose outcome is uncertain.’

  • The smoker was told that smoking one more cigarette would put his life in jeopardy.
  • The minister jeopardized his life by going to negotiate with the terrorists without any security cover, as they had demanded.

Jocund: (adj) cheerful, happy.

  • Following the victory of India in the cricket World Cup, every street of the city was filled with jocund revelers dancing to the beats of drums and bursting firecrackers.

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