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Latin movere to move

The word ‘move’ is obviously from this root. ‘Emotion’ is something that is capable of moving you. To ‘remove’ somebody from the limelight is to move him back. We all go to movies. A ‘movie’ is called so because it is made of moving pictures. That is why movies are also called ‘motion’ pictures.


The ‘mobile’ that we cannot live without is properly called a mobile telephone, that is, movable telephone. A car is an ‘automobile’, a self-moving machine. Unlike a rickshaw or a cart, you don’t need to push it or pull it.

To ‘promote’ somebody is to move him forward. A ‘motive’ is the moving force behind a man’s action. To ‘motivate’ somebody is to set him moving towards his goal.


The other words from this root are:

Move re-1: mob, momentous, motif

Move re-2: motility, commotion, remote

IE ag- to drive, draw, move

“Aage jao beta,
 bahut aage jaao tum!”

Ram’s father gave him his enthusiastic blessings when he touched his feet. The young man had returned home after giving his final exams in engineering. Sharma ji felt so proud of him! He had been anexacting father, had never been lax on the question of discipline or studies and had dreamed of and demanded only the best for and from his son. And, Ram had more than lived up to his expectations; he had more than lived up to his name, his father smiled.


Two days later, police arrived at Sharma ji’s doorstep and told the flustered father that his son was being arrested for snatching the laptop, mobile and gold chain of a girl in the university and selling them. Sharma ji asked his servant to get Ram; the boy entered cheerfully but the moment he saw the policemen, became timorous. His trepidation proved his guilt to his father. He gave him one tight slap, then slapped his own forehead with the same hand, then shook the boy, standing like a statue with his head bowed-down, and asked him in great agitation that what had actuated him to do such ahorrendous deed? His son accused of larceny! “Bah!” he turned his face in disgust and then turned back and hit that knave of his son once more.

The inspector stepped forward and told the facts that he had gleaned from Ram’s friends and hostel mates. The boy had fallen into the company of profligate sons of rich men and so his own allowance had started seeming exiguous to him. He took to borrowing money from his friends, and when they closed their doors, from his juniors and the juniors of his juniors.

If any of them asked back for his money, he would browbeat them into silence. However, one boy remained intransigent. He threatened to report the matter to the warden if his money was not returned. Ram feared that the warden may report the matters to his father and so tackled that exigency by stealing instead.


Sharma ji did not know what to say or do. This was his son! The son that he had thought would bring light to his old age had, instead, brought litigation. His whole life’s hard work had gone waste, he thought with dismay.

Some of the words done through the story above belong to the Latin root agere, which means ‘to do, drive, move.’ The other words from this root are:

Agere-1: Act, action, active, actor, reactionary

Agere-2: actuary, agendum, agile, cogitate

Agere-3: essay, assay, cogent, coagulate

Agere-4: redact, retroactive and squat.

‘Retroactive’ amnesia is a type of memory loss in which the patient forgets some or all of the events that happened before the accident. However, their memory of the life after the accident will be intact and they will also be able to acquire new memories. This is the kind of amnesia that is usually shown in Hindi movies.

The opposite of this is anterograde amnesia. In this type, the accident victim remembers his past but cannot form fresh memories. So, if he has a brother who got married after his accident, he will remember his brother but will have to be told who the woman by his side is each time he meets the couple. The movies 50 First Dates and Ghajini are based on this condition.


Mob: (n) an uncontrolled, violent crowd.

Origin: from L mobilis vulgas, movable crowd of common people

  • The mob set three buses on fire.

Momentous: (adj) of great importance.

Origin: L movere, to move + -ment + -ous => ‘capable of moving something’ => ‘having power’

  • Einstein made momentous contributions to Physics.
  • 15 August, 1947 was a momentous day in Indian history.

Motif: (n) a recurring theme of a literary or an artistic work; the dominant image in a design.

Origin: from ‘motive’ ‘the idea or theme that moves a work of art’

  • “Show me some bedsheets,” the customer said. “Sure ma’am. Which kind of motifs will you like- geometric or flowers or animals? Just today, we’ve got a breathtaking piece with peacock motifs all over. Will you like to see it?”
  • The contrast between the Indian and the western culture was the leitmotif of the film.

Leitmotif: (n) the dominant theme of a literary or an artistic work; a musical theme associated with a specific character or situation.

Origin: German leiten, to lead + motiv, motif


Motility: (n) ability to move spontaneously.

Origin: L motus, motion

  • Drinking warm water improves intestinal motility in constipated patients.
  • Some bacteria have one or more flagellum which gives them motility. Non-motile bacteria lack this structure.

Flagellum: (n) a whip like appendage of certain unicellular organisms which helps them move.

Origin: L flagrum, whip.

To flagellate somebody is to beat him with a whip.


Commotion: (n) noisy disturbance.

Origin: L com-, together + movere, to move

  • The students made a great commotion when the teacher announced at the end of his lecture that he was taking the following lecture as well because the concerned lecturer was on leave. “Ok now, silence!” he ordered but seeing no effect, resolutely kept relaying his theories which kept getting lost in the student’s din.

Remote: (adj) far away, far removed from all activity.

Origin: L re-, back + motus, motion => ‘to remove’

  • The Superintendent of police came to his bedroom, changed his uniform, had a bath and went to sleep. Moments later, a bomb planted under his bed by gangsters was remotely detonated, killing him and destroying the room.
  • Most of the citizen-welfare policies of the government fail to reach the remote areas, where they are needed the most.

Exacting: (adj) demanding exact adherence to all rules and instructions.

Origin: L ex-, out + agere, to drive => ‘to drive out’

Related word: exactitude, the quality of being exact

  • “What age are you?” Jiya asked her cousin. The boy became lost in thought for a minute and then said, “I am ten years, three months, four days and ten hours old.” Jiya was amused by his exactitude.

Lax: (adj) relaxed, not strict, loose.


Timorous: (adj) one who becomes easily afraid.

Origin: L timere, to fear. Timid too is from this root.

  • In the movie Chaalbaz, Anju and Manju are two twins with totally opposite personalities. While Manju is bold and aggressive, Anju is a timorous girl whose lips quaver with fear each time she says something or someone talks to her.

Trepidation: (n) fear, anxiety.

Opposite: intrepid, meaning ‘fearless’

  • Bhagat Singh was an intrepid fighter for India’s independence.
  • In Mughal-e-Azam, Anarkali is shown to be so intrepid that she dares to sing ‘Jab pyaar kiya toh darna kya’ before Akbar, the emperor of India!

Agitate: (v) to move violently or with force; to upset.

Origin: L agere, to drive

  • The students agitated to get their demands accepted by the university authorities.
  • He was agitated by his failure to get the job that he had been confident of getting.

Actuate: (v) to motivate, to lead to an action.

Origin: L agere, to do -> actus, a thing done


Horrendous: (adj) horrible

  • The consequences of substance abuse are horrendous not only for the user, but also for the family. They are pained by the addict’s surrender of his dignity, the constant tension in the house saps their energy, the bank balance depletes, financial uncertainity loomspeople stop visiting them and they feel unable to face people.

Larceny: (n) theft

  • He was a shameless fellow who committed larceny in his own uncle’s house.

Knave: (n) an unprincipled, unreliable person.


Glean: (v) to collect slowly, little by little.


Profligacy: (n) wild wastage of money.

  • His profligacy ultimately forced the Rai Bahadur to turn his residential haveli into a hotel.

Exiguous: (adj) very little.

Origin: L ex-, out + agere, to draw => ‘to measure out and give the exact amount’ => ‘to give very little’

  • Child labourers are paid exiguous wages.

Browbeat: (v) to instil fear by giving angry looks or words.

Origin: brow + beat

  • Elder brothers and sisters are experts at browbeating their younger siblings into obedience.

Intransigent: (adj) refusing to compromise.

Origin: L in-, not + trans-, across + agere, to go => ‘not willing to go across’

  • The management’s intransigence towards the genuine demands of the workers forced the workers to go on strike.

Exigent: (adj) urgent; demanding.

Origin: L ex–, out + agere, to drive => ‘to drive out’ => ‘to demand’

  • Under exigent circumstances, when the police officers must act quickly and cannot go to the court to seek permission, they are allowed to arrest a person without warrant.
  • “I don’t wish to be exigent, Miss,” the stylish young man addressed the girl by whose seat in the train bogey he was passing. “…but if this is your trunk, it’s rather in the way here.”

Litigation: (n) law suit

Origin: L lis, law + agere, to go => ‘to go to law’


Dismay: (v) to disappoint; to destroy the courage by arousing doubt or fear.

  • Sheenam was dismayed at her boyfriend’s silence when his parents demanded a huge dowry from her parents and said that otherwise they could not marry their boy to her.

Reactionary: (adj) opposing progress.

Origin: L re-, back + actus, motion

  • A young Afghan woman defied the Taliban’s reactionary ban on female education by holding secret classes at her house. A man in her neighbourhood reported her to the Taliban. They publicly stoned her for ‘immorality’.

Actuary: (n) a statistician who evaluates how long a person will live and what is the risk to the insurance company in giving him insurance, etc.

Origin: L agere, to draw -> acta, accounts => ‘one who studies accounts.’

  • In India, one becomes an actuary by passing the examinations conducted by the Institute of Actuaries of India.

Agendum: (n) the to-do list.

Origin: L agere, to drive

  • the agenda of a meeting

Agile: (adj) active

Origin: L agere, to do

  • He amazed the gathering with his agility. Someone asked him what the product of pie (22/7) and square root of 29 was and he gave the answer within two seconds, before people had even managed to type in the multiplicants in their calculators. They were amazed when their calculators gave them the answer that he was correct, right to the ninth decimal place!
  • The agile monkey jumped from one high branch to the other.
  • The villain shot at the hero but the hero stepped aside with agility and half-a-second later, made an agile leap at the villain. Before the villain could understand what had happened within a second, the hero had thrown him to the ground and was battering his body.

Cogitate: (v) to think deeply; (n) cogitation: thought

Origin: L co-, +agere, to drive

  • In Victor Hugo’s short novel The Last Day of A Condemned Man, a man waiting for his execution writes down his cogitations, feelings and fears.

Assay: (v) to analyse, assess, to assess the purity of a metal

Origin: from ‘essay.’ Etymology of essay:

L ex-, out + agere, to drive => ‘to drive out’ => ‘to examine in detail.’

  • The king had heard so much about the bravery of his chief minister’s son that he was taken with a desire to assay the young man’s strength.
  • Gold is most commonly assayed by weighing a small sample accurately, melting it, separating the gold from the impurities in the molten state and then cooling the pure gold fraction and measuring it again.

Cogent: (adj) logical, convincing.

Origin: L co- + agere, to drive => ‘to drive together’ => ‘to collect, to compel’ => ‘compelling’

  • “No. I am going. Can you give me one cogent reason why I should not?” demanded the husband when his wife asked him not to go for his out-of-the-city business conference that morning. The wife sheepishly said, “I saw a very bad dream today.” “Well my dear, that is not a cogent reason why a man should not do his work,” he smiled and left.
  • The wife of the murdered man failed to give any cogent explanation for why one fourth of the dead body’s left ear was missing. The servant who had discovered the dead body had seen the ear intact. But by the time the police arrived- fifteen minutes- later the ear lobe was mutilated. No one except the man’s wife and the servant had been near the dead body in that duration.

Coagulate: (v) to curdle, to clot.

Origin: L co-, together + agere, to drive

  • Cheese is produced by coagulation of milk.
  • The clotting of blood at the site of an injury is also called coagulation.

Redact: (v) to revise or edit.

Origin: L re-, back + agere, to drive => ‘to drive back’

  • The Ramayana has been redacted many times since it was first written. Therefore, there exist many versions of the story.

Retroactive: (adj) effective from a past date.

Origin: L retro-, backward + active

  • In July 2010, the factory’s management increased the wages of the workers by 10% with retroactive effect from May 1, 2010.
  • The dam-affected villagers demanded retroactive compensation for the continued damage that the dam had done to their ecosystem and livelihood.

Squat: (v) to sit on one’s heels; (adj) short and thick.

  • Squatting is a good exercise and helps tone the leg muscles.
  • The teacher asked the naughty student to squat and hold his ears with arms taken from under his knees.
  • The house sat squat in the wheat fields, nothing more than a plain square cube of cement.
  • He was a short, squat man 

Anterograde: (adj) effective from the time the shock was received to the present.

Origin: L ante-, forward + gradi, to step => ‘to step forward’


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