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Greek demos   people


Abraham Lincoln famously defined democracy as ‘a government of the people, by the people, for the people.’ The word ‘democracy’ is made from demos, people, and kratos, rule.

The other members of the demos family are:

Demos-1: demography, demotic

Demos-2: demagogue, demophobia

Demos-3: endemic, epidemic, pandemic

Greek archaein to be the first

Your ‘archrival’ is your Rival Number One. Then there are archaic words like ‘thee’ and ‘thou’, archaeological sites like Harappa and Mohenjodaro and archetypal ill-fated lovers like Devdas and Majnu.


The Greek word ptero means ‘feather, wing.’ Notice its similarity to the Persian par. The one with par is called pari.

Poor ptero, however, does not get to name such beautiful creatures. It names instead the ancient pterodactyl and ‘archaeopteryx’ (‘the first bird’). Paleontologists regard birds as the descendants of dinosaurs, and archaeopteryx is seen as the species where this shift took place, from theterrestrial dinosaurs to the aerial birds. It had the claws, head teeth, abdominal ribs and bony tail of a dinosaur, and the feathers and brain of a bird.


From the first birds, let us move to the First Citizens. India is a democracy and all citizens are equal, but the one who stands in front and leads us all, the head of the state, is the first citizen. He is the President (The President of course is only the titular head of the state; most of the authority vested in him is actually exercised by the Prime Minister and his cabinet). It is the sense of being ‘the first citizen, the ruler’ that is found in the archaein words like:


Archaien-1: matriarchy, patriarch, monarch

Archaein-2: oligarchy, plutarchy, hierarchy

Archaein-3: anarchy, anarchist, archives.

Latin regere to lead straight

The one who leads, or is supposed to lead, his country onto the straight path is called a ‘rajah’ in Sanskrit and ‘regis’ in Latin.


The words related to His Highness are:

Regis is raja-1: regal, regime

Regis is raja-2: regimen, regicide

Regis is raja-3: interregnum, regent, realm

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