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Latin ponere to put, place

When somebody ‘proposes’ a project or a relationship, he ‘puts that idea before’ his company or his sweetheart. When the nexus between the underworld and Bollywood is ‘exposed’, it is ‘put out’ in the full view of the whole world. A well-put remark is apposite or apropos. On the other hand are malapropisms like the ones below, whose ill-fitting words make us laugh.

  • “I do not like olive-eaters,” Mrs. Chadha declared. “I can climb my own stairs.” (Instead of elevators)
  • “What does she think of herself?” the young Bubbly Chadha complained about Pinky Panesar, her Enemy Number One at school. “She is not the only one who can win a prize. I too have many tail-ends!” (Instead of, well, talents)
  • The moment Runju got the question paper, she failed; she had prepared for English and it was the Science paper! (Instead of paled)
  • Business respects punctured people. (Instead of punctual)
  • Motu Bhai started painting after climbing just five steps. (Instead of panting)

The other words which are in the business of putting and placing things are:

Ponere-1: postpone, componentcomposure

Ponere-2: compound, decomposedepose

Ponere-3: depositiondispositionpredispose

Ponere-4: exposition, exposure, interpose

Ponere-5: postureimpostureposeur

Ponere-6: proponentpropoundexpoundrepository

Ponere-7: superimpose, supposition, supposititious

Greek thesis a placing

A ‘thesis’ submitted by a scholar is a proposition that he places before the academic world for consideration and debate. A placing together of all the parts so as to make a whole is called ‘synthesis’.


To insert an explanatory note within the brackets () is to put it in ‘parenthesis’. The word is formed from para-, beside+ en-, in + thesis, placing and therefore it means ‘a placing in, besides the main text.’


The following words too are from the same root:

Thesis-1: HypothesisAntithesisProsthesis

Thesis-2: EpithetAnathema

IE sta- to stand

This root really deserves the deepest reverence and obeisance from all Indians. We owe to it the name of our nation! The Persian suffix –stan means ‘place where one stays, home, country.’ Hindustan has it as do Pakistan, Afghanistan and so many other countries, and even some states like Balochistan and Rajasthan.


The Sanskrit words sthal or sthan (station), sthanu (a pillar; trunk of a tree), sthapan (setting up), sthayi (permanent, stable), sthir (stable, steady) and sthiti (state) are from this root.


The word ‘stand’ originated in old England and was not derived from any other language. ‘Understand’ came from the notion of ‘standing under’, therefore, knowing well.


The Latin word for standing is ‘stare’; it has begotten the following English words:

Stare-1: Stage, stancestanch

Stare-2: status, statutestatutory

Stare-3: distant, extantobstetric

Stare-4: constant, restivesubstantiate

Stare-5: stationary, insubstantialsubstantive

Stare-6: circumstances, oustconstituent


A ‘stage’ is the place where you stand. Your ‘status’ is your standing in the society. A ‘distant’ relative is one who stands quite apart from you on the scale of closeness in blood. A ‘constant’ thing is that which stands firmly. A ‘stationary’ car is a standing car. ‘Circumstances’ are the conditions or details that stand around a person.


If Latin is here, can Greek be far behind? The Greek root for ‘standing’ is stasis and is found in:


System, apostasyecstasyepistemology

The sys- in ‘system’ is a variant of syn-, together, before ‘s’. So, a system is a group of parts that stand together.


Below are presented a medley of words coming from a medley of roots, all belonging to the sta- family:


Hindustan ki Kasam-1: Steadfast, Stalwart, armistice

Hindustan ki Kasam-2: stoicobstinatedestitute

Hindustan ki Kasam-3: restitutesuperstitiondesist

Hindustan ki Kasam-4: subsistenceintersticesolstice

Latin testis a witness

The word testis is a compound of tres-, meaning three, and –stis, to stand. Therefore, testis means ‘a third person who was standing by’ when the fight between the two parties was going on. When one of them contests the claims of the other in the court, this third person is called to ascertain what had actually happened. To ‘testify’ is to bear witness to something, which is exactly what attest means too.


The courts do not rely on a single witness. They abide by the axiom: testis unis, testis nullus—one witness is no witness.

A will which does not have the signatures of at least two witnesses is considered invalid. It is also important that none of the witnesses should be a beneficiary of the will; if a witness is found to benefit from abequest, his testimony is said to have vested interests, and the will is rejected. A person who makes a valid will in the presence of acceptable witnesses is, therefore, called a ‘testator’. On the other hand, a person who dies without making a will, or a valid will, is said to die intestate.

After making his will, a person may think of many “ifs” and “buts” and “howevers.” Codicil rushes in to accommodate all such afterthoughts, because that will enable her to be attached to her beloved Will, and then, she dreamily imagines, the Will and the Codicil will live happily ever after!


‘Testis’, the male reproductive gland, also derives its name from this root, presumably because it bears witness to the virility of a man.


Apposite: (adj) appropriate

Origin: L ad-, to + ponere, to put => ‘well-put’


Apropos: (adj) fitting; relevant.

Origin: Fr a propos, to the purpose

  • When his wife asked him why he had drunk, the husband replied, “My best friend got promoted today, darling. So it was apropos that we had a little celebration.”
  • The phrase ‘apropos of ’ means ‘in relation with’ or ‘in reference to.’

Malapropism: (n) funny use of a similar sounding but inappropriate word.

Origin: L mal-, bad + apropos


Component: (n) an element which along with other elements makes the whole.

Origin: L com-, together + ponere, to place


Composure: (n) mental calmness.

Origin: L com-, together + ponere, to place


Decompose: (v) to break down into its components.

Origin: L de-, down + component


Depose: (v) to remove from office.

Origin: L de-, down + ponere, to put

  • Shah Jahan was deposed and immured by his own son, Aurangzeb.

Deposition: (n) testimony given in court on oath.

Origin: L de-, down + ponere, to put down => ‘to put down one’s statement’

  • In the surgeon’s deposition, it was stated that the posterior third of the left parietal bone of the dead man had been shattered by a heavy blow from a blunt weapon.

Disposition: (n) one’s tendency or temperament; arrangement or distribution

Origin: L dis-, apart + ponere, to set => ‘to set in different places.’

  • He had a disposition to take everything lightly.
  • The disposition of the loot jewellery proved difficult for the thieves because all the jewellers had been alerted by the police.

Predispose: (v) to give an inclination beforehand.

Origin: L pre-, before + dispose

  • He was predisposed to diabetes because everyone in his mother’s family had the disease.

Exposition: (n) showing clearly.

Origin: L ex-, out + ponere, to put

  • The professor gave an exposition of Weber’s theory of suicide.

Interpose: (v) to put in between; to come in between.

Origin: L inter, between + ponere, to put

  • When the fight between the two brothers seemed to be worsening, their mother interposed.

Posture: (v) to assume a particular position or posture.

Origin: L ponere, to put

  • The film director postured that his film would give the people a new point of view for the country’s problems.

Imposture: (v) to assume a fake identity.

Origin: L im-, in + ponere, to put => ‘to put oneself in another’s position’

  • The admit cards to most examinations contain a photograph of the candidate in order to prevent imposture.

Poseur: (n) one who pretends.

  • The man said that he was a prince from Himachal Pradesh but everybody knew that he was a poseur from his total lack of knowledge and princely sophistication.

Proponent: (n) supporter

Origin: L pro-,forward + ponere, to put

  • The proponents of the women’s reservation bill held demonstrations and protests to put pressure on the government to table the bill.
  • When the government did present the bill, the opponents of the bill started holding demonstrations and protests.

Propound: (v) to put forth.

Origin: L pro-, forward + ponere, to put

  • The Mughal emperor Akbar propounded a syncretic religion called Din-e-Ilahi, which combined the best principles of Islam,
  • Hinduism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism and Christianity.

Expound: (v) to explain; to make a detailed statement.

Origin: L ex-, out + ponere, to put

  • In his lectures, the philosopher expounded his principles.

Repository: (n) store house.

Origin: L re-, back + ponere, to put

  • Libraries are repositories of the world’s knowledge.
  • The National Museum of Art is a repository of the best art works produced in the country.

Superimpose: (v) to put one over the other.

Origin: L super-, over + im-, on + ponere, to put

  • The child superimposed a thin paper over the drawing in the book and drew the outlines of the drawing.

Supposititious: (adj) supposed, hypothetical.

Origin: L sub-, under + ponere, to put

  • The theory held true for every suppostitious scenario the philosopher could think of. So he thought it would apply to the real world too.

Hypothesis: (n) a theoretical assumption.

Origin: Gk hypo, under + thesis, a placing


Antithesis: (n) a contrast, an opposite.

Origin: Gk anti-, opposite + thesis, a placing

  • This statement is an example of antithesis: ‘He had said he would top in the exam. He failed.’
  • His actions were antithetical to his statements.

Prosthesis: (n) an artificial device which replaces a missing or a dysfunctional body part. It may be implanted or external; (Adj) prosthetic.

Origin: Gk pro-, forward + thesis, a placing.

  • Prosthetic limbs help amputees lead normal lives.

Epithet: (n) a word or phrase which tells about a defining characteristic of a person or a place and is used along with or instead of that person’s or place’s name.

  • There were two Motu Chands in the locality. So, the residents distinguished them from their epithets—Motu Chand, mochi and Motu Chand, nikamma.

Anathema: (n) curse; something that is greatly disliked.

Origin: L ana-, up + thesis, to place => ‘to place upon’

  • The idea of leaving his motherland to earn money elsewhere was anathema to the young man. His grandfather had gone to jail for the freedom of this country, how could he leave it?
  • The old man heaped anathema upon all the politicians who had willingly kept his beloved country backward and poor in order to fill their own pockets.

Obeisance: (n) respect

  • The followers paid obeisance to the guru by touching his feet.

Stance: (n) stand

  • India repeated its stance on the Kashmir issue to the Pakistan ambassador.

Stanch: (v) to stop flow of.

Origin: related with ‘stand’

  • The heroine tore her dupatta to stanch the gushing wound of the hero.

Statute: (n) law

Origin: L stature, to set up

  • The dictator amended the statute of his country in order to give himself the power to postpone democratic elections indefinitely.
  • Company statutes required that the board should have an odd number of members.

Statutory: (adj) related with law; required by law.

  • All cigarette packets carry the statutory warning that cigarette smoking is injurious to health.

Extant: (adj) existent

Origin: L ex-, out + stare, to stand => ‘standing out’ => ‘existent.’

  • The new Railway minister announced a number of new trains and increased the frequency of the extant trains.

Obstetric: (adj) related with childbirth. The branch of medicine that deals with the care of women during pregnancy and childbirth is called ostetrics.

Origin: L ob-, by + stare, to stand => ‘the one who stands by during childbirth’ => ‘the mid-wife’

  • In India, obstetrics has traditionally been practiced by midwives (daais). Even today, more than 50 per cent of deliveries in the country are conducted by them.

Restive: (adj) uneasily restless, usually under forced confinement or pressure.

Origin: L re-, back + stāre, to stand => ‘to keep back.’

  • ‘Restive’ applies specifically to the impatience of somebody who has been kept back by coercion or restriction, and is not a general synonym for ‘restless.’ Restless of course is from the same root, and means ‘unable to stand back.’

Substantiate: (v) add substance to; make stronger; give evidence for.

  • The judge asked the witness if he could substantiate his claims with evidence.

Insubstantial: (adj) not having much substance, not much in size or amount.

Origin: L in-, not + substantial.

  • Over the years, there has been only an insubstantial growth in the revenues of the company while the costs have increased substantially.
  • In short, the company is running in losses.
  • Substantial: (adj) having lot of substance, quite big in size or amount.

Substantive: (adj) quite big in size or amount or value or importance.

“While a confession is substantive evidence against its maker, it cannot be used as substantive evidence against another person, even if the latter is a co-accused. It can, however, be used as a piece of corroborative material to support other substantive evidence.” The Supreme Court of India


Oust: (v) to push out from a position or place.

Origin: L ob-, against + stare, to stand => ‘to stand against’ => ‘oppose’ => ‘to remove’

  • The Indians ousted the British from India.

Constituent: (n) a person who has the power to elect his representatives; a component of the whole.

Origin: L con-, + statuere, to set up => ‘one who sets up something’ => ‘one who sets up a democratic system’ => ‘one who sends his representatives to the legislature.’

  • In a democracy, every politician has to keep his constituents happy if he wishes to be re-elected by them.
    Oxygen and Hydrogen are constituents of water.

Apostasy: (n) turning totally away from one’s earlier, passionate beliefs. A person who does this is an apostate.

Origin: Gk apo-, away + sta-, to stand => ‘to stand away’

  • When Raj Sharma met his old classmate Diwakar Prabhat after 20 years, he was shocked at how drastically the man had changed.
  • Prabhat used to be a dedicated socialist during college, had even endured beatings by the police for protesting about workers’ rights, used to talk about dedicating his life to bringing a social revolution. And now, the same man was an industrialist like any other and milked his workers to the core. “What an apostasy!” Raj muttered.
    Diwakar Prabhat was an apostate.

Ecstasy: (n) the highest state of happiness; intense delight.

Oriign: Gk ec-, out of + stasis,to place => ‘to place out of the normal state of mind’

  • The whole family was ecstatic to hear that Neha had topped the city in the CBSE exams. They hugged each other and their darling, darling Neha in ecstasy.

Epistemology: (n) the philosophy of knowledge.

Origin: Gk epi-, over + sta-, to stand => ‘to stand over’ => ‘to understand’

  • Epistemology deals with questions like: What is knowledge? What is truth? How do we know what we know? Is knowledge the same as belief? Is truth the same as belief?

Stalwart: (n) very strong, long time firm supporter of a cause or a party.

Origin: Old Eng stathol, foundation (that on which a body stands) + weorth, worthy => ‘a valuable foundation’ => ‘one who has become the foundation of a cause or a party’

  • He was a stalwart of the party. He was only 16 when he had become its member and had remained loyal to it his whole life, through all its ups and downs.
    1568 Stoic: (adj) unmoved by grief or joy, calmly accepting them both.
    Origin: Gk sta-, to stand -> stoa, a porch. The Greek philosopher Zeno used to teach his disciples under a porch known as Stoa Poikile. His doctrine came to be called Stoicism. A stoic person is one who seems to follow this doctrine. Zeno used to teach his followers that God made everything happen for the best and one’s happiness depended not on external things but on one’s virtue. So, one should not get overly disturbed by occurences which are beyond one’s control or by loss of material things.
  • In the midst of his argument, the lawyer received a telegram. He read it, kept the missive on the table, and continued his advocacy. After the hearing was over, he picked up his stuff, handed it over to his subordinate and instructed him to handle the office in his absence; he was rushing to his village because his wife had died that morning. The junior was amazed at how stoically the man had borne such a huge loss.

Obstinate: (adj) stubborn

Origin: L ob-, by + stare, to stand => ‘one who keeps standing by’ => ‘one who refuses to go’

  • The mother tried hard to convince the child not to eat an ice-cream in the freezing cold but he was obstinate.

Destitute: (n) a person who is so poor that he has no food, clothes or shelter.

Origin: L stare, to stand -> statuere, to place + de-, away => ‘to place away’ => ‘to abandon’

  • In every city of India, one can see destitutes sleeping on the streets.

Restitute: (v) to restore to form condition; to refund.

Origin: L re-, back + statuere, to place => ‘to place back’

  • The consumer court ordered the educational consulting company to make a restitution of 1 lakh to the consumer who had complained about its unsatisfactory service.

Superstition: (n) illogical but strongly held belief that certain things or occurences are good omens and others are bad omens.

Origin: L super-, beyond + statuere, to set =>

  • The superstitious man left home after eating sweet curd, because that was supposed to ensure his success in the interview. However, he was nervously back home in 10 minutes. A black cat had crossed his way and that was a bad omen.

Desist: (v) to stop.

Origin: L stare, to stand -> sistere, to stand + de-, away => ‘to stay away from’

  • The college strictly ordered its students to desist from ragging the freshers.

Subsistence: (n) existence

Origin: L sub-, under + sistere, to stand => ‘to support from beneath so that the structure can keep standing’

  • A vast majority of Indian farmers are still trapped in subsistence agriculture—they produce foodgrains only for consumption. Their economic betterment is not possible till they are enabled to get out of the rut of subsistence agriculture and start producing crops that they can sell.

Interstice: (n) in-between space.

Origin: L inter, between + sistere, to stand => ‘the stand, the stop in between’ => ‘a break’

  • Imagine a bundle of 125 balls arranged in a 3-D lattice of 5*5*5. Can you see the empty space between any two consecutive balls? That is what an interstice is.
  • Sometimes, when you click on a weblink on a website, you first get a page of advertisement or a page that asks you to submit your details. It is only when you close this page or fulfil its requirements that you are taken to the link that you had originally clicked. Such a page that sits in between the referencing and the referenced webpages is called an interstitial webpage, or simply, an interstitial.

Solstice: (n) the two days of the year when the sun is the farthest from the equator.

Origin: L sol-, sun + sistere, to stand => ‘the sun appears to stand still’

  • Equinox occurs on March 20 or 21 and September 22 or 23. Solstice occurs on June 21 or 20 and December 21 or 22.
    Compare Solstice with Equinox.

Contest: (v) to argue or struggle against somebody.

Origin: L con- + testis, witness => ‘to call witnesses to support one’s claims => ‘to be a part of a dispute’


Attest: (v) to confirm to be true.

Origin: L ad-, to + testis, witness => ‘to be a witness to’

  • A proliferation of gyms in every city and town attests that Indians are becoming aware of the importance of weight management and staying healthy.

Axiom: (n) a statement whose truth is so obvious that no proof is needed for it.

  • The statement that only one line can pass through two given points is an axiom.

Bequest: (n) the act of handing over personal property by will; a property received by will.

A related word is bequeath.

Bequeath: (v) to give personal property by will.

  • A will gives full details and location of the properties which are being bequeathed by the testator. It also states how the testator had acquired those properties, that is, whether they were inherited or self-acquired. The testator can bequeath his property to anybody he wishes, and in any ratio among the different beneficiaries of the bequest.

Testimony: (n) statement given by a witness under oath in a court.

Origin: L testis, witness + -mony, state => ‘state of being a witness’


Intestate: (adj) a person who has not made a will.

Origin: L in-, no + testari, to make a will Interestingly, a person who dies intestate is also called ‘intestate.’ But, the person who dies testate is called a testator.

  • If a Hindu man dies intestate leaving behind a wife, a son and a daughter, the Hindu Succession Act of 1956 decrees that his property shall devolve equally upon the three of them.
    Codicil: (n) an appendix to a will which contains an explanation or a modification, etc.

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