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Everytime you shout “surprise!” you make an obeisance to this root. The prefix sur- in surprise is a variant of the Latin prefix sub-, which means under. To ‘surprise’ somebody is to take him under, that is to overwhelm or overcome him. Your sudden gesture or attack overwhelms the other person so much that he does not come to know for a moment what he ought to do.

Latin emere to take

The word ‘example’ is derived from the Latin eximere, which means ‘to take out’, made as it is from the prefix ex- meaning ‘out’ and emere. Anything which is taken out of a group of things to serve as a representative of that entire group is called its example. The word ‘sample’ is just a simplified form of ‘example.’


The following words are built on emere:

Emere-1: Exemplary, exemplify, exempt

Emere-2: peremptory, preempt, redemption

Emere-3: prompt, impromptu, pronto, vintage


The word emere just means ‘to take’ but a related word sumere means ‘to take up’. Sumere is formed when the prefix sub-, up from under, is put before emere. A ‘consumer’ is one who takes up things. When someone ‘assumes’ the office of the company president, he takes it up. Similarly, a man who ‘assumes’ himself to be the centre of the universe has taken up that belief.


The other words that stem from sumere are:

Sumere-1: Sumptuary, sumptuous

Sumere-2: presumptive, presumptuous, unassuming

Sumere-3: resumption, subsume


Latin trahere to pull, draw

The machine that obediently pulls a trolley loaded with grain-sacks is called a ‘tractor’. When opposites ‘attract’, they feel a pull towards one another (L. ad-, towards). A contract pulls people together (L.con-, together). To ‘subtract’ is to pull away from below (L. sub-, under, below).


While the sacks were being filled with grains, a few words too jumped in. They are now merrily singing travel-songs while the poor tractor pulls the heavy trolley. They are:

Sack 3: Tractable, intractable, tract

Sack 67: Detract, abstract, protract, retract

Sack 171: retreat, treatise, entreat

Sack 289: trait, distrait, distraught

Latin trudere to push

The words ‘thrust’ and ‘threat’ are cousins of the Latin trudere. When princess Aaleen ‘thrusted’ a knife into her heart, she pushed it into the organ. ‘Threats’ are issued to push somebody into doing something that he otherwise would not do.


An ‘intruder’ is a ghuspaithiya; he pushes himself into an area that he has no right over. When his intrusion is discovered, he is kicked out, that is, extruded. The other words from this root are:

Trudere-1: Obtrude, unobtrusive

Trudere-2: protrude, abstruse

Latin pellere to push

When a troublesome student is ‘expelled’ from his college, he is pushed out of the institute.


You can say that you were ‘compelled’ to do something when you did not really want to do something, but were pushed into doing it. You had no choice. Doing that thing had become ‘compulsory’ for you.


Repulsion is the opposite of attraction. To ‘repel’ something means to push it back. Like, a mosquito repellent pushes back all the mosquitoes.


The other words from this root are:

dispel, impel, impulse, propel

Latin pressare, premere to press

The words from this root are:

Pressus-1: press, pressure, compress

Pressus-2: espresso, depress, impress

Pressus-3: suppress, repress, reprimand


Latin jacere to throw

To ‘reject’ a proposal literally means to ‘throw it back.’ No matter how gently you do it, it will still deject the poor suitor. But, some things just need to be done and you can only hope that he (or she) will come out of the doldrums soon. And most do. There is always someone in their adjacent flat or the junior year to take their mind off you.


However, a few abject lovers ‘throw away’ their self-respect and pride and keep wagging their tails behind their unresponsive sweethearts, with the hope that they will relent one day. That seldom happens. Just the other day, a poet died in abject poverty on the streets. He had great talent and could have been rich but all he cared to write were lovelorn poems to a girl who had long ago married someone else.


Exemplary: (adj) serving as an example.

Origin: from example

  • He showed exemplary courage in the battlefield.


Exemplify: (v) serve as an example of.

  • Bollywood, where people of all religions and regions work on their common passion—films—together, exemplifies India’s secularism.
  • “Mythologist Joseph Campbell exemplified the autodidactic method. Following completion of his Master’s degree, Campbell decided not to go forward with his plans to earn a doctorate, and he simply followed his curiosity and read deeply for five years. He developed a systematic programme of reading nine hours a day.” Excerpted from Wikipedia.


Exempt: (v) to free from an obligation or a duty; (n): exemption.

Origin: L ex-, out + emere, to take => ‘to take out of an obligation’

  • Men whose taxable annual income is less than 1,60,000 are exempted from paying income tax.
    On ground of his poor health, the accused was granted exemption from appearing in the court during the hearings of his case.


Peremptory: (adj) full of authority, leaving no option of refusal.

Origin: L per-, through + emere, to take => ‘to take away completely.’

  • From her drunkard husband’s peremptory knock on the bedroom door, she could tell that she would have to let him in or he would start kicking the door.


Preempt: (v) forestall

Origin: L pre-, before + emere, to take => ‘to take a step before the other person can take his.’

  • The new Chief Minister gave ministerial berths to all the important leaders of his party so as to preempt attempts at snatching power from him.


Redemption: (n) recovery; making up for; (v) redeem.

Origin: L re-, back + emere, to take => ‘to take back what you have given’

  • He has sinned beyond redemption.


Prompt: (adj) quick

Origin: L pro-, forward + emere, to take => ‘to bring forth’ => ‘at hand’ => ‘ready quick’

  • The prompt arrival of the ambulance saved the accident victim’s life.


Impromptu: (adj) on the spot, with no preparation.

Origin: L in promptu, in readiness.

  • The friends were eating their dinner at the hostel mess when they made an impromptu plan to watch a late night movie at the nearby multiplex.


Pronto: (adv) quickly

Origin: from prompt.

  • The model claimed that she could make anyone fall in love with her pronto.
  • The old lady in the neighbourhood adviced the new bride to learn cooking pronto.


Vintage: (adj) belonging to a particular year or time period; old-fashioned

Origin: L vinum, grape + emere, to take away => ‘to take away grapes’ => ‘to make wine from grapes’ => ‘wine of a particular year’

Vintage wine, vintage cars, vintage music

  • The other words from the root vinum are: vintner, vineyard

Vintner: (n) a wine maker and seller.

Vineyard: (n) a plantation of grapes.

  • A wine bottle marked with the general ‘Made in France’ label has been company-produced on a large scale, whereas one whose label specifies the name of the Chateau and the village has been produced by a vintner on his own vineyard. Such a wine is exclusive and much superior in quality.


Sumptuary: (adj) related with moral policing; related with expenditure.

Origin: L sumere, to take => ‘cost’

  • Examples of sumptuary laws include: ban of alchohol, ban on smoking in public places, ban of sale to alcohol to minors, a university banning its female students from wearing jeans.


Sumptuous: (adj) very rich and elaborate.

Origin: L sumere, to take => ‘cost’ => ‘costly’

  • The family laid a sumptuous feast to welcome their son-in-law.


Presumptive: (adj) probable; assuming something to be true.

Origin: L pre-, before + sumere, to take => ‘to take beforehand’

  • The young man was the nephew of the bachelor businessman and the heir presumptive to his huge estate.
  • The speaker began her speech thus: “I do not have the foolish presumption to imagine that I can offer any thing new on a subject which has been so successfully treated by many learned and able writers.”


Presumptuous: (adj) making assumptions beforehand; excessively bold.

Origin: L pre-, before + sumere, to take => ‘to take beforehand’

  • For a man who has never succeeded, it is presumptuous to declare that success does not matter.
  • It was presumptuous of the professor to introduce himself to the class as ‘a future Nobel winner.’ The students took an immediate dislike to him.


Unassuming: (adj) modest

Origin: L un-, not + assuming => ‘not making any assumptions about his power or importance.’

  • Upon seeing him, there was no way one could know that he was the founding-chairman of one of India’s biggest IT companies.
  • He dressed very simply, was very polite in talking and threw no weight around. He was an unassuming man and that increased everybody’s respect for him.


Resumption: (n) starting again; (v): resume.

Origin: L re-, again + sumere, to take

  • We resumed the work after a short break. Upon its resumption, we noticed that we were working more efficiently than before. The break had, indeed, invigorated us.


Subsume: (v) to take under.

Origin: L sub-, under + sumere, to take

  • Renowned educationist Professor Yash Pal proposed the setting up of a National Commission for Higher Education and Research, which would subsume all other regulatory bodies of higher education in the country, such as the AICTE, the UGC, etc.


Tractable: (adj) manageable

Origin: L trahere, to pull => ‘those who can be pulled along.’

  • Teachers like tractable students.


Intractable: (adj) unmanageable, stubborn.

Origin: L in-, not + tractable

  • Poverty seems to be an intractable problem of India. The political leaders claim to have been trying to eradicate it since the
  • Independence, but for all their efforts, people remain poor and in as huge and horrifying numbers as before.


Tract: (n) a large piece of land; a specific area of the body

Origin: L trahere, to pull => ‘pulled out’ => ‘stretched’ => ‘large stretch of land’

  • Because they wanted to settle the forest area, the British government allotted tracts of land to anybody who applied for a farm there.
  • Respiratory tract, urinary tract, etc.


Detract: (v) to pull down, to belittle.

Origin: L de-, down + trahere, to pull

  • The Ramayana has two episodes which detract from Rama’s character as the ideal man. One is his killing Bali, the monkey king, from behind. And the other is his telling Sita, when they are reunited, that he cannot live with her again because she had been taken by another man.


Abstract: (n) summary; (adj) existing only in the mind, having no physical presence.

Origin: L abs-, away + trahere, to pull => ‘to pull away from the material world’

  • The painter said that he did not paint real things like an apple or a woman or a tree or a landscape. He painted the abstract—ideas such as pain, love, sadness, hope—and used the real things only as a medium for conveying those abstract thoughts and emotions.
    “For example,” he said, “consider three paintings. One shows a bright, red apple, the second a shrunk, wrinkled one and the third, an apple that is rotting and twisted. All the three paintings show the same real object—the apple. Yet, the meaning they convey, the emotion each arouses in you is different. That intangible emotion, that thought which you think when looking at my painting is what I actually paint.”
  • The abstract of a research paper


Protract: (v) to draw out, lengthen.

Origin: L pro-, forward + trahere, to pull

  • The project manager protracted his work leave by a week. “He must have protracted the negotiations himself so that he gets to enjoy America for a week more!” His subordinates chuckled. The manager had been sent by the company to the US to settle a deal with a client and was originally scheduled to return within a week. Meanwhile, his team members enjoyed their break from the protracted meetings that the manager was famous for.


Retract: (v) to take back.

Origin: L re-, back + trahere, to pull

  • Sia was so afraid that her mother would retract her permission for the school trip that she behaved like a model child till the trip started.
  • The politicians and film actors are always saying something and then retracting it.


Retreat: (v) withdraw from action; (n) a place where one goes after withdrawing from action.

Origin: L re-, back + trahere, to pull => ‘to pull oneself back from the busy schedule’

  • The Prime Minsiter retreated to the hills of Manali for a much-needed vacation.
  • The Manali hills were the favourite summer retreat of the Prime Minister.


Treatise: (n) a very long, detailed formal essay about the principles of a subject.

Origin: treat+ ise => ‘treatment of a subject’. The word ‘treat’ is a derivative of trahere.

  • The Arthashastra by Kautilya (also known as Chanakya) is a comprehensive treatise on all aspects of good governance, economic policy, military strategy and international relations.


Entreat: (v) plead earnestly.

Origin: L en-, in + trahere, to pull => ‘to pull in’

  • She entreated her husband to tell her the truth and admit if there was someone else in his life.


Trait: (n) characteristic, quality.

Origin: L trahere, to draw out => ‘a sketch of a person’ => ‘qualities that define a person’

  • Honesty, dishonesty, punctuality etc. are character traits.


Distrait: (adj) absent-minded

Origin: L dis-, apart + trahere, to pull => ‘to pull away from the topic being discussed.’ The word distract has the same etymology.

  • Sia was telling her mother all that happened on the trip with full enthusiasm, but her mother appeared distrait, with a far-away look on her face. “Mama,” Sia said. Her mother did not realize. “Mama!” Sia shook her. Her mother’s chain of thoughts broke, she came back to the world where Sia had been talking, and replied with a confused, “Haan?”


Distraught: (adj) crazy with fear or tension.

Origin: same as distrait.

  • Two days before her daughter’s marriage, riots broke out in Delhi, which was where her would-be son-in-law lived. Savitri Devi was distraught. What would happen now? Was he safe? Was his family safe? Would the baraat be able to come when riots were happening all around? The widowed mother had spent her life’s savings on the arrangements. What if the wedding did not happen now? She prayed feverishly for the well-being of the boy and his family and her daughter.


Extrude: (v) to push out.

Origin: L ex-, out + trudere, to push

  • The drunkards were extruded out of the movie hall.


Obtrude: (v) to push forward or upon; (adj) obtrusive: that which obtrudes or pushes itself into one’s view or attention.

Origin: L ob- against + trudere, to push

  • In spite of his obtrusive baldness, he gave the impression of youth.
  • Riya lost her whole family in a train accident. Nitin tried his best to console her. He badly wanted to tell her that she was not alone in the world, that he would always be there for her. But he didn’t because he thought that it was to take her at a disadvantage to obtrude his love upon her at such a time when she was so shaken, weak and dependent upon him.


Unobtrusive: (adj) that which does not draw attention.

Origin: un + obtrusive

  • He slipped out of the party unobtrusively, went up to his hotel room, killed his boss, cleaned his hands in his boss’ washroom and then entered the party hall as unobtrusively as he had left it.


Protrude: (v) hang outwards.

Origin: L pro-, forth + trudere, to push => ‘pushed outwards’

  • His two front teeth protruded quite prominently. So, he got braces on his teeth to push them in.


Abstruse: (adj) difficult to understand.

Origin: L abs-, away + trudere, to push => ‘pushed away’ => ‘pushed away from sight’ => ‘hidden’

  • It is an art to write about abstruse topics in a simple and interesting manner.


Dispel: (v) to scatter.

Origin: L dis-, apart + pellere, to push

  • The sight of his mother and her sunshine-like-warmth dispelled all darkness and sorrows from his heart.
  • Sandhu tried to dispel the sadness which overhung all the friends by telling one of the poor jokes he was famous for, but nobody was in the mood to laugh.


Impel: (v) lead into doing something.

Origin: L im-, in + pellere, to push => ‘to push into something’

  • His jealousy impelled him to kill his brother.
  • Two instincts impel a child to play—the craving for activity and the craving for joy.


Impulse: (n) a sudden, strong desire that makes one do something; a moving force.

Origin: L im-, in + pellere, to push => ‘to push into something’

  • He had not planned to murder his business rival. He just acted on impulse when the fellow swaggered before him about his brand new Mercedes and taunted him for his low profits.
  • Swagger: (v) boast; to talk or walk arrogantly, as if one is the king of the world.


Propel: (v) to drive forward.

Origin: L pro-, forward + pellere, to push

  • A boat is propelled by its oars or, if it is a machine boat, by its engine.


Reprimand: (n) severe scolding or criticism, especially by a person in authority.

Origin: L re-, back + premere, to press => ‘to push back’ => ‘to push back someone who was crossing his limit.’

  • In the middle of the lecture, Rahul stuck a pin in the boy, sitting next to him. The boy said "Ouch!" loudly and Rahul got a new reprimand from his teacher.


Deject: (v) to dishearten.

Origin: L de-, down + jacere, to throw => ‘to throw down the spirits of ’


Adjacent: (adj) adjoining, neighbouring.

Origin: L ad-, towards + jacere, to throw => ‘to throw towards each other’ => ‘to lay together’

  • Accident and Crime lie in adjacent territory. They abut on each other. The boundary line that distinguishes between the two is intent.


Abject: (adj) a condition of great misery and zero dignity.

Origin: L ab-, away + jacere, to throw => ‘to throw away’


Relent: (v) soften, melt, give in.

  • In Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayeinge, Simran begs her father to let her go on a trip to Europe, her last chance to see the world before her marriage to a complete stranger. Her father initially does not like the idea but soon, he relents and allows her to go, on the condition that she promises never to betray his trust.
  • Relentless: (adj) One who refuses to give in.

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