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Latin ornare to equip, decorate

Indian weddings are all about the show. Invitations are sent out on ornate cards and spectacular venues are set up; the heavily adorned bride and groom are placed on ornate chairs fit for royalty on an ornate stage; suited men and women dripping with ornaments come onstage to bless the couple and do not forget to bring their shimmering gifts in focus when the photographer asks them to pose. That duty done, they drift away to the food stalls and have a week’s worth of food.


That was also the scene at Sudhendra Chaudhary’s daughter’s wedding. He was smiling contentedly as he surveyed the proceedings. All was going well. Suddenly, his brow furrowed. Vinod Lal was onstage, handing over a big glossy gift pack to his daughter. He immediately rushed there. Lal was already down the stage by then. Chaudhary ji hurriedly took the gift from her daughter, told her that she could not accept it and scurried towards Lal.


“What were you trying to do?” He asked the man heatedly. Lal smiled an oily smile, “Chaudhary ji, please do not be so angry. Your beautiful daughter is like a daughter to me too. I too wanted to bless her on her happy day. I want her to be happy.” Lal then looked balefully at the stage. “It would sadden me if her happiness does not last.”


“Are you trying to threaten me? I will call the police. Try gifts, try threats, try whatever you can, you cannot suborn me. Do you understand? Now, take your gift and leave! Immediately!” Lal left the gift on a table. As he saw the man go, dread snaked around Chaudhari ji’s heart. What would that villain do to his family? Oh, why had he witnessed Lal murdering that man? Why had he not had the good sense to quietly skulk away from the scene? He looked at his daughter. How happy she looked! May God guard her, he prayed with all his might.

Latin rudis unformed, rough

Look at rudis. What is the first word that comes to your mind from this root? Rude! ‘Rude’ behaviour is rough as are ‘rude’ hands or a ‘rude’ hut or a ‘rude’ calculation or a ‘rude’ idea.


Can you now guess the meaning of the words rudimentary and erudite?


Latin onus load, burden

Onus is one of those Latin words that have travelled unchanged into English. It is also the (single) parent of the words onerous and exonerate.


Ornate: (adj) highly decorated.

Origin: L ornare, to decorate

  • The rooms of the palace were massive and ornate.

Adorn: (v) to decorate.

Origin: L ad-, towards + ornare, to decorate => ‘to take towards being decorated’

  • The bride was adorned with rich jewellery.

Furrow: (v) to wrinkle one’s face as if in anger or deep thought.


Scurry: (v) to move hurriedly.

Origin: from the phrase hurry-scurry, which means ‘a confused, hurried rush’


Baleful: (adj) intending harm, showing harm.


Suborn: (v) to motivate a witness to give false testimony in court by bribing him or using other means; to induce someone to do something illegal.

Origin: L sub-, under + ornare, to equip => ‘to equip under the table’ => ‘to bribe’


Skulk: (v) to lie in hiding; to move secretly so that no one can notice.


Rudimentary: (adj) related to basic facts; undeveloped.

Origin: L rudis, rough, unformed

  • The woman had only a rudimentary knowledge of maths and so found it difficult to help her son in his homework.

Related word: rudiments

Rudiments: (n) the basic principles of a subject; the unformed first stage of something

  • She knew only the rudiments of maths.
  • The child picked up the rudiments of Kathakali from her mother who was a trained dancer.

Erudite: (adj) learned, scholarly; (n) erudition.

Origin: L ex-, out + rudis, unformed => ‘to take out of the unformed state’ => ‘to teach’ => ‘a man who is well-taught’

  • The professor published an erudite study on the morally grey areas in the Ramayana.
  • Ravana was the most intelligent and erudite man of his times 

Onus: (n) burden, responsibility.

Origin: L onus

  • The onus was on the accused to prove that he was not guilty.
  • The onus of providing health care to all citizens of India is on the government.

Onerous: (adj) burdensome

  • There being a thousand students in the school, the job of the principal was a very onerous one.
  • Directing a film is an onerous task.

Exonerate: (v) to free from guilt or blame.

Origin: L ex-, out + onus, burden => ‘to unburden’

  • Aina refused to exonerate her brother Samesh of the charge of murdering her cat. “If only you had not been so careless as to leave her alone in the house when she was so ill and go off doing your stupid work, my Cuds would have been alive today,” she sobbed.
  • The special investigation report exonerated the state government for its culpability in the communal pogrom which happened in the state three years ago.

Pogrom: (n) a well-planned large-scale massacre of a minority community often carried out with official approval.

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