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The shepherds in the mountains are nomads. In the summer, they move with their herds to the upper regions of the mountains in search of pastures. When winter sets in, they return to the forests and plains where their cattle will still be able to forage for food. This annual to-and-fro movement is called transhumance.


When one of those shepherds dies, if he is a Muslim or a Christian, a priest is called to perform the dead man’s in-humation. The buried dead body slowly decomposes into the earth and is called humus, thereafter. If somebody later on raises suspicions about the death and suggests to the police that it could be a case of homicide, the police may exhume the dead body to investigate the truth.


Shuza Aahat died as a poor and poorly known writer. His last novel was on a shepherd who dies under mysterious circumstances. It was published posthumously and became a bestseller. Poor Shuza! All his life, he tried to catch a glimpse of Success. And all the while, she was hiding behind Death’s posterior.


Origin: A variant of ‘human’. Human and humane were used interchangeably till the 18th century. Then, humane slowly became a distinct word meaning ‘with human qualities.’

  • Some people think that capital punishment is more humane than life imprisonment, because it kills instantly whereas life imprisonment kills painfully, in slow degrees. A few say that both are equally inhumane becaue both take away from a man his right to life.

Inhumane: (adj) not humane, inhuman. Human and humane have different meanings but inhuman and inhumane mean the same.

(n) public expression of respect or honour.

Origin: L homo, man => ‘respect shown to a man’

  • The Prime Minister paid homage to the soldiers who died during the Kargil war.

Bonhomie: (n) good-natured manner, friendliness.

Origin: L bon, good+ homo => French bonhomme ‘good-natured man’ => English bonhomie.

  • Everybody was pleasantly surprised by the bonhomie between the two biggest stars of Bollywood. Hridya Rolan and Aafiz Khan were invited at the celebrity chat show ‘Tea for free’ and they were seen telling jokes to each other and pulling each other’s leg.

Homicide: (n) killing of one human by another. Intentional homicide is called murder, and unintentional, manslaughter.

Origin: L homo+ -cide, to kill.

  • A top actress was found dead in her bungalow, with an empty bottle of sleeping pills by her side. “Is this suicide?” The mediapersons fell over each other to ask the Superintendent of Police. “It may be,” he said, “but it may be homicide too. We are investigating the matter.”

Nomad: (n) a member of a tribe which has no fixed home and moves with the seasons from place to place.

(n) an area covered with grass or other plants on which the animals can graze.

Origin: L pascere, to feed.

(adj) related to pastures or shepherds; rural (because the pastures are found in rural areas)

  • Most of the paintings of the painter were in pastoral greens and vibrant reds and yellows.
  • As opposed to the speed and tension of the cities, pastoral life moves in a relaxed slow motion.

Another word which has –past- in it is repast.

(n) a meal.

Origin: L re-, again + pascere, to feed => ‘to feed again’ => ‘to feed regularly’ => ‘the meal that is fed’.

  • We ended our repast with hot gulab jamuns.
  • A repast befitting the kings was laid out to welcome the son-in-law of the house.

Forage: (n) food for horses and cattle; (v) to make a search for food etc.

  • The conversion of forests into agricultural land seriously decreases the availability of forage.
  • The poor child had to forage the garbage dumps for food. The rag-pickers foraged it for plastics, metals and broken glass.

A related word is foray.

(n) a quick attack; an initial attempt in a new area (v) to make such an attack.

Origin: Foray is related with forage.

  • The dacoits made a foray on the king’s tent in the jungle.
  • Amitabh Bachchan’s foray into politics was not successful.

As we did above, forage means the food for horses and cattle. The word fodder too has a similar meaning. Let’s see what is the difference between the two.

(n) food for cattle, horses and other domesticated animals. Fodder refers particularly to food given to the animals. The food which they forage for themselves is not called fodder.

Origin: Fodder is related with food.

(n) the seasonal migration of livestock and the people who look after them, from one grazing ground to another.

Origin: L trans-, across+ humus => ‘to move across the ground’

(n) domestic animals, such as cattle, sheep and horses, which are kept for use or profit.

Origin: live, alive+ stock, goods of a trade => ‘living goods’

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