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The Latin humilis means ‘close to the ground, lowly’. Someone who shows humility stays close to the ground. You would describe such a person as ‘down to earth.’ You would say, ‘uske paon dharti pe hain.’ On the other hand, when you ‘humiliate’ someone, you try to throw him down on the earth from the high skies that he seems to be flying in.


IE ster- star

The English ‘star’, Latin sidus and stella, Greek astrum and the Sanskrit sitaara (simplified into taara) have all arisen from the same Indo-European root, ster-.


The star-like symbol * is called an ‘asterisk’. And, the study of stars is called ‘astronomy’. Astronomy was born out of our fascination with the stellar bodies we saw at night.


Twinkle, twinkle little star, How I wonder what you are! Up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky.


As we looked at the stars, we imagined groups of them making shapes that were familiar to us. We called such groups, constellations (meaning ‘stars together’;

en- means ‘together’). Now, if those groups were there, they must do something too. So, we decided that those sidereal
groups regulated our life.


When you say you will ‘consider’, the etymology tells us that you want to ‘consult the stars’ before you make your decision. You are doing that probably because you have been told that ‘disaster’ happens when one’s ‘stars are turned away’ from one (Latin dis-, apart).


Of course, Astronomy has left these dubious interpretations of astral positions far behind. It is today a logic-driven scientific study of stars and their arrangement in the universe.


The whole universe is the playfield of astronomy, and so the distances are measured in light years. One light year equals, huh, an astronomical 9.5 trillion km!


Latin   petros   stone
Notice how similar petros is to the Hindi pathar!
‘Petroleum’ literally means ‘oil from the stones.’


  • The Vann Gujjars are a pastoral nomadic community. They live in the Shivalik hills and practice transhumance. In summer, they

move to the upper Himalayas so that their buffaloes can graze in the pastures there and return to the plains when the winter starts.

(adj) taking place after one’s death.

Origin: L post-, after + humus => ‘after the man has met the ground’ => ‘after the man’s burial’

  • Captain Shaurya Handa was conferred the Vir Chakra posthumously for successfully repulsing an attack on an army post in Kashmir.
  • A posthumous child is one who was born after the death of his father, or was taken from the dead body of his mother.

Humility: (n) absence of pride and arrogance. The guy who shows humility is called humble.

Origin: L humus => ‘on the ground’

  • Hridya Rolan’s friends were touched by his humility. Even after he became the hottest star of Bollywood, he did not put on any airs but remained the same with them, giving them the same respect, showing the same concern for them as before.

Stellar: (adj) related to the stars; like a star.

Origin: L stella, star

  • The dancer’s stellar performance made the whole audience go “wow!”

Sidereal: (adj) related to the stars.

Origin: L sidus, star

  • The sidereal rotation period of Venus is 243 earth days. This means that Venus takes 243 earth days (1 earth day= 24 hours) to rotate around a star. The star in this case is the Sun. Can you guess how much time would Pluto take to complete one sidereal rotation? 248.6 years!
  • We think that our Earth is big and the Sun, bigger still. But the sidereal universe is so huge that in it, all our planets and even our Sun look like mere specks.
  • Speck: (n) a small spot, a bit.

Dubious: (adj) arousing doubt, questionable, undecided.

(n) a feeling of doubt; a matter of doubt.

L duo, two => ‘in two minds, undecided about something.’

  • Mrs Shrivastava was dubious about her daughter marrying Taab. “Don’t ask me why- I will not be able to explain my dubiety- but I do not feel sure about Taab. Yes, I agree he is a nice guy and all but…how do I explain? Umm…well, let’s say that his love seems rather dubious to me,” she said, to the great astonishment of her madly-in-love-with-Taab daughter.

Astral: (adj) of the stars, related to the stars, from the stars or like the stars.

Origin: Gk astrum, star.

  • Most Indians believe that their destiny is predetermined by astral forces beyond their control.

Astronomical: (adj) related to astronomy; extremely large (because the astronomical bodies and distances are extremely large).

Origin: Gk astrum, star + nomos, law => ‘a system of laws governing the stars’

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