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The Sanskrit words Yoga (union with God), yog (sum total, joining together), yojak (one that joins), yojan (joining), yukt (joined with), sanyukt (joint), sanyog (union), sanyojak (conjunction), yugal (a pair, couple), yugum (a pair, couple), jod (sum total, joint) and Jodi (a pair) are from this root.

Very close to yugum is the Latin jugum which is used for a yoke, because a yoke couples two bulls together (‘yoke’ too comes from yeug-). The word conjugal is used for people who have been yoked together for life. It makes marriage look almost tragic!   


The 1965 Hindi movie Leader had a song that is loved till date:

Apni aazaadi ko hum hargiz mita sakte nahin

Sar kata sakte hain lekin sar jhuka sakte nahin


Rabindranath Tagore too wrote ‘Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high…into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.’


In both these examples, the image of a head held high denotes freedom, and that of a bowed head, loss of freedom. The Romans had the same symbolism.


Whenever they won a war, they held a public ceremony called Subjugation in which every defeated soldier, stripped almost naked, was made to pass under a yoke. To do so, he had to bow his head, and that is when the victorious Roman soldiers would jeer at him and catcall him mercilessly. This demeaning ritual marked his fall from a proud warrior to a humiliated slave.


The Latin jungere, meaning ‘to join’ is the nasalized version of the IE root.


The point of joining is called a ‘joint’ (!) or a ‘junction’. A juncture too is a joining point, but is used mostly in the sense of a critical point in time. So, the junct- words in ‘railway junctions’ and ‘junctures in the life of a man’ cannot be interchanged.


An ‘adjoining’ bathroom is joined to the bedroom. ‘Conjoined’ twins are joined together, at their head or an arm or their back. A word that joins two sentences together, into one bigger sentence, is called a ‘conjunction’, like ‘and’, ‘but’, ‘because’ and ‘however.’


The other words from this root are:

Jungere-1: juntarejoinder

Jungere-2: enjoininjunctionadjunct.


Also from yeug- is the Latin word iuxta meaning ‘close by.’ It is found in juxtaposejostle and adjust. To ‘adjust’ a thing initially meant ‘to put it close to’ a system and see if it fits; it later acquired the sense of ‘making a thing fit the system’.


IE leig- to bind

The Greek teinein and the Latin tendere both mean ‘to stretch.’ Since a stretched wire also becomes thinner, the Latin tenuis means ‘thin, rare, fine.’ By the way, only those wires get stretched in the first place, which can withstand strain; others just break apart when they are pulled at the ends. That is why one of the Latin children of ten- is tenere, which means ‘to hold, keep, maintain.’


Film: Sholay

Scene: Veeru on the water-tank

The anxious villagers ask the drunk, doddering Veeru why he wants to commit soosaaet? He starts telling them his tale of woes:


Yeh Basanti hai na, iss se mera lagan hone wala tha…

‘Lagan’ is a bond, specifically a bond of love or marriage. When the lagan fails, we say ‘wo dono alag ho gaye hain.’


‘Alag’ means unbounded; on the other hand, ‘lagaana’ means ‘to bind’. When you feel a ‘lagaav’ towards someone, you feel a bond with him or her.


A social, legal or moral requirement that a man is bound to fulfill is called an ‘obligation’. For example, a land tax that all the peasants were obliged to pay was called ‘lagaan’.


‘Religion’ got its name from the fact that it binds the humans back to their creator(s). And, a ‘ligament’ is a band of fibrous tissue that connects two bones.


The other words from this root are:

Leig-1: Ligaturecolligate

Leig-2: lienliaison

Leig-3: liabilityrallyalloy


IE syu-  to bind, sew

In Hindi, sutra means a thread and the act of using the sutras to stitch the cloth is called silna or seena. The line formed by the stitched thread on the cloth is called seen in Hindi and seam in English. The lady who puts that seam there, that is the one who sews the cloth, is therefore called a seamstress.


The seamy side, of cloth and of life, is always unpleasant to look at.


The following words too are from this root:


The ‘hymen’ is a thin membrane that covers the entrance to a woman’s vagina. Most cultures demand, or at least assume, that their brides are virgins and so, they associate the rupturing of hymen with the wedding night. You can now understand why, in Greek mythology, the god of marriage was called Hymen. And, by the why, have you understood how hymen, which sounds so different from syu- could be from this root? Remember, that in Greek and Persian, the Indo European ‘s’ changes into ‘h’.


IE ned- to tie, bind

What do you call the cotton string with which you tie your pajama or salwar?‘Naada’ (the ‘d’ here has the same sound as in naadi, meaning nerve).


The knot that you tie with the naada is called nodus in Latin. The words from nodus are:


The act of tying a naada is depicted by the Latin word nectire.


When you tie two things together, you are said to ‘connect’ them. The British prefer to spell connection as connexion. As you can see, replacing nect- into nex- makes no difference to the pronunciation of the word. Nect- and nex- are the two forms of the same root. So, let me now present the other words from nectire:



Latin stringere to bind, draw tight

A strong thread that is used to bind a bundle of sticks is called a ‘string’. A subdued bahu of a rich family looks all around to see if anyone is listening and then tells us with dismay, “humein koi aazadi nahin hai. Hamari saas humein baandh ke rakhti hai.” She is being figurative of course. Such a mother-in-law who binds her bahus to unbending Do’s and Don’ts is ‘strict’.


The other words from this root are:

Stringere-1: stringentastringent

Stringere-2: stranglestricture, restriction

Stringere-3: restrainconstraintstrait

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