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Latin ego I

The English word ‘I’ is a cousin of ‘ego.’ The following words have ‘ego’ in them:


Egoist, egotist, egocentric, alter ego


Read this adaptation of Russian writer Ivan Turgenev’s short story ‘The Egoist.’ It tells the life story of a man who thought he was the centre of the world.


“He had been born healthy, he had been born rich and during the whole course of his long life, he remained healthy and rich.


He never committed a single crime; he never made a single slip of the tongue; he never told a single lie. At least he believed so.


Since he believed that his own self was so exemplary, he was genuinely indignant if others did not salute it too. Not being conscious of a single failing in himself, he did not understand, he did not permit, a weakness in any one else.


He looked at himself in the mirror often and in a firm, clear voice said: “Yes. I am a good man, unlike most others!


He lived in this self-satisfied manner and one day, died. All his life, he had not understood a single person because he had been completely surrounded by himself on all sides, above and below, behind and before.”


IE s(w)e- self

The English word ‘self’ and the Sanskrit word swayam are both descendants of this root. Both mean the same.


Being by ourselves means being alone. The Latin word solus, which is from this IE root, means ‘by (one) self, alone.’ A ‘solo’ performance is given by one artist alone. The ‘sole’ reason for visiting one’s grandmother is the only reason for doing so. A ‘solitaire’ is a card game that can be played by one person, or it is a single diamond set into an ornament.

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