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Something that is kept within limits is ‘moderate’; when things—whether praise or expenses—get excessive, the word ‘immoderate’ is used. A man who shows a moderate estimate of his own abilities or talents is called ‘modest’; the one who lacks this endearing quality, who thinks that he is God’s gift to the mankind for whose creation the whole world should thank the Almighty every day, is definitely ‘immodest’.


The ‘modulus’ of 8 as well as -8 is 8; modulus is a measure of just the absolute size of a quantity. When somebody calls you their role ‘model’, they mean that they look up to you as the measure or standard for their own achievements. The other words from this root are:


Modus-1: Modemodulatemodicum

Modus-2: modishoutmoded

Modus-3: commodiousaccommodate

Latin pendere to weigh, hang
Latin ponderare to weigh

Can you think of why the same Latin word would denote both weighing and hanging? Think before you jump to the next line (the answer is not there anyway).


The ‘pendulum’ that we see in clocks and study in Physics derives its name from pendulous. A ‘pending’ decision hangs in the air as does a ‘pendant’. An impending danger hangs over one’s head. An appendage is an extra thing hung to the main body, like the human organ ‘appendix’.


Imagine a middle-aged, middle-class man standing with his arms outstretched. Treating his arms like the branch of a tree, two naughty kids are hanging down from each. (Such is the plight of a family man!) His four kids are ‘dependent’ on him (L. de-, down).

So, could you find the answer? It lies in the process of weighing. We suspend a weighing balance from the centre of the horizontal beam. Both its pans are empty and hang at the same level. Then, we put a known weight in one pan, and start putting the thing-to-be-weighed in the other pan, continuing till both the pans hang in balance once more. Thus, we weigh by hanging.


The words from the ‘weight’ sense of the root are:

Hanging weights 1: compendiumcompensaterecompense

Hanging weights 2: spendthriftdispenseindispensable

Hanging weights 3: stipendpensivecounterpoise

Hanging weights 4: equipoisepropensitypenchant

Now we come to the ponderare words. The most common among them is pound, a unit of weight. The other ponderare words are:

Ponderponderouspreponderance and imponderable


Mode: (n) a way of doing something; a state.

Origin: L modus, measure => ‘measure of tone in music’ => ‘manner in which music is played’ => ‘manner’

  • Modes of transportation
  • The cell phone is in silent mode.

Modulate: (v) to control the amount of.

Origin: L modus, measure -> modulare, to measure, to control the amount of

  • A speaker who does not modulate his voice according to his content sounds very boring and monotonous.
  • Scientists discovered that Green tea can modulate the effect that cigarette smoking has on the lungs.

Modicum: (n) a small amount.

Origin: L modus, measure => ‘some measure’

  • “If you have even a modicum of self-respect, then hand me your resignation right now!” The manager of a private company told the clerk who had been caught taking bribe from a rival company.
  • Once he achieved a modicum of success, his head started floating above the clouds.

Modish: (adj) stylish, in current fashion.

Origin: mode + -ish => ‘one who keeps up with the current state (of fashion)’

qqThe model looked fabulous in a modish yellow sari teamed with designer dark glasses, high heels and a silver handbag.


Outmoded: (adj) out of fashion, outdated; (v) to make outmoded.

Origin: out + mode => ‘no longer the way of doing things’

  • ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child’ is an outmoded philosophy.
  • Dressing styles that are in vogue today become outmoded tomorrow and after some years, come in vogue again, only to be outmoded yet again.

Commodious: (adj) having lot of space.

Origin: L com- + modus, manner => ‘suitable manner’ => ‘convenient’

  • A commodious car, a commodious flat, a commodious auditorium, a commodious handbag

Accommodate: (v) to make space for, to do a favour, adapt.

Origin: L ad-, to + com- + modus => ‘to make the manner suitable’

  • The car can accommodate upto seven people.
  • Normally all the four friends used the common PC for an equal number of hours. However, when one of them needed to prepare a presentation or a report, the others accommodated and let her have the PC to herself.
  • The old woman could not accommodate to the new technology.

Pendulous: (adj) hanging down loosely, oscillating between two choices.

Origin: L pendere, to hang

  • The pendulous wind chimes made sweet music as the breeze swayed them to and fro.
  • Chandeliars are usually pendulous.
  • Mango trees have pendulous fruit.

Impending: (adj) going to happen, threatening to happen.

Origin: L im-, in + pendere, to hang => ‘to hang over’

  • The girl and the boy met at their standard meeting place. Her marriage had been fixed elsewhere. This was their last meeting. They promised not to blight these last moments of togetherness with thoughts of their impending separation and tried to fill in as much happiness in these finite moments as they could.
  • Everyone filled the fuel tanks of all their automobiles to the brim when they heard news of an impending hike in petrol and diesel prices.
  • Another way of saying the above sentence: Everyone filled the fuel tanks of all their automobiles to the brim when they heard that a hike in petrol and diesel prices was imminent.

Brim: (n) the top edge of a hollow container.


Append: (v) to attach as a supplement. A thing which is appended to the main body is called an appendage.

Origin: L ad-, to + pendere, to hand => ‘to hang on’

  • The candidate appended two letters of recommendation to his resume.
  • An appendix at the end of a book contains extra text which supplements the subject matter of the book.

Compendium: (n) a summary of a lengthy subject which, despite being short, covers all the main topics; a list of various things.

Origin: L com-, together + pendere, to weigh => ‘to put all the weighty topics together’

  • An encyclopedia is a compendium of knowledge.
  • The NCERT History book of Class X is a compendium of Indian history under the British rule.
  • The professor of English prepared a compendium of commonly misused English words.

Compensate: (v) to recompense.

Origin: L com-, together + pendere, to weigh => ‘to weigh two things together’ => ‘to make two things equivalent in weight or value.’

  • An employer compensates the hard work of his employees by paying them an equivalent amount of money. The more work, or the more important work, that one does, the more money he gets as compensation. 

Recompense: (v) to repay; (n) a repayment.

Origin: L re-+ com-, together + pendere, to weigh => ‘to weigh two things together’ => ‘to make two things equivalent in weight or value.’

  • Roohi agreed to marry Shravan because she felt that he deserved a recompense for his years of devoted love. Her friends, however, were divided on the issue. A few said she would be happy with Shravan but the others felt that marrying just to recompense somebody was not right.
  • The villagers demanded recompense from the cold drink factory located just outside their village, for polluting the river that they drew water from and for contaminating their soil.
  • The company recompensed its employees for work-related calls that they made from their personal phones.
  • Twenty-three people were killed in a stampede at the Jagannath Puri temple. The Chief Minister of Orissa announced a compensation of ` 2 lakh to the kin of the dead and ` 1 lakh to the grievously injured. However, an angry mother fumed, “They think they can recompense my son’s death with 2 lakh? How dare they put a price tag on somebody’s life?”

Stampede: (n) a sudden panicky rush of a crowd of people or a herd of animals.

Grievously: (adv) causing great grief or pain.


Spendthrift: (n) a person who spends money wastefully.

Origin: spend + thrift. Etymology of spend:

L ex-, out + pendere, weigh => ‘to weigh out (money)’. ‘Spend’ is an alternate form of ‘expend.’ This is why, ‘spending’ and ‘expenditure’ are



Thrift: (n) the habit of spending money wisely and trying to save as much as possible. Frugality also means the same. A person who shows

thrift or frugality is called thrifty or frugal.


Dispense: (v) to hand out, to distribute.

Origin: L dis-, apart + pendere, to weigh => ‘to weigh apart each man’s share’ => ‘to distribute each man’s share’

A dispensary was traditionally a place where medicines were weighed out.

  • ]Only chemists have the right to dispense medicines.
  • “Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.” Kurt Vonnegut
  • Only 24% respondents in a survey agreed that India should dispense with death penalty. The phrase ‘to dispense with’ means ‘to do away with.’

Indispensable: (adj) absolutely necessary, that which you cannot do without.

Origin: L in-, not + dispensable => ‘that which cannot be handed out to others’

  • When Shravan went to his boss and told him that he wanted to quit, his boss almost genuflected before him and begged him to stay. He was indispensable! His salary was doubled with immediate effect and he stayed, feeling quite proud to be so valued. However, after some time, he started realizing that because he was so indispensable, he would never get promoted—there was simply no one else who could fill the void he would leave!

Stipend: (n) an allowance given to a student or an intern in an organization.

Origin: L stips, coin + pendere, to weigh => ‘to weigh out coins’

  • The Research Fellows of IIM Bangalore get a monthly stipend of ` 22,000.

Pensive: (adj) lost in thought or a dream, usually with a slightly sad look on the face.

Origin: L pendere, to weigh => ‘to weigh out different options’ => ‘to think’

  • Watching the four-year-old photographs of her college farewell made Shruti pensive. How detached she had become from most of her friends, friends who she had thought were “forever” at the time those photographs were clicked! The four years since college had made her realize that no one really had the time to bother about anyone else. All were busy in their own lives. She knew this, yet, at some level, she still hadn’t accepted it. It still hurt to think that her best friends didn’t have time for her, that she was alone. She pensively began humming the Mukesh song:

Kal koi mujhko yaad kare kyun koi mujhko yaad kare?

Masroof zamaanaa mere liye kyun waqt apnaa barbaad karey?

Main pal do pal ka shaayar hoon, pal do pal meri kahaani hai.

Pa do pal meri hasti hai, pal do pal meri jawaani hai.


Counterpoise: (n) a counterbalancing weight; (v) to put an equal weight in the opposite scale of a weighing balance.

Origin: L contra-, opposite + pensum, weight


Equipoise: (n) state of having equal weights on both scales of a weighing balance; a weight which causes the state of equipoise.

Origin: L equi-, equal + pensum, weight

  • A counterpoise is also called an equipoise because it is the weight which brings about the state of equipoise.
  • In India, there is an institutional equipoise between the executive (that is, the government), the legislature (the Parliament and state  legislatures) and the judiciary (the courts). This means, that all the three institutions are equally important and powerful. No one has more powers than the other two. 

Propensity: (n) natural inclination, tendency.

Origin: L pro-, forward + pendere, to hang => ‘to hang forward’ => ‘to tilt to one side’ => ‘a natural tilt towards something’

  • Girls usually have a propensity to play with dolls. Boys usually have a propensity to play with cars and guns.
  • When the pampered prince Salim showed a propensity to wine and women, his father, Emperor Akbar, banished the young man to  the battlefield so that by enduring hardships, the prince would become responsible.

Penchant: (n) strong liking for something.

Origin: L pendere, to hang -> pendicare, to hang => ‘to tilt to one side’

  • I have a penchant for words.
  • The Chief Minister of Purva Pradesh had a penchant for erecting stone statues of herself and her politica mentor. In her five years in office, she got erected 2,000 statues made and installed all over the state. This averages to more than one statue per day!

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