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Latin pretium price


A uxorious husband bows before every whim and fancy of his wife, saying “Yes, my precious! Your wish will be done.” He calls her ‘precious’ because he prices her very highly. It is interesting to note that the word ‘praise’ (another tool ofuxorious husbands) too is from the same root, and so are the words below:


By the way, the word ‘price’ itself has come from pretium.


Latin damnum loss


The most common word from this root is ‘damage’. Damage is the loss that results from an injury to a person, his reputation or his property.

When you shout an angry “‘Damn’ you!” at someone, you are actually cursing him to get lost forever, or to put it in other words, you wish his damnation.

Now, when you cause the loss of another man’s goods, you pay for them, so as to undo his loss. That is, you are indemnifying him.

The word condemn too has arisen from this sense of paying a penalty.

Greek poine fine, payment


To ‘punish’ somebody is to make him pay for his misdeeds. Interestingly, the word ‘pain’ too is from the same root, thereby giving the idea that pain is a punishment, a divine retribution for the wrongs one has done. ‘But I’ve done no wrongs!’ a young cancer patient teased the pandit ji his mother had taken him to. ‘Then, it must be the wrongs of your previous birth,’ the pandit replied philosophically.

The Indian Penal Code, a Laila pining for her Majnu, a saas repining about her good-for-nothing bahu, the ministers’ sons who flout rules with impunity as well as the subpoena served by a court all share this root.

Latin munus duty, gift


A strange event became the talking point of Meilan, a small fishing village. A never seen before, urban looking man entered a poor fisherman’s hut and spent more than an hour in inquiring after persons who had either been dead or gone away for more than 15 or 16 years. The following day, the family from whom all these particulars had been asked received a munificent gift, consisting of an entirely new fishing-boat, with two seines! The delighted recipients of the unexpected munificence talked non-stop of how they wanted to pour out their thanks to their generous benefactor. No one knew where he went, or where he had come from, why he had asked all those questions or why he had given such a big gift for such a small service.

The other words from this root are:


Gift for Chunnu Munus-1: communeexcommunicateincommunicado

Gift for Chunnu Munus -2: remunerateimmune

Latin dignus worthy, deserving, fitting


The most common word from this root is ‘dignity’. A man of dignity is someone who is worthy of respect. Some people forget that the poor have dignity too.

One female entered Jugnu’s life. Another walked out.

Jugnu was the youngest daughter-in-law of the Shahi family and had just given birth to her first child, a daughter. Everybody welcomed the pretty baby with gifts for her and her mother. Aarti—the sister of Jugnu’s husband—came too, with a silver bracelet. Aarti’s husband had recently suffered huge losses in his business. Jugnu viewed the bracelet with disdain and told Aarti that if she could not afford at least gold, she should rather have come empty-handed; her daughter was not born to indigents  that she should wear such worthless trinkets. An indignant Aarti walked out of the room and her former home and never forgot or forgave her bhabhi’s barbs.

The other words from this root are:



Appraise: (v) to determine the worth of.

Origin: L ad-, to + pretium, price => ‘to find out the price of ’

  • “Most people can look back over the years and identify a time and place at which their lives changed significantly. Whether by accident or design, these are the moments when, because of a readiness within us and a collaboration with events occurring around us, we are forced to seriously reappraise ourselves and the conditions under which we live and to make certain choices that will affect the rest of our lives.” Frederick F. Flack

Appreciate: (v) to value highly; to raise the price of.

Origin: L ad-, to + pretium, price => ‘to set a high price to”

  • The value of gold appreciated by 20% within a year.


Depreciate: (v) to lessen the value or price of.

Origin: L de-, down + pretium, price => ‘to lower the price of ’

  • Ram had bought his car at ` 4 lakh. Within a year, its price had depreciated to ` 2 lakh.

Misprize: (v) to value very little; hate.

Origin: L mis-, not + prize, value => ‘to not value’ => ‘to look down upon, hate’

  • Many famous authors were misprized during their lifetimes and achieved respect and recognition only after their death.

Damnation: (n) condemnation to hell by God; to judge as bad or harmful or worthy of being sent to hell; state of being ruined forever; (v) damn.

Origin: L damnum, damage, fine

  • “May I be damned if I lie before you,” the son said to his old father. What he meant was: “May I be sent to hell if I lie before you.”

Indemnify: (v) compensate for loss; insure against possible loss.

Origin: L in-, not + damnum, damage => ‘undo the damage’

  • The factory indemnified the worker who had lost his hand while working on a faulty machine in the factory.

Condemn: (v) to pass an unfavorable judgment on, to assign to a punishment

Origin: L con- + damnum, fine, damage => ‘to fine’ => ‘to punish’ => ‘to declare guilty’

  • The Opposition condemned the government’s decision to hike the price of LPG cylinders.


Retribution: (n) repayment, especially for a wrong done to one.

  • The hero of the movie killed the villain in retribution for the murder of his wife and little child by the villain.

Penal: (adj) related with punishment.

Origin: Gk poine, fine

  • The Indian Penal Code is a document which covers all the actions which are considered as crimes in India and prescribes the punishments for each of them.
  • Asking for dowry is a penal offence. This means, it is an offence for which one can get punished by court.
  • The Electricity Board penalizes late payment of bills by accruing a fine to the pending bill.

Pine: (v) to long painfully for something; to long so painfully for something that one withers away.

Origin: Gk poine, punishment => ‘pain’ => ‘be in pain about something’

  • “We look before and after, and pine for what is not;
  • Our sincerest laughter with some pain is fraught;
  • Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.”—Percy Bysshe Shelley
  • The girl pined for her dead mother.
  • Unable to bear the loss of her mother, the girl pined away.

Repine: (v) to complain about something.

Origin: Gk re- + pine. Here re-’ is an intensive.

  • The farmers repined about their hardships before the minister.
  • Do not waste time repining about the way things are. Do something to improve the situation.

Flout: (v) to disregard contemptuously.

  • The young man flouted traffic rules by driving when drunk and jumping the red lights.
  • The builder flouted safety norms in the residential apartments he built.
  • Many government school teachers flouted the ‘no private tutions’ ban.

Impunity: (n) lack of punishment.

Origin: L im-, not + poena, punishment => ‘no punishment.’

  • The landlord’s men harassed the villagers with impunity. Even the police hesitated to interfere with them.

Subpoena: (n) a writ served to a witness in a case asking him to appear before the court and give testimony; (v) to issue a subpoena to.

Origin: L sub poena, the first two words of the writ. Sub, under + poena, punishment => ‘you will be under punishment if you fail to do as


  • Two brothers were fighting a court case regarding the ownership of a plot. The judge issued a subpoena to the land development officer of their city and asked him to present all the documents that he had in his records about the disputed plot.
  • The police sought a subpoena to call the psychiatrist of the accused’s wife to court but the judge requested their request. 

Munificent: (adj) very generous, big-hearted.

Origin: L munus, gift + facere, to make => ‘one who has the generosity to give gifts to others’

  • The Maharaja gave munificent grants for setting up of art schools all over his kingdom.
  • When the family was checking out of the hotel, the mother suddenly remembered and called the waiter who had served them through their stay. She thanked him for his service and gave him one thousand rupees as a token of appreciation. He was so bowled over by her munificence that he didn’t know what to say!

Seine: (n) a large fishing net; (v) to catch fish with a seine.

Commune: (n) a small group of people living together; communication; (v) to communicate with.

Origin: L com-, together + munus, duty => ‘sharing duties’. The words ‘common’ and ‘community’ have the same etymology and, as per

etymology, ‘communicate’ means ‘to make common.’

  • The village Preet Nagar, set up near Amritsar by Punjabi writer Gurbaksh Singh Preetlari, became a commune of artists and writers.
  • People living in villages are in close commune with nature.

Excommunicate: (v) to take away the membership of a community.

Origin: L ex-, out + commune => ‘to throw out of the commune’

  • The Roman Catholic Church threatened to excommunicate the doctors who prescribed the abortion pill to women.
  • A khap panchayat in Haryana excommunicated a family for marrying their boy to a girl from the same sub-caste. Such a marriage was incestuous, the khap said.
  • Sunidhi promised to ‘try to come’ for the Reunion. Her college friends said they would excommunicate her if she didn’t turn up.

Incommunicado: (adj) not allowed to or able to communicate with others.

Origin: L in-, not + communicate => ‘the one to whom communication is denied.’

  • The assassin of the country’s Home Minister was kept incommunicado in an isolated prison cell for five years.
  • The terrorists stormed into the hotel auditorium, fired two muffled shots and declared to the staff and the guests that they were being taken hostages and should not stir from their position if they did not want to be shot. Next, they seized the cameras and the cellphones from everyone present, thus holding them incommunicado.

Remunerate: (v) to make payment for services or work; (n) remuneration.

Origin: L munus, gift (‘gift’ means ‘that which is given’) -> munerare, to give. So, re-, back + munerare => ‘to give back.’

  • IT companies remunerate their employees well.
  • The remuneration of some Bollywood stars is even higher than ` 10 crore.

Immune: (adj) proteced from disease or punishment; not affected by. Noun: immunity

Origin: L im-, not + munus, duty => ‘having no duty’ => ‘exempt’

  • During the hearing of a case about acceptance of a bribe by a district court judge, a Supreme Court judge remarked, “Judges have not descended from heaven. They too are fallible like other humans and when they do make mistakes, they are subject to the same laws aseveryone else. Judges are not immune to arrest. No citizen of India, whatever his rank may be, is above the law and he must face the penal consequences of infraction of law.”
  • The people of Zhaq had seen so much corruption for so long that became immune to it.

Disdain: (v) to think beneath oneself; (n) a feeling of contempt for something that one thinks is below one’s status.

Origin: L dis-, not + deign => ‘not think worthy’

  • Anjali and Laajo were both 10 years old but they were not friends because Laajo was the daughter of Anjali’s maid. Anjali disdained Laajo’s care for her and slapped her every now and then, just to show her that she was the boss. Laajo bore the humiliation quietly. One day, Anjali’s mother saw her speaking rudely to Laajo. She immediately reproached Anjali and asked her to say sorry to Laajo. “I do not bow before my servants,” Anjali replied with disdain.

“How dare you say such a thing to my daughter, baby ji?” Laajo’s mother who had just entered the room asked indignantly. “Laajo is

not your servant. I am working myself to death to send my daughter to school so that she can escape my fate. Tell me, in which field is

she any lesser than you that you treat her with such disdain? My daughter helps you in your homework and instead of thanking her,

you insult her!”

“Calm down Saraswati,” Anjali’s mother put her hand on the maid’s shoulder. “From today, Laajo, you will not give any help to Anjali,

in studies or otherwise. This is a condign punishment for someone who does not appreciate your help.”


Indigent: (adj) poor. An indigent person is also called an indigent. His poverty is his indigence.

  • India is a country of large scale indigence; 37.2% of the Indian population, that is, one out of every three Indians, lives below the poverty line.
  • In principle, the Indian law is accessible to all—the opulent and the indigent. The high costs of litigation however make justice unaffordable for the poor.

Trinket: (n) a piece of jewellery having little value.

Indignant: (adj) feeling angry because one thinks that one’s dignity has been compromised, or that one has been insulted.

Origin: L in-, not + dignus, worthy => ‘feeling that he has not been treated in the manner he was worthy of ’


Barb: (n) a cutting remark; a sharp part projecting from a wire or a fishhook, etc.

Dainty: (adj) delicate; overly particular.

Origin: L dignus, worthy => ‘beautiful’ => ‘delicate’

  • Cinderella wore dainty glass slippers with her blue gown.
  • Caterpillars evolve into dainty, beautiful butterflies.

Deign: (v) to think worthy or suited to one’s dignity.

Origin: L dignus, worthy

  • Anjali would not deign to say sorry to a mere servant’s daughter.
  • Aarti’s doorbell rang one day. She opened the door and lo, Jugnu was standing there! Aarti was still bitter about the bracelet incident which had happened months ago. So, she couldn’t help saying: “It’s my great fortune that the denizens of palaces deigned to visit my poor hut.”

Condign: (adj) well-deserved; fitting.

Origin: L con- + dignus, worthy => ‘worthy’

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