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An ostentatious person is showy; he likes showing off his wealth, or his sophistication or his knowledge. He is also called pretentious. The ostensible reason for which Champak Motwani had thrown the party was to celebrate his son Chintu’s birthday; his actual motive was to show off his wealth and status to his sister’s poor boyfriend. He wanted to put that pauper into his rightful place who thought that he could marry his sister.


Seeya Motwani’s astrologer had predicted that Chintu’s birthday was going to be a momentous day for her. “Of course, it was going to be!” she cooed happily. Senjil was going to meet her brother for the first time that day. Bhaiya had been so good when she had told him about Senjil. She hadn’t really expected that divulgence to go so smoothly. The battle had been won, she thought, because nobody who met her Senu could stop himself from being impressed!

Perhaps, bhaiya would talk about their marriage at the party itself! She kept smiling and blushing the whole day. Nothing, no one—not her astrologer, not any omen—could portend the plan her brother had made for the party.


Latin tenuis thin

The Indian female names Tanu and Tanima both mean ‘slim and slender’.


There is an old Hindi movie, starring Shashi Kapoor, Rakhi and Zeenat Aman, titled Bandhan kachche dhaagon ka. The English translation of the title would be ‘The bond of tenuous threads.’ (Of course, the bond in question is the bond of marriage, which ironically, is also touted as the saat janamon ka atoot bandhan, again by the Hindi movies.)


In the movie, Shashi Kapoor’s character, happily married to Rakhi, with two kids already brought into the world, sleeps with Zeenat Aman after singing a song in the rain with her. Later, he tries toextenuate his infidelity by saying ‘it just happened’, as if it was the rain’s fault to have come when he was alone with an attractive woman.


The discovery of her husband’s escapades would attenuate the faith of any wife. But, films are films; so, as always, the other woman dies and the wife forgives and our hero lives happily ever after.


Latin tenere to hold, keep, maintain

To ‘contain’ something is to hold it within specified limits. A ‘container’ holds all the things within its volume; those things are called its ‘contents’.


A ‘content’ man is satisfied because he has ‘contained’ his desires or expectations. That is precisely what a malcontent man has not been able to do. This guy wants the society to be perfect and the fact that it makes him dissatisfied and restless. He rants against the laws and the leaders and the leprous system and talks of changing everything, reforming everything and vows not to rest till his utopia is attained.


The way one contains himself is called his countenance. Imagine putting a plateful of chocolates before Chocoozoo, who you know loves chocolates, and then strictly forbidding him to have any. The poor guy! The rich…soooooo richly brown…smooth…looking-so-yummy…delectable…sweet…chocolatesaretherebeforehimand…he-can-NOT-eat-them… “Look away!” he admonishes himself...he cannot have them…oh, why, why, why…why can he not have them? What if he has just one tiny little piece? Just one! No one will come to know, just one, promise! “No, look away!” the strict inner voice chideshim again.


So, the poor Chocoozoo has contained himself but only with great difficulty. This is easily apparent to anyone who is observing him. His face, his twitching body betrays his strong craving. That is why the word countenance means one’s face or the facial expressions that betray his state of mind or his demeanour.


Ostentatious: (adj) showy, done to show-off.

Origin: L ob-, in front of + tendere, to stretch => ‘to display’

  • Ostentatious wedding, an ostentatious house built with `50 crore.

Pretentious: (adj) showing-off, pretending to be somebody or something important.

Origin: L pre-, before + tendere, to stretch => ‘to display’


Ostensible: (adj) for the show, not actual.

Origin: L ob-, in front of + tendere, to stretch => ‘to display’

  • Aunty Meera had invited her pretty niece to stay with her in summers, ostensibly so that the girl might see a little of the fashionable Mumbai life while also escaping from the scorching Delhi heat, but her actual motive was to introduce the girl to Rahul, the eligible young son of her rich friend Shanta.

Divulgence: (n) revealing of a secret.

Origin: L dis- + vulgus, the common people => ‘to make known among the common people’ => ‘to tell everybody’

  • After the two children fought, the sister divulged her brother’s secret—that he had not gone to the school the day before in order to miss a class test—to their mother.

Portend: (v) predict. The prediction, thus, made is called a portent.

Origin: L pro-, forward + tendere, to stretch


Tenuous: (adj) thin, weak, delicate.

Origin: L tenuis, thin


Tout: (v) hype


Extenuate: (v) to lessen the seriousness of a mistake or a crime.

Origin: L ex-, out + tenuis, thin => ‘thin out’ => ‘to make thinner’ => ‘to weaken’


Escapade: (n) an instance of unrestrained behaviour.

Origin: escape + -ade => ‘an escape from all restrictions’


Attenuate: (v) to weaken the intensity or amount of something.

Origin: L ad-, towards + tenuis, thin => ‘to take towards thinness’


Malcontent: (adj) dissatisfied with his current circumstances.

Origin: mal-, not + content


Utopia: (n) an ideal place, where all is perfect.

Origin: Gk eu-, good + topos, place

In the following song, a father paints the picture of a utopia for his son:

Aa chal ke tujhe main le ke chalun, ikk aise gagan ke tale

Jahaan gamm bhi na hon, aansoo bhi na hon

Bas pyaar hi pyaar pale.

The opposite of Utopia is Dystopia.

(n) a place where life is extremely bad and full of miseries, disease, want, poverty, filth, oppression, etc.

Origin: Gk dys-, bad + topos, place


Countenance: (n) face or facial expressions that betray one’s state of mind; (v) to tolerate.

Origin: L com-, together + tenere, to hold => ‘the ability to hold oneself together’

  • A jealous man cannot countenance the success and happiness of others.

Demeanour: (n) manner of conduct.

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