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Latin scandare to climb

To ‘ascend’ is to climb up, to ‘descend’ is to climb down, and to transcend, climb across. The other words into the business of climbing are: condescend, echelon


Latin vertere to turn

When you ‘reverse’ a car, you turn it back (L. re-, back). An ‘anniversary’ comes when the year turns, from first to second, second to third, or 24th to 25th (L. annus, year). In a cricket match of India ‘versus’ Australia, the two teams are turned against one another.


The ‘vertebrates’ are the animals that are able to turn around their head as well as their torso. They can do so because they have a spinal cord.

The totality of everything that there is, is called ‘Universe’. The word literally means ‘turned into one’ (Latin unus, one). The word ‘University’ is a shortening of the Latin phrase ‘universitas magistrorum et scholarium’ which meant ‘a universe of masters and scholars.’ Waiting to step into your private universe are the following vertere words:

Vertere-1: avert, aversion, averse

Vertere-2: adverse, adversity, adversary

Vertere-3: advert, inadvertently, animadversion

Vertere-4: divert, diversity

Vertere-5: universal, controvert

Vertere-6: incontrovertible, extrovert, introvert

Vertere-7: convert, converse, conversant

Vertere-8: wayward, froward, untoward

Vertere-9: pervert, traverse prosaic

Vertere-10: vertex, vertigo, vortex

Vertere-11: versatile, subversion, suzerainty, tergiversate

Vertere-12: obverse, converge, diverge

IE sekw- to follow

“Secretary! Follow me!”

This was the command that the domineering (and scheming) saas gave to her secretary after every few minutes in the movie ‘Biwi Ho to Aisi’. This was Salman Khan’s first movie and he had played devar to the biwi of the title, who was played by Rekha.


It is the job of secretaries to follow their masters and the word looks similar to sekw- too. But it is not derived from here. Secretary comes from secret-ary; so, by definition, he is the discreet man who knows and keeps all his boss’ secrets. A secretary is called sachiv in Hindi, and that is our word from the root sekw-. The sanskrit word Sachan means servitude, a following around.


In sachiv and sachan, the ‘following after’ is done for bread and butter, but you may also follow someone by volition, with no reason apart from the fact that you like being with him or her. That’s where the sanskrit word sachi comes in. It means friendship, intimacy. And, the person with whom you have sachi is your sakha or sakhi.


Just like sachi in Sanskrit, we have the word socius in Latin. It too is used for a companion or a friend. Socius is the root of ‘society’, ‘social’, ‘associate’ and ‘dissociate’.


Then, we have the Latin root sequi, to follow. The words from it are:

Sequi-1: sect, sequel, sequence

Sequi-2: consequence, consequential, ensue

Sequi-3: pursue, persecute, prosecute

Sequi-4: execute, obsequious, subsequent

Sequi-5: suitor, sequester

A ‘sequel’ follows what happened before. A ‘sequence’ is a set of things, one following the other. A ‘consequence’ is that which follows from a set of conditions. ‘Pursue’ comes from L. pro-, forward+ sequiand means to follow in order to overtake, capture or kill.’ To ‘execute’ is to follow out to the end. A ‘suitor’ is a man who follows either a woman, asking her to marry him, or a judge, asking him to grant him justice.


The English word sign is in this family too. A ‘sign’ is an identifying mark that you follow. The other ‘sign’ words are:


Assign, resignation, consign, designation, sigil, insignia


And, by the way, a thing that follows the first thing is called ‘second.’


Transcend: (v) to surpass; to go across.

Origin: L trans-, across + scandere, to climb

  • Raj Kapoor’s Awara is a classic film that transcended time and geography.
  • The Hindu religion believes in soul mates and relationships that transcend lifetimes. Marriage is a putative saat janam ka bandhan.

Putative: (adj) supposed, generally considered to be.


Condescend: (v) to look down upon; to agree to do something as a favour

Origin: L con- + de-, down + scandere, to climb


Echelon: (n) a rank.

Origin: L scandere, to climb -> scalae, ladder -> Fr. Eschelon, a step of a ladder

  • He joined the company in the lowest echelon and gradually worked his way up to the highest echelons.

Avert: (v) to prevent from happening.

Origin: L a-, away + vertere, to turn

  • Strikes are a regular feature in India. The government lacks the resolve to avert a strike and the labour unions are stubborn and insensitive to the hardships their strikes cause to the general public.
  • A major air collision was narrowly averted over the Indian Ocean between two passenger aircrafts which were flying at the same level.

Aversion: (n) dislike

Origin: L a-, away + vertere, to turn

  • Sumi has an aversion to loud music and loud people.

Averse: (adj) disinclined

Origin: same as above

  • Sumi was averse to going to the rock show with us.

Adverse: (adj) opposite, not favourable.

Origin: L ad-, towards + vertere, to turn

  • The national leaders at the time of Independence believed that the British rule had had an adverse impact on Indian industry, that the industry had been stunted by the imperial policies.

Adversity: (n) difficult situation; unfavourable situation.

Origin: same as adverse

  • The family members faced every adversity together.

Adversary: (n) enemy; opponent.

Origin: same as adverse

  • The brave hero of the movie defeated every adversary and emerged victorious in the end.

Advert: (adj) to refer to.

Origin: L ad-, to + vertere, to turn

  • The lawyer told the students about the various offences adverted to under the Section 195 of the Criminal Procedure Court.

Inadvertantly: (adv) unintentionally

  • Sulekha’s husband had told her not to tell anyone that he had recently appeared for a job interview. However, the fact inadvertently slipped out of her mouth when she was talking with her friends.

Animadversion: (n) critical remark.

Origin: L animus, mind + ad-, to + vertere, to turn => ‘to apply one’s mind to’ => ‘to analyze thoroughly’

  • The two old women’s conversation was a series of animadversions on fashion, television, religion, politics, daughters-in-law, sons, education, weather, old age and so on.

Divert: (v) to turn away from.

Origin: L dis-, apart + vertere, to turn

  • The clanging noise outside the classroom diverted the attention of the students.

Because the main road was being repaired, the traffic was diverted to the smaller roads.

Note: The word ‘divorce’ is a derivative of divert!


Diversity: (n) variety

Origin: L dis-, apart + vertere, to turn => ‘to turn in different directions’

  • India has unity in diversity. That is, in India, people from diverse religions, regions and cultures live together as one nation.

Universal: (adj) related with the universe, applicable to all, general.

Origin: L uni-, one + vertere, turn => ‘all together’

  • It is a universal truth that one reaps what one sows.

Controvert: (adj) to deny; contradict, prove false.

Origin: L contra, opposite + vertere, to turn => ‘to turn against’

  • He refused to controvert the slander hurled against him by the newspapers; he thought his record will speak for itself.

Incontrovertible: (adj) that which cannot be denied or proved false.

  • The detective produced incontrovertible evidence that the dead man had been killed by his own wife.

Extrovert: (n) one who expresses herself well and likes talking to people.

Origin: L extra-, out + vertere, to turn => ‘turned outwards’

  • In the movie Sholay, Veeru and Basanti are extroverts.

Introvert: (n) a person who keeps his thoughts to himself and in general talks little.

Origin: L intra-, in + vertere, to turn => ‘turned inwards’

  • In the movie Sholay, Jai and Radha are introverts.

Convert: (v) to change one’s religion or belief system.

Origin: L con- + vertere, to turn

  • Baba Saheb Ambedkar converted to Budhism.

Converse: (v) to talk.

Origin: L con- + vertere, to turn. The Hindi word ‘vaartaa’ also means ‘a talk’ and it too is from the Sanskrit root vrat-, meaning ‘to turn’


Conversant: (adj) familiar with.

Origin: from converse

  • He was well conversant with the culture of Saudi Arabia, where his company had deputed him for two years.

Wayward: (adj) turned away from the right or the usual path.

Origin: away + -ward => ‘turned away’. The suffix ‘-ward’ is a derivative of L vertere, to turn

  • The father thought of a plan to bring his wayward son on the right track.

Froward: (adj) unruly, not easily managed.

Origin: fro, against + -ward, turn

  • The father tried his best but could not tame his froward son.

Untoward: (adj) unfavourable

Origin: un + to, towards + -ward => ‘that which is not turned towards you’ => ‘that which is turned against you’


Pervert: (n) morally corrupted person; (v) to corrupt; to distort.

Origin: L per-, through + vertere, to turn => ‘to turn through’

  • The journalist was found guilty of perverting the news stories according to his personal beliefs.
  • The Marquis de Sade was a pervert. He held orgies, which frequently involved children, inflicted violence on the prostitutes that he visited and asked them to whip him back and indulged in group sex.

Traverse: (v) to go across; to travel

Origin: L trans-, across + vertere, to turn

  • Akako gave up her lucrative banker’s job to discover the joys of travelling. She traversed Asia through the land route from Japan, stopping in every country along the way, including India. She had been travelling continuously for three years when she entered Iran.
  • There are 6,00,000 villages in the country, tens of thousands of which are located at a distance of more than 10 km from a Primary Health Centre and devoid of traversable roads.

Prosaic: (adj) boring, dull, commonplace.

Origin: from ‘prose.’ Etymology of ‘prose’:

  • L pro-, forward + vertere, to turn => ‘to turn forward’ => ‘straightforward talk’ => ‘talk having no poetic imagery at all’ => ‘dull, unimaginative’
  • The prosaic writing style of the novelist failed to impress the readers.

Vertex: (n) an end-point of a triangle; a peak.

Origin: L vertere, to turn => ‘the turning point’


Vertigo: (n) dizziness

Origin: L vertere, to turn => ‘when the whole world seems to turn’


Vortex: (n) a whirlpool.

Origin: L vertere, to turn

  • “It is one of the worst effects of prosperity to make a man a vortex instead of a fountain; so that, instead of throwing out, he learns only to draw in.” Henry Ward Beecher

Versatile: (adj) having many talents.

Origin: L vertere, to turn => ‘turned in many directions’

  • Aamir Khan is a versatile actor. He can do action, comedy, romance and art cinema equally well.

Subversion: (n) overthrowing from the very foundations; to weaken the foundations of something.

Origin: L sub-, under +vertere, to turn => ‘to turn from under’

  • The media claimed that the court acquittal of a Cabinet Minister in a murder charge because of lack of evidence was a total subversion of justice. They said that the evidence had been deliberately held back by the police, the witnesses had been suborned and that the judges too had not pressed the police to be more serious.

Suzerainty: (n) lordship, dominion.

Origin: L sub-, up + versum, turned => ‘turned upwards’ => ‘the one who dominates’

  • Most Indian states accepted the suzerainty of the East India Company.

Tergiversate: (v) to avoid giving a straightforward answer or taking a clear action.

Origin: L tergum, back + versare, to turn

  • After long and hesitant tergiversation, the small telecom company decided to take up the offer of merger with the biggest telecom company of the country.

Obverse: (adj) the head side of a coin; the opposite side of something; something which is narrower at the base than at the top (therefore looks like it has been turned upside down).

Origin: L ob-, toward + versare, to turn

  • Indian currency notes have Gandhi’s face and the promissory note on the obverse side and the denomination of the note written in 15 Indian languages on the reverse side.

Converge: (v) to gather at one point.

Origin: L con-, together + vertere, to turn

  • The point where all the reflected rays from a mirror converge is called its focus.

Diverge: (v) to spread apart.

Origin: L dis-, apart + vertere, to turn

  • White light diverges into seven colours upon passing through a prism.

Servitude: (n) being in service to somebody.

  • Cinderella lived in virtual servitude with her evil stepmother and stepsisters.

Sect: (n) a group of people within a larger group who differ from the rest of the group in certain beliefs or practices and are, therefore, distinct.

Origin: L sequi, to follow -> secta, a path to follow

  • Shias and Sunnis are two sects of Islam.

Consequential: (adj) very important; resulting.

Origin: L con-,together + sequi, to follow => ‘that which follows, one who has many followers’

  • He was a consequential politician.
  • The President of the company accepted responsibility for the wrong expansion move and the consequential losses suffered by the company, and resigned.

Ensue: (v) follow

Origin: L en-, in + sequi, to follow

  • A long legal battle ensued after one brother usurped a plot of the other.

Persecute: (v) to pursue persistently, to harass continuously.

Origin: L per-, through + sequi, to follow

  • The government persecuted the minorities in order to keep the majority community happy.

Prosecute: (v) to put on trial in a court of law.

Origin: L pro-, forth + sequi, to follow => ‘to follow up on charges’

  • The two sides that fight a court case are—prosecution and defence. Prosecution tries to prove the charges on the accused and the defence tries to prove the accused innocent.

Obsequious: (adj) wagging his tail like a servant.

Origin: L ob-, to + sequi, to follow


Subsequent: (adj) following, happening afterwards.

  • After winning the election, the politician was surrounded by many obsequious followers who eagerly did more than he told them to and went to the extent of licking his boots in order to please him and get favors out of him.

Origin: L sub-, up + sequi,to follow => ‘to follow up’

  • Sita gave an agnipariksha subsequent to Ram’s telling her that they could never live together again because she had been with another man.
  • In the movie Rab ne banaa di Jodi, the heroine Tani loses her husband-to-be and his family in a bus accident within the first five minutes of the film, and is subsequently orphaned when her father suffers a heart attack on hearing the news.
    Sequester: (v) to isolate; to remove from activity; to take temporary possession of a person’s property till he settles his debts.

Origin: L sequi, to follow => sequester, a follower -> ‘a trustee’ =. ‘one who keeps goods for safekeeping’

  • The lawyers of the murder accused requested the judge to sequester the jury because they feared that the wide media discussion of the case could influence the decision of the jury.

Resign: (v) to give up one’s job or office; quit, especially by formal notification.

Origin: L re-, back, and signare, to seal=> ‘to unseal, annul.’


Consign: (v) to hand over officially to another’s care; to assign.

Origin: L com- + signare, to mark => ‘to hand over with an official seal’

  • The dead painter’s son consigned his paintings to the National Art Gallery.
  • The dead man’s son consigned his body to flames.

Sigil: (n) a seal.

Origin: L signum, mark


Insignia: (n) a distinguishing mark; a distinguishing mark of a rank.

Origin: L in-, in + signum, mark

  • The insignia of the oil major British Petroleum is a blooming flower.
  • The sub-inspector who risked his life while fighting with terrorists was rewarded with the insignia of the Director General of Police on the Republic Day.

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