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Words From Latin and their Histories


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The origins of most of the following words can be traced to Latin.

1. aberration (ab'* ra"sh*n) This word comes from the Latin verb "aberrare," to wander away from. A person with a psychological "aberration" exhibits behavior that strays from the accepted path; hence the word means deviation from what is common, normal, or right.

Ex: I also looked into the immense size of chromatic aberration in the human eye.

2. abominate (* bom"* nat') "Abominate" is from the Latin "abominor," meaning I pray that the event predicted by the omen may be averted. The Romans murmured the word to keep away the evil spirits whenever anyone said something unlucky. Today we use it to mean to regard with intense aversion or loathing; abhor.

Ex: The movie scene caused great abomination upon the audience.

3. abracadabra (ab'r* k* dab"r*) This intriguing-sounding word was first used as a charm in the second century. The Romans believed that the word had the ability to cure toothaches and other illnesses. Patients seeking relief wrote the letters in the form of a triangle on a piece of parchment and wore it around their necks on a length of thread. Today "abracadabra" is used as a pretend conjuring word. It also means meaningless talk; nonsense.

4. wiseacre (wiz"a'k*r) Although the word "acre" in "wiseacre" makes it appear that the term refers to a unit of measurement, "wiseacre" is actually used contemptuously to mean a wise guy or a smart aleck. The term comes from the Dutch "wijssegger," which means soothsayer. There is a famous story in which the word was used in its present sense. In response to the bragging of a wealthy landowner, the English playwright Ben Jonson is said to have replied, "What care we for your dirt and clods? Where you have an acre of land, I have ten acres of wit." The chastened landowner is reported to have muttered: "He's Mr. Wiseacre."

Ex: Along for the ride is his randy wiseacre albatross companion, Kir, who is constantly getting the pair into difficulties.

5. ebullient (i bul"y*nt, i b»l"-) This word derives from the Latin "ebullire," to boil over. A person who is "ebullient" is overflowing with fervor, enthusiasm, or excitement.

Ex: We wish her all the best and will miss her cheery smile and ebullient character.

6. enclave (en"klav, än"-) The word "enclave" refers to a country or territory entirely or mostly surrounded by another country. More generally, it means a group enclosed or isolated within a larger one. The word comes ultimately from Latin "inclavare," to lock in.

Ex:Having a shot spanish enclaves only the homework they the southern hills.

7. expedite (ek"spi dit') The word "expedite" means to speed up the progress of something. It comes from the Latin "expedire," to set the feet free.

Ex: To further expedite the approval process, you can apply online.

8. expunge (ik spunj") To indicate that a soldier had retired from service, the ancient Romans wrote a series of dots or points beneath his name on the service lists. The Latin "expungere" thus meant both to prick through and to mark off on a list. Similarly, the English word "expunge" means to strike or blot out; to erase.

Ex: And how do you expunge a criminal record, anyway?

9. inchoate (in ko"it, -at) "Inchoate" comes from the Latin "inchoare," to begin. Thus, an "inchoate" plan is not yet fully developed, or rudimentary.

Ex:The question of the audience and the society for poems was there in a very inchoate form.

10.prevaricate(pri var"i kat') Today "prevaricate" means to speak falsely or misleadingly with deliberate intent; to lie. It has its origin in a physical act. The Latin verb "praevaricare" means to spread apart. The plowman who "prevaricated," then, made crooked ridges, deviating from straight furrows in the field.

Ex:He accused Saddam of prevaricating for 12 years and failing to disarm his " horrific arsenal " of chemical and biological weapons.


Sample Usage

1) Two ED glass elements minimize chromatic aberration in the entire zoom range while ensuring high resolution and contrast.

2)The image, despite the spherical aberration, was by far superior to any existing microscope made by his contemporaries.

3)World Wide Words An excellent site giving the etymology of abracadabra ( always a favorite of mine ) to zorbing.

4)Along for the ride is his randy wiseacre albatross companion, Kir, who is constantly getting the pair into difficulties.

5) His good humor, ebullient personality, courage and vivaciousness made him very popular with all ranks within the Regiment.

6)The Health Club is 50 meters away and is shared by the surrounding enclave of chalets.

7) It is designed to expedite product approval with little or no regard for safety.

8) It was not until Woolmington v. D.P.P. [ 1935 ] A.C. 462 that it was finally expunged.

9) The question of the audience and the society for poems was there in a very inchoate form.

10) I'm still prevaricating over modes of transport to ALDC ' s meeting in Hebden Bridge tomorrow.


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