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Latin Roots 3: Pendo/pendeo, pendere, pependi, pensum - to hang; to weigh


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Latin Roots 3: Pendo/pendeo, pendere, pependi, pensum - to hang; to weigh

Latin Roots 3: Pendo/pendeo, pendere, pependi, pensum - to hang; to weigh


256px-PendelschwingungPendulumIf you are feeling pensive about this root, it is a good idea to spend some time on this blog. Pearls of wisdom will be dispensed, depend on it!

The Latin word pendo means hang, weigh or pay and its variant pendeo carries a similar meaning. This root also carries the meaning of weigh up or consider. Consequently, it has been the source of a large number of words in modern English.

A pendant is a hanging piece of jewellery that is usually attached to a necklace. A pendulum is a weight suspended from a pivot. It swings under the influence of gravity and is often used for timekeeping in clocks. Anything hanging downwards can be said to be pendulous

If you have a penchant for something, you are inclined towards it: you like it very much.

If something is pending, it is awaiting settlement or judgement - it is hanging in the air.

On many inventions, the words patent pending are written to show that the inventors have applied for a patent and that their works should not be copied.      


Here are some of the other derived forms.  

PenthousesPenthousesAppend (ad – on, to). To hang on or attach to. The credits for the pictures in this blog have been appended to the end of this post. At the end of a lot of reference books, there is an appendix or a series of appendices. The appendix in the human body is the tube at the end of the large intestine. For many years, this organ was believed to be a totally useless vestigial organ, but is now known to be important for the immune system and for cleaning the digestive system. If the appendix is infected, appendicitis may occur, and the appendix will be removed.

An appendage is something that is attached to a greater thing. For example, arms and legs are appendages to the human torso. The word penthouse denoting an attached building  comes from this root via French. It has been in English for centuries, and only gained the meaning of luxury apartment at the top of a skyscraper in the 20th century.

Compendium (com - with). Literally this means "the thing that is weighed together". It is a shortening, an abridged compilation of knowledge or a specific field, even though compendia/compendiums tend to be very large tomes indeed! The same root gives us the word compensation, of which more below.

Depend (de- from, down). Most of us depend on other people in some ways, we are to some degree, dependent. We hope that those we rely on are dependable when we need to test their dependability. If you are a dependant, you depend on another person or organisation for support. You can't survive independently.

dependency is a territory which relies on another state. Gibraltar is a dependency of the UK. Scotland is about to vote on independence from the rest of the UK. The vote will be monitored by independent observers to ensure that the vote is fair. 

Dependency may also mean an over-reliance on a drug to which a person is addicted.

Impending (in - in). The Latin verb impendere meant to hang over, and if something is impending it is imminent, or about to happen. This adjective often has a sense of threat. Whereas decisions and results are simply pending, your doom is invariably impending!

suspenders (GB)Suspenders (GB)suspenders (USA)Suspenders (USA) 

Suspend (sub - up to, under). If you suspend something, you hang it up, so that it is free on all sides.

Suspenders is an uncountable noun meaning very different things in British and American English. In British English suspenders are elastic straps holding up ladies' stockings.In American English these are known as garters. In American English, suspenders are worn across the shoulders and used to hold up trousers. In British English, these straps are known as braces.

You could suspend a balloon from the ceiling. If an event is suspended, it is delayed or stopped temporarily.

If you are suspended from your job, or your school, you are forced to leave for a certain period due to bad behaviour. This is a period of suspension.

A suspension bridge is a type of bridge in which the deck is hung below suspension cables.

A suspended sentence is when you serve a period of probation after being convicted of a crime. If you offend again during this period, you will go to prison.

If you have a feeling of suspense, you are wondering what is going to happen and you are curious and excited, as when you are reading a thriller or the Real English Blog!.


Now use some of the words in bold above to complete this tale of footballing misconduct. (Hover your mouse over the gaps to reveal the answers, or tap on mobile devices).

Although a talented enough footballer, Jones was not someone who could be _____questionmark_____ on to keep his head in moments of crisis. He had a _____questionmark_____ to make rash challenges which would lead to red cards and subsequent _____questionmark_____. he would also show dissent to the referees, accusing them of not being _____questionmark_____, and being biased towards opposition players. Last weekend, he was sent off again, and he is currently awaiting his _____questionmark_____ punishment.  

Next there is the story of a famous writer.  

As a great journalist, Popplethwaite's articles had been collected into a sizeable _____questionmark_____ of articles from his heyday in the 1940s to his death in 1992. His reliability was unquestioned by his superiors, and this _____questionmark_____ had led to him being sent to far flung colonies and _____questionmark_____ to report their quest for _____questionmark_____ following the Second World War. As something of an American dandy, he would always be impeccably dressed in shirt, tie and braces, or as he called them _____questionmark_____, which he preferred to a belt. Although old, his death was very sudden after complications from the peritonitis he contracted when his _____questionmark_____ burst.  


The following roots can all be used in connection with money and the weighing out of resources: Menai Suspension BridgeMenai Suspension Bridge

Compensate (com - with). As with compendium, this word carries the idea of balancing out and weighing up the costs and making them good. When you receive compensation, you are receiving money, goods or services to redress the balance and make things even. These are compensatory measures. A related verb is recompense, again meaning to reward a person for his work or services to you.

Dispense (dis - out). Dispensare is the frequentative Latin form of dispendere meaning to pay out, weigh out. In fact, you may well visit a cash dispenser, also known as a hole in the wall or ATM ( Automatic Teller Machine) if you want to get money from the bank without queuing up inside. When we dispense something we distribute it. Pharmacies dispense medicines to the sick, and many of these have traditionally been known as dispensaries.

In the Church, dispense was used with the meaning of give permission to do that which is usually forbidden. Popes and bishops would grant special dispensation in certain cases for people to contravene canon law, with regard to special marriages, diets during fasting periods etc. It then came to mean do away with, omit the unnecessary, if you could dispense with someone's services you didn't need them any more. They had become dispensable rather than indispensable.


Pension, Bier in Burg, GermanyPension, Bier in Burg, Germany

Expenses (ex - out, from). Your expenses are the amount of money you need to pay for or buy something. This will add up to your total expenditure. This may require a lot of money, and will be expensive. If things or people are expendable they can easily and economically be replaced or done without. The verb spend is a shortened form of this root and is nowadays used more for time and money while expend is preferred for the using up of energy, effort etc.

However, if you feel spent, it is because you have used up all your energy and you are exhausted. 

Pension. This comes from the Latin noun pensio, meaning payment, or rent. Pensions are paid in recognition of past services or a life time of work. They are paid to pensioners. The word pension is also used to describe a continental guest house, which rents out accommodation.



Now complete the story of an old lady who turned to crime.  

Seventy-five year old _____questionmark_____, Marianne Fazackerley was relieved to be given a two-week _____questionmark_____, by the judge when sentenced at Thistledown Court yesterday. She had been caught shoplifting from a supermarket and had stolen a few basic, _____questionmark_____ food items which she had tried to hide in her handbag. When arrested she had hit the policeman with her umbrella. She said that she had had no intention of stealing, but had been robbed herself a week earlier when taking money out of a _____questionmark_____. The police had failed to catch the mugger and Mrs Fazackerley, a widow, felt that the police had been unsympathetic and she had not been _____questionmark_____ for the theft of her money or the scare she had received. It was also revealed that following Government cuts, her finances were inadequate to her basic needs as her household _____questionmark_____ were not covered by her basic _____questionmark_____ and that she had to ______questionmark______ on food banks. She apologised for her "moment of madness" in the supermarket and promised not to reoffend. The judge accepted her apology and _____questionmark_____ some advice about not resorting to crime. However, he also gave her the most lenient punishment possible. He said that it was scandalous that old people could not be financially _____questionmark_____ and said that the court should _____questionmark_____ with such pointless cases. He stated that it was a waste of court time _____questionmark_____ time on trivial cases which would best be settled out of court with a degree of common sense.  


The root pendo is present in all the Romance languages. Hang is pendere in Italian, pendurar in Portuguese and pendre in French. The related forms are also prevalent. For example, the verb depend is represented by depender in Spanish and Portuguese, dépendre in French and dipende in Romanian.

Cognates often have this root in Germanic languages too. Compensate is compenseren in Dutch and kompensera in Swedish. There are similar connections in Slavic languages - компензовати /kompenzəuva:ti:/ in Serbian and компенсирам /kompensi:ram/ in Bulgarian, for instance.

I hope all of this has made you realise what an indispensable root this is and that you are no longer in suspense about the meaning of this incredibly useful Latin verb. That's all - service suspended, mealtime pending.    


Image Credits

Pendulum: By Stündle (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons Penthouses: By Arnaud 25 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons Suspenders (USA): By Brett L. from San Francisco, California, USA. Cropped and color-corrected from original by Daniel Case (Suspenders!) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons Suspenders (GB): By Jakkolwiek (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons Menai Suspension Bridge: By Mick Knapton at en.wikipedia Later version(s) were uploaded by Velela, BinaryFrog at en.wikipedia. [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], from Wikimedia Commons Pension, Bier in Burg: By J.-H. Janßen (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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