May 4

Latin Roots 12: claudo, claudere, claudi, clausum - to close, confine, limit

Another fertile Latin root that has been heartily embraced by English is claudo "to close, confine". Claudo is thought to derive from the Proto-Indo-European root *klau- "hook, peg, nail". Hooks and pegs were used as bolts or bars for doors in primitive structures and so it is logical that many current Indo-European words for "key" derive from this ancient source. These include French clĂ© and Italian chiave (from Latin clavis),...

Feb 16

Latin Roots 11: capio, capere, cepi, captum - to take, capture, understand

The Latin roots discussed so far have had a massive influence on the English language and the root capio "to take, to capture" is no exception. English has been the recipient of so many words from this source, that it would be little exaggeration to say that capio has taken English captive, with a princely number of words from this root accepted into the language. Interestingly, capio goes back to...

Jan 10

Latin Roots 10: struo, struere, struxi, structum - to build, prepare

A large body of English words have been constructed from the Latin root struo - "build" and also "prepare". This root is believed to go back to a Proto-Indo-European root *stere meaning "spread" or "stretch". This PIE root is the ancestor of English straw, street, strew and strain amongst many other str- words. Many other languages have also taken words from this root and a comparison of the related...

Oct 18

Latin Roots 9: traho, trahere, traxi, tractum - to draw, drag (Advanced)

This post will treat the Latin root traho and its derivatives.Traho comes from the Indo-European root *tragh, meaning "drag" or "draw". It may also be more distantly related to the PIE root *dheragh, which gave Old English dragan - "drag, draw, pull", the ancestor of both "drag" and "draw". One of the attractions of traho is the number of useful terms Latin derived from this root which have since been borrowed by English. Things get dragged into...

Jul 24

Latin Roots 8: "Verto, vertere, verti, versum" - to turn

In this post, we have reverted to an examination of another productive Latin root, verto. This root means "turn" and it is the basis of a large number of derived forms which have also entered English.

Although most English words from this root entered the language via Latin, the root can be traced back even further to a Proto-Indo-European root *wert- meaning "turn, bend". In Germanic languages, the meaning of this root evolved to "turns of fate", and what things...

Jul 5

Latin Roots 7: "Mitto, mittere, misi, missum" - to send, to let go (Advanced)

A large number of English words can be traced back to the Latin root mitto and its derived forms. Mitto means "send, send forth, let go", and also "abandon".

In the daughter languages of Latin, the meaning is primarily "put" as in French mettre, Italian mettere, Catalan metre and Spanish and Portuguese meter. The mission of this blog post is to transmit information about this root to a wider public!

It would be...

May 23

Latin Roots 6: "Porto, portare, portavi, portatum" - to carry

The Latin root porto has given English a multitude of words. The word means "carry" and this important root is present in some of our most common words.

When we go travelling abroad, we all need a passport and if we are feeling rich we may hire a porter to carry our portable luggage.

Every second, goods are imported from other countries and exported abroad, a fact of very...

Mar 3

Latin Roots 5: "Seco, secare, secui, sectum" - to cut

The Latin root seco has provided English with numerous derived forms. This section of the blog will show how words in different languages intersect and will show how words so seemingly far apart as sex, insect and segment are all, in fact, derived forms of the Latin verb secare: to cut.

Confusion abounds with this root, though, as many seemingly related words, such as sect and...

Nov 30

Latin Roots 4 (Advanced) Teneo, tenere, tenui, tentum - To hold

The Latin verb teneo means hold or have. From this root, Latin derived a multiplicity of other forms, which spread into Romance languages and via Latin and French into English.

Teneo is an ancient root which can be traced back to Proto-Indo-European *ten meaning pull or stretch. This meant that many languages had words derived from *ten even before Latin influenced their lexicons.

For example, Ancient Greek had ...

Aug 28

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

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


If 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...