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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...

Jun 12

Consonant Clusters 23: "Dr-" (Advanced)

The dr- cluster fronts hundreds of words in English, but one of its main uses is with words to do with liquid. Babies and toothless old crones dribble and drool when taking food and drink. If you get caught in the rain, you are liable to get drenched, though you have more chance...

Jun 7

Consonant Clusters 22: "Bl-" (Advanced)

When it comes to consonant clusters carrying implicit meaning, bl- is a beauty. Sometimes it conveys the idea of contained liquid under pressure, blooming and bloating. A second meaning implies colour, especially in connection with the eye - an organ filled with compressed fluid - which is coloured and sees in colour.

Eyes...

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...

Apr 13

Consonant Clusters 21 "Str-" (Advanced)

The consonant cluster str- often denotes a one dimensional object that is flexible, or at least, not stiff.

Str- is the cluster involved when you strum the strings of a guitar, when you strap yourself into your seat or when you tear strips off the person who makes your angry.

There is a lot of suppleness involved in the straining and...

Mar 25

Consonant Clusters 20: "Sm-" (Advanced)

The consonant cluster sm- often applies to spread contact with a surface.

Sm- usually involves pressure: when wood is smoothed down, the whole of the surface has been rubbed.

Sm- presses close, but then opens out: if you smear something on a surface, you spread the...

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...

Feb 20

Consonant Clusters 19: "Pl-" Advanced

Although the pl- cluster is used in hundreds of different English words and thus has many different meanings as a cluster, one of its common elements is describing thickness. The pl- cluster often denotes layered and deliberate design, usually regarding two dimensional space.

The prime origin of this is the Proto-Indo-European root *plek- "to plait, twist". Ploughmen plough thick furrows into...

Jan 19

Consonant Clusters 18: "Sw-" Advanced

The consonant cluster sw- swings and swishes, swivelling around and about.

From swanky swashbucklers strutting their stuff to snake-hipped swaggerers from the swinging sixties, this cluster often shows rotary motion.

Swiping, swishing, swooping and swirling, there...

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 ...