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Geography Lesson Plan:
Earth vs. Ground

Make your next geography lesson plan an explosion of new vocabulary. The Roman words for earth and ground will help you teach and explain dozens of English derivatives. Help make connections that students will remember for a lifetime.

Latin Word of the Week (1/27/2008):


earth vs. ground

Every language has words that are closely related in meaning, but not quite synonymous. Latin is no exception: The Roman words for land and ground give us several interesting English derivatives.

Geography Lesson Plan – Vocabulary Building:

Derivatives of TERRA and HUMUS

_terrestrial vs. humble: Something terrestrial is of the earth; something humble is low to the ground. A redwood tree is terrestrial, as opposed to aquatic, but it is certainly not humble. In fact it is quite lofty.

_inter vs. inhume: To inter is to put into the earth, to bury; to inhume is also to put into the ground. In this case, these verbs are synonymous.

_interment vs. inhumation: These nouns are synonymous also, both meaning a burial. Both also use the prefix in-.

_disinter vs. exhume: To disinter means to unbury, to dig up what has been interred. To exhume means to take out from the ground. Very close in meaning, but with different prefixes.

More derivatives of TERRA

_extraterrestrial (adj/n): outside of earth, beyond earth. In science fiction, an alien being.

_terrain (n): the lay of the land, the landscape and its physical features.

_terrasphere (n): an instrument to show how the earth moves on its axis to create day and night and around the sun to create seasons.

_terrier (n): dog of the earth. These dogs were bred to dig tunnels and chase prey from under the soil.

_territory (n): any region, district, or tract of land.

_territorial (adj): of or pertaining to land or territory.

_terrine (n): a serving dish made of clay pottery.

_terracotta (n): a ceramic clay used for pottery, in Italian it means cooked earth, baked earth.

More derivatives of HUMUS

_humility (n): the quality or personal trait of being humble, lowly, low to the ground. He spoke with humility of his numerous athletic achievements.

_humiliate (v): to cause a person to feel lowly. Literally, to put to the ground or to force to the ground. She was humiliated by her poor test grade.

_posthumous (adj): (Not a true derivative). Today, the word posthumous means after death or after burial. But this is a false derivative: Its true meaning is last-born, or born after the death of the father. It is derived from the Latin word postumus, meaning last or final. The ‘h’ was added in the fifteenth century by association with Latin humus and humare (to bury).

Latin Phases in English:

_terra nova (n): Latin for new land. Neil Armstrong walked on terra nova when he stepped onto the surface of the moon. In your first job after graduation, you may be on terra nova, i.e. unfamiliar territory.

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