Health Terminology: Seed

Another Latin root found in our health terminology is the Latin word semen. This third declension Latin noun means seed, such as seeds planted for crop production.

The full stem of the word comes from the genitive form, seminis, which means of seed. It is the root of many derivatives in English, as discussed below.

The Descriptive Power of Latin:

Science and medicine have taken this Latin word for seed and used it to describe the thick, white fluid ejaculated during intercourse by male mammals. Semen carries with it the seeds of reproduction known as sperm.

A short list of English derivatives from this Latin root will illustrate the power of studying Latin:

1. Disseminate: A verb meaning to scatter or spread widely as though scattering seeds. The prefix dis- means in all directions. The class president used flyers to disseminate information about the upcoming prom.

2. Inseminate: A verb meaning to put seed into. It can be used literally: The mare was artificially inseminated. Or it can be used metaphorically: Dr. King inseminated the nation with new ideas.

3. Seminal: Literally this adjective means of or pertaining to semen. It is often used, however, to describe highly original work that spawns new ideas in a particular field: The theory of evolution was Darwin’s seminal work.

4. Seminar: A seminar is a group meeting (especially an advanced college course) which is designed to stimulate ideas and discussions. You might think of it as a place where the seeds of research are planted.

5. Seminary: A seminary is a school where pupils are implanted with the seeds of religious devotion. The Seminarians are just beginning to sprout and grow in the spiritual life.

So from the Latin word semen we increase not only our reproductive vocabulary, but our general vocabulary as well.

Study more health terminology: Learn the Latin meaning of placenta!

Practice the Latin roots of reproduction!

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