Health Vocabulary: Witnesses

Latin roots are at the core of our health vocabulary, including the Latin word testes. This third declension Latin noun means witnesses. The word testes is without doubt related to the words testicle, testify and testimony.

Although the derivation is uncertain, the truth remains that the Latin word testis means both witness and testicle, referring either to a third party in a legal case or to the male reproductive gland.

The Descriptive Power of Latin:

Some scholars say the Romans had a habit of holding themselves by the testicles when making an oath, and so the word for witness came to be used also for the male reproductive gland. Other scholars say that theory is pseudo-history, and that a more likely cause is the learned borrowing of the Greek word parastates, meaning standing side by side.

A witness is a sort of bystander, and the glands of the male reproduction system do stand beside one another in a pair.

What’s the Latin meaning of semen?

Return to Health Lesson Plans

Return from Health Vocabulary to Vocabulary Lesson Plans