Latin Root PECUNIA

Use the Latin root pecunia to help build a wealth of English vocabulary words.

Latin Word of the Week (October 15, 2008):

Pecunia, pecuniae
money, wealth

Money makes the world go round! In the ancient world that meant cattle. The root of the Latin word for money is pecus, meaning livestock or flock.

Animals were at the center of ancient economies. So it makes sense that the Romans related wealth to flocks of sheep and cattle.

What's so amazing and useful today is that we use the very same root in English. How many of these words do you already know?

Pecuniary: having to do with money. Running a red light carries a pecuniary punishment. A rich and famous person may fall into pecuniary troubles.

Pecunious: full of money and wealth. All the members of the country club were pecunious, or at least they all projected that image.

Impecunious: not full of money or wealth, poor, dispossessed. The impecunious family was in danger of losing its water and electric service.

Peculiar: strange, odd; belonging only to a specific person or group. A quality or characteristic belonging only to one person may be called a peculiarity. He possesses that quality, it is his own.

Peculate: to embezzle, to take dishonestly. The officers of the trust fund peculated funds from the family they were supposed to be protecting.

Peculium: a special fund used for private and personal use. The family chauffeur was given a peculium, which he used for coffee and cigarettes.

Pecunial: an obsolete form of pecuniary, found in the works of Chaucer. But readers who know Latin would never have to look it up!

The Roots of Money

Romans were not the only ancient people to associate money and wealth with flocks of animals. The English word fee is derived from the Old English feoh, meaning cattle, wealth or money.

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