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Latin Roots

by Mads

Dear Latin Teacher,

Can you help me with what the Greek or Latin roots would be for relevant, candid, discern, hypocritical, disdain, abstract, temper, enigma, and inevitable?

Thanks, Mads

Dear Mads,

Quite a long list of seemingly unrelated words. You also have a mix of Latin roots and Greek roots. So here it goes.

Relevant: from the Latin verb relevare, meaning to lift or to raise up. The present participle is relevans, relevantis. As usual, the English word takes its form from the stem of the genitive.

Candid: from the Latin candidus, -a, -um, meaning bright white or shining. I guess a candid remark is direct, glaring, not guarded or clouded in any way. Interesting that candidate comes from the same word. I have heard that Roman political candidates wore bright, white, recently washed togas.

Discern: the Latin verb cerno, cernere means to percieve, while discerno, discernere means to separate or to make a distinction. We discern the meaning of words, or we have discerning tastes in clothes, food, etc.

Hypocritical: the Greek root hypokrites means a stage actor. So a hypocrite is one who pretends to be what he is not.

Disdain: the Latin root dignus, -a, -um means worthy. See our page on dignus vocabulary words.

Abstract: from the Latin root traho, trahere, traxi, tractus, meaning to drag or to draw. Also the prefix ab-, meaning away. See our page on teaching prefixes. There are many prefixes to attach to this Latin root.

Temper: the Latin verb temperare means to blend or combine; also to make mild or to refrain from. So we have tempered steel and a quick temper.

Enigma: from Greek meaning a riddle or a saying with a hidden meaning. The Latin form is aenigma.

Inevitable: from the Latin verb vitare, meaning to avoid or to escape from. Evitare means to avoid or shun. In- as a prefix means not. So inevitable means not able to be avoided.

Hope this helps, and thanks for asking a Latin teacher.



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