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behaving as if likely to attack
AD - to, towards, at
GRESS - to walk, to go
IVE - tending to, like, to do with
AD is a Latin word, but we use it as a prefix. In English it is seen in a huge variety of words, although we don't often notice it. It is a bit of a chameleon: it changes its APpearance ACcording to the word it is ATtached to! AD often changes its letter D to double the initial letter of the word, as in APPROPRIATE, ANNOUNCE, ASSERTIVE, etc.
GRESS is a root that simply means TO WALK, TO GO. You can add many prefixes to it to give it a variety of nuances, such as CONGRESS (to come together, meet), DIGRESS (to go away from) and PROGRESS (to go forward).
the practice of exchanging favours for mutual benefit - doing something in return
RECIPROCITY is exactly the kind of word Sound Training loves, because it sneaks in two of our favourite useful prefixes AND a suffix too!
RE - back, again
PRO - forwards, in front
ITY - state, condition, practice, quality
It literally translates as 'the state of going backwards and forwards'. We usually use it figuratively to refer to giving and taking. A feeling that is mutual is RECIPROCATED, and a RECIPROCAL agreement binds two parties equally to responsibilities and rights. In machinery RECIPROCATING is used more literally, so that a RECIPROCATING blade is one which moves backwards and forwards.
Other RE words using the sense 'back' are REPEL, REMOTE, REDUCE and RECEDE. More PRO words meaning 'forwards' are PROPEL, PROMOTE, PRODUCE and PROCEED.
to reduce strength, destroy
We now use DECIMATE as a general synonym for 'destroy' or 'weaken'. However, its origins are much more specific and brutal:
DECI - a tenth (DECEM is Latin for 10)
ATE - to make into, become
Literally DECIMATE means 'to make into a tenth': in English in the Middle Ages it referred to the taking of a tithe, or a tenth of your income, in taxes. However, the original Latin word, DECIMARE, was a military punishment for mutiny or desertion. The officer of the cohort of soldiers (480 men) being punished would divide his men into groups of ten, who would draw lots. The soldier from each group who drew the short straw would be beaten to death - and the other nine soldiers would have to do it. Of course it meant that the victim in your group could be a close friend, or might have been totally innocent of the crime. Or indeed, it could be you. A horrible punishment for all involved.
There are actually two similar prefixes involving the number ten, with slightly different meanings: DECI, as above, means a TENTH of something, while DECA means TEN of something. So a DECAMETRE means TEN metres, while a DECIMETRE means a TENTH of a metre. Hence, a DECADE is TEN years, a DECAHEDRON is a TEN-sided 3D shape, but a DECIGRAM is a TENTH of a gram, and a DECIBEL is a measurement of loudness equal to a TENTH of a bel.
a possible future circumstance, or a plan for one
Originally from the Latin verb TANGO - 'to touch', CONTINGENCY breaks down like this:
CON - together, with
TING - touch (also TANG and TACT)
ENCY - state, quality
A CONTINGENCY is literally 'something which touches you', or to put it another way, something which affects you or happens to you. We now use it more often to mean a plan for something which may happen to you.
Sticking with the idea of TOUCH, linked words are:
CONTACT - literally 'to touch together'
TACTFUL - literally 'full of touch': full of sensitivity to others
TANGENT - literally 'touching' (ENT = ing): in maths, a line or plane that touches a curve without crossing it; 'to go off at a TANGENT' means to start from a point of reference but continue on a different subject
TACTILE - to do with the sense of touch, designed to be touched, pleasant to touch, prone to touching others
TANGIBLE - able to be touched (IBLE = able to), solid, real
quick, not in detail
CURSORY is an adjective describing an action done in a rush: a CURSORY glance at an email, without fully focusing on it or replying; a CURSORY wipe of the dinner table after a meal, removing the obvious crumbs but not cleaning thoroughly. It comes from the Latin verb CURRO meaning 'I run':
CURS - running
OR - a person or thing doing an action
Y - with this quality (an adjective ending)
The original meaning, then, was "fast like a runner". It is clearly linked to CURSOR, which originally meant a runner in a race or a messenger, an errand-boy. Its modern usage, as a marker on a computer screen, refers to the fact that it can RUN through the text or page freely. It is also linked to CURRENT - literally 'running', either as in CURRENT affairs (things happening now), or as in the CURRENT of a river.
For further linked words, and for other vocabularly Wow! moments, visit our Word of the Week Blog at www.soundtraining.co.uk/blog!
to do with trading and making money
The root of our word COMMERCIAL is the Latin word MERCES, which was used to mean a reward, payment, wages, goods, etc.
COM - together, with
MERC - payment, goods (trading)
AL - to do with
This root also appears in MERCHANT and MERCENARY (a soldier who fights for whoever will pay him, not out of loyalty to any nation), and the old-fashioned MERCER (a dealer in luxury fabrics - silks, furs, etc.). MARKET is a corrupted version of MERC, and MERCANTILE also describes the business of trading.
Interestingly, the early Christian Church took this Latin word and used it to mean a heavenly reward for those who show kindness to others. In early French it was spelled MERCI - hence the modern French word for 'thank-you': when someone had helped you, you said this to express the hope that they would receive their heavenly reward. Later on the medieval church explained that this heavenly reward for charity was God's forgiveness for his faithful for their sins - or MERCY.
clearly stated, decided or defined
DEFINITE is clearly linked to the word FINISH; they both come from the Latin verb FINIO meaning 'I finish, set limits to':
DE - down
FIN - end, limit, boundary
ITE - an adjective ending
So a literal definition would be 'setting down the limits of something'; and when you set down something's limits, you show exactly what it is and is not.
The word DEFINE is obviously the root word for DEFINITE, and DEFINITION is then the act or result of DEFINING (TION = act, process, result). But had you spotted these linked words?
CONFINE - to keep someone within certain limits (CON - together)
AFFINITY - a liking or understanding of something or someone (from the idea of being a close neighbour to someone, living close by the border to their land: AF/AD - at, to, ITY - state of)
INFINITE - unending (IN - not ; ITE - adjective)
INFINITVE - the part of a verb shown as 'to ...', e.g. 'to be', 'to have', 'to run'; in this form, the verb is not limited by tense, person, number or mood (IN - not; ITE - adjective; IVE - by nature)
FINE - describing something that is right as it is, does not need any work doing to it - it is, in fact, FINISHED!
to make someone or something feel or look younger again
RE - again, back
JUVEN - young (young person)
ATE - to make into, become
Try not to think about JUVENILE delinquents - concentrate instead on Italian football team JUVENTUS - fitness, health and vigour! We get this word from the Latin IUVENIS (the initial letter 'i' is said as a 'y' sound, as in yellow), meaning a young person, in the prime of life.
adding extra features or information in order to improve, emphasize or complete
COMPLEMENTARY is often mixed up with COMPLIMENTARY, which of course often means flattering, nice. Unfortunately, they come from the same Latin origins:
COM - together, altogther
PLE - filling
MENT - an action, or the result of an action
ARY - to do with, like
So the basic sense of both words is of completing or fulfilling something. However, over time COMPLIMENT became used more specifically to mean 'to fulfill the demands of politeness and courtesy'. Dr Johnson, the dictionary compiler, commented that a COMPLIMENT generally meant 'less than it declares'!
The easiest way to remember the difference between COMPLEMENT and COMPLIMENT in modern English is to remember that COMPLEMENT is closer to COMPLETE: they share the letter 'E' and they share their meaning too. Yin comPLEments Yang; a co-ordinating tie or scarf comPLEments a suit; team members with different skills can comPLEment each other: they contribute something which creates a successful whole.
Other words which use the Latin root PLE or PLEN are PLENTY, IMPLEMENT (to put into action, or FULFILL a plan), and DEPLETE (to empty or reduce - DE = opposite).
the main church of a diocese - the SEAT of Christian authority for the area
In the Christian church the cathedral is the main church for a diocese presided over by a bishop - the bishop's headquarters, if you like. Originally it was referred to as the 'cathedral church'. It is, quite literally, the SEAT of the bishop's power, for CATHEDRAL comes from the Ancient Greek KATHEDRA meaning a chair or throne.
CATA - down
HEDRA - a seat, base
AL - to do with
So the CATHEDRAL is the church where the bishop has his throne, representing his authority within the Church as a whole.
KATA (or the anglicized CATA) is seen in many words such as CATASTROPHE (a down-turning of someone's fortunes), but HEDRA is rather rarer. However, students of geometry may well recognise it from shape-names such as TETRAHEDRON, DECAHEDRON, POLYHEDRON, etc. where it is used to mean 'face', giving us solid shapes with 4 (TETRA), 10 (DECA) or many (POLY) faces.
a large, herbivorous dinosaur with three horns
Dinosaur names are fascinating to break down, as they contain so much detail about each creature! TRICERATOPS tells us the most important features of this prehistoric giant:
TRI - three
KERAS, KERATOS - horn (sometimes spelt CERAS, CERATOS)
OPSIS - face, eyes (from Greek verb ORAO, to see)
A creature which is related by name, if not by genes, to the TRICERATOPS is the RHINOCEROS (RHINO = nose, CEROS = horn). KERAS is more often seen in chemical terms, and is often seen on adverts for shampoos and conditioners containing KERATIN, the protein which makes hair, nails, horn, feathers, etc.
Finally, many of our words to do with sight and eyes come from the same Greek verb as OPSIS, so we get OPtician, OPtical, OPthamology, etc.
technology using microelectronics such as microchips and microcircuits
MICROTECHNOLOGY comes from the Greek word TECHNE, meaning skill, craft or art, and therefore denotes anything man-made:
MICRO - small
TECHNE - skill, art, craft
OLOGY - the study or science of
MICROTECHNOLOGY describes much of modern electronic and computer-based technology, as the prefix MICRO here refers to components or features measuring around 1 micrometre (or one millionth of a metre!) - usually parts such as microchips and microcircuits in a computer, etc.
Although these days we usually assume TECHNOLOGY only refers to computers, the internet, etc., on its own it actually describes any scientific knowledge used in practical ways to create new inventions. Once upon a time, paper and pencils were cutting edge technology!
TECHNOLOGY is used to describe inventions and progress in many different areas - BIOTECHNOLOGY (bio = living things) and CYTOTECHNOLOGY (cyto = cells) in medicine, PYROTECHNICS - the creation and display of fireworks (pyro = fire) and GEOTECHNOLOGY in civil engineering to modify rocks and soil (geo = rocks, earth).
in a beautiful way, pleasing to the eye
AESTHETICALLY is rooted in the Ancient Greek verb AISTHANOMAI, "I perceive, sense' :
AESTHET - sensing, perceiving
ICAL - to do with
LY - in this particular way
The word AESTHETICS was used by philosophers and scientists to describe general perception by the senses until the middle of the 1700s. However, the German philosopher Alexander Baumgarten then used it to describe the philosophical study of art and natural beauty, in particular the criticism of artistic taste, and this use stuck - by the 1830s it was commonly used in Britain too.
AESTHETICALLY is linked to several medical terms through its original meaning:
ANAESTHETIC - a drug used to numb feeling during medical procedures (prefix AN = not)
HYPERAESTHESIA - a condition of physical over-sensitivity, especially in the skin (prefix HYPER = over, above, too much)
PARAESTHESIA - an abnormal prickling sensation caused by pressure or damage to nerves - better known as 'pins and needles'! (prefix PARA = beside, beyond, different to)
* Many thanks to author ADELE PARKS for suggesting our new WORD OF THE WEEK! *
the four hundredth anniversary of an event
This week we commemorate the QUADRICENTENARY of the death of William Shakespeare.
QUADRI - four
CENT - hundred
ENNI comes from Latin ANNUS, a year
AL - to do with
ANNUS is seen, in slightly different guises, in gardening words such as PERENNIAL (lasting a long time, literally 'through the year': per = through) and BIENNIAL (flowering every two years: bi= 2), and in other celebratory time phrases such as MILLENNIUM (a period of 1000 years: mille = 1000) and BICENTENNIAL (two hundredth anniversary, bi = 2, cent = 100, al = to do with).
There are several variations of the prefix for the number four - quadri, quadru, quart, quat, quattro, quad - but they all originate from the Latin number 4, QUATTUOR.
likely to change your mind or mood quickly
When you are CAPRICIOUS you don't settle on one thing, one choice, one mood - you skip about, changing direction and keeping everyone guessing!
There are two possible explanations as to the origins of CAPRICIOUS - both are animal-based and to do with leaping about. Both also come to English from Italian musical terms:
1) KHAPROS (Ancient Greek) and CAPER / CAPRA (Latin, masculine and feminine versions) both mean a goat. In Italian, a CAPRIOLE is a type of leap in a dance, coming from the Latin CAPREOLUS, meaning a wild goat. Goats, of course, are renowned for their nimble footwork on vertiginous, rocky mountain slopes.
2) In Italian CAPO means 'head' and RICCIO means 'hedghog'. The idea here is to do with fear: if you have a 'hedgehog-head', your hair is standing on end and spiky. You may well also be shivering or jumping and starting with fear. The Italian word CAPRICCIO referred to a lively piece of music, perhaps meaning that it was full of shivers and starts, and 'spiky' could be another way to describe staccato music.
So which origin should we choose? I prefer the first. No - definitely the second. Actually I like both. But let's not get moody about it...
1) beside; alongside, not part of; 2) protecting
PARA is an interesting and unusual prefix because it is actually two different and unrelated prefixes.
1) The more usual meaning, BESIDE or WORKING ALONGSIDE BUT NOT PART OF, is an Ancient Greek prefix seen in many English words.
PARALLEL (Greek ALLELOS = 'another thing') means, of course, two things running beside each other. In his PARABLES, Jesus told stories which, when compared BESIDE real life situations, could teach his followers lessons for life.
An occupation such as a PARALEGAL or PARAMEDIC means that the worker is trained in some aspects of law or medical treatment, but is not a fully qualified lawyer, doctor or nurse. A PARAMILITARY organisation works in a similar way to a military organisation, but is not part of an official national army. PARAPHERNALIA in Ancient Greece originally meant the things a woman owned that were not part of her dowry (the -PHER- part, meaning 'bringing', referred to the dowry itself, or the money and goods she BROUGHT to the marriage).
The sense NOT PART OF is also sometimes extended to mean DIFFERENT TO, in words such as PARANORMAL (different to normal) and PARADOX (a contradictory statement).
2) The second PARA prefix comes from the Latin verb PARARE, normally meaning 'to prepare', but sometimes having the sense 'to ward off, protect against'.
This is seen less frequently in English, in words such as PARASOL (Latin SOL = sun), PARACHUTE (French CHUTER = to fall), and PARAPET (Latin PECTUS and Italian PETTO = chest: a chest-high wall to protect from falling off a high building).
to emit light, glow
LUMINESCE shares its root with ILLUMINATE, LUMINOUS and LUMINARY:
LUMEN - light
ESCE - to start, become
The full meaning is 'to emit a light which is not from burning something, but from a natural glow', such as phosphorescence or fluorescence. Unusually, the original word here is the longer noun LUMINESCENCE (the act of emitting light), and the shorter verb, LUMINESCE, is a back formation - that is, it has been created later by removing the noun suffix ENCE: when creating words we usually ADD prefixes or suffixes to a root or an original word, rather than remove them.
We see the suffix ESCE more often as part of the longer suffixes ESCENT or ESCENCE, in words such as SENESCENT (becoming older (think SENILE and SENIOR) ), ADOLESCENCE (the process of becoming an adult), CONVALESCENT (someone who is getting stronger (VAL) after an illness).
the use of words which sound nice
Most people will be familiar with the word euPHEMism - the use of a mild or gentle word to refer to something unpleasant or embarrassing - but EUPHONISM is heard less often. It comes from Greek:
EU - good, well, easy
PHON - sound
ISM - a belief, practice, system
It is literally 'the practice of using nice sounds'.
EU is seen as a prefix at the beginning of EULOGY (a speech praising someone, especially someone who has died: Greek 'logos' = words, speech) and EUTHANASIA, (an easy death, a good death: Greek 'thanatos' = death).
The opposite of EU is KAKO / CACO, so we see CACOPHONY (a bad or horrible noise, a din); this is quite rare in English words, however.
PHON as a root word is seen most obviously in sound gadgets such as TELEPHONE (sounds from far off: Greek 'tele' = far off) and MICROPHONE (something which magnifies small sounds: 'micro' = small), but also in language/literacy words such as PHONICS (the study of sounds made by written letters / letter strings: 'ics' = a branch of study), and musical terms such as SYMPHONY (sounds played together: 'sym' = together, with).
tending to use very long words when shorter ones would do
This fabulous word actually demonstrates its own meaning! It uses a shortened version of the word 'semi':
SES = SEMI - half
QUE - and
PES - a foot
PEDALIS - a foot long (from PES, PEDIS - a foot)
AN - a suffix which makes adjectives, to do with a particular system or habit
It literally means 'using words of a foot and a half in length', and was also used by Roman writers to denote something that was ridiculously and unnecessarily long.
PEDALIS in Latin means 'a foot' in the same senses as we would use it, both as a part of the body and as a measurement of length. In fact, the length of measurement was originally based on the length of a man's foot!
PED- is seen in many other English words, from the obvious, such as PEDestrian, PEDal, PEDestal, quadruPED (a four-footed creature, quad = four), to the less discernable: exPEDition, imPEDiment, PEDigree.
PED- is also linked to -POD and -PUS as seen in gastroPOD and octoPUS, but should not be mixed up with the shortened form of PAED- seen in mostly American spellings of PAEDiatrician/PEDiatrician, PEDagogy, etc.
a shield bearing a coat of arms
ESCUTCHEON is a Medieval English word, coming, via Old French, from the Latin word SCUTUM, meaning a soldier's shield.
Its original use was to describe the shield-shaped base of a coat of arms in heraldry, or a smaller shield-shaped image placed in the middle of a larger design, to show where several different coats of arms had been joined, perhaps by marriage. A 'blot on the escutcheon' means a stain on the family's honour, something shameful.
ESCUTCHEON is also used in a more modern sense to mean a decorative metal plate covering a join in functional part of a building, where pipes come through walls, for instance, or a doorplate with a decorative keyhole, where the ESCUTCHEON covers and protects the lock from damage.
ESCUTCHEON was suggested as our Word of the Week by Susan Hill, author of 'The Woman in Black', who tweeted it to us over the weekend - many thanks, Susan!
orbiting a planet in time with the planet's rotation
GEO - earth, rock
SYN - together, with
CHRONO - time
OUS - characterised by, by nature
A GEOSYNCHRONOUS object often appears to be unmoving in the sky to observers on earth, because it moves with the planet, always remaining the same distance away.
with the sun at the centre
Our solar system is HELIOCENTRIC:
HELIOS - Ancient Greek god of the sun
CENTR - centre
IC - to do with
The Ancient Roman version of HELIOS was SOL - where the word SOLAR (-ar - to do with) comes from.
CENTRE is obviously a word in its own right, but it also hides in a variety of surprising words:
ECCENTRICITY - the state (-ity) of being out of (ec-) the centre, i.e. not conforming to normality
CONCENTRATION: the act (-tion) of bringing attention together (con-) in the centre - or focusing on one central point
CENTRIFUGAL - literally, to do with (-al) fleeing (-fug-) the centre - to do with the force that flings something out from a central point when it is spun round.
Tricky to spot because of its three forms, this root comes from the Latin verb PLICO meaning 'to fold' or 'to layer'.
It is also linked to the verb PLECTO meaning 'to plait' - a technique which, of course, entails folding and twisting lengths of hair, wool, or other materials, together.
The easiest places to spot 'ply' are on boxes of tissues - do you want 3-PLY? 4-PLY? - at the wool shop, where you might ask for 4-PLY yarn (wool made of four strands twisted togther), or on a trip to the DIY store to buy PLYwood - created from layering thin sheets of wood together in alternating directions to create a strong wood product.
However, this root also lends itself to the classic prefix/root-word/suffix word structure in many English words, so here are a few other ply/plex/plic words and their literal meanings:
APPLY - to layer on, connect to, join (ad = to, towards). In Latin the corresponding verb, applico, could also be used, with the word for mouth or lips, to mean to kiss! An APPLICATION then means the process (tion) of making (-ate) a connection - so when you fill in an application form for a job, you are making a first connection with a prospective employer.
COMPLEX - useful as an adjective or a noun, this means 'many-layered', i.e. hard to understand because it has many twists, folds, issues, etc. understand, or a place with many buildings and areas. COMPLEXITY adds the suffix -ity (quality, state or extent) which changes the meaning to the quality of being difficult, or the level of difficulty it causes. COMPLICATION is the act, process or result (tion) of adding many layers (plic) together (com), and demonstrates perfectly how apparently unrelated roots can hide connections between words.
MULTIPLICATION - this is literally, the act (tion) of layering (plic) the same number on itself many (multi) times, or the act of MULTIPLYing. A MULTIPLEX cinema has many screens. Again, words linked here use all three versions of the root.
So finally, I hope that I have SUPPLIED enough examples, enabling you to REPLY EXPLICITLY to any COMPLICATED questions without DUPLICATING your words or drawing the wrong IMPLICATIONS!
A severe boil or abscess, OR a bright red gemstone such as a garnet
This is one of those wonderful words which means two completely opposite things - yet you can see what links both!
carbo - carbon, coal
uncle - little (a suffix forming diminutive nouns)
So, a 'little coal' could easily describe the ruby gleam of a precious stone, or the angry inflammation of an infected boil!
The suffix -UNCLE is from the Latin suffix -UNCULUS, which is also sometimes shortened to -ULUS in Latin, and -ULE in English. So other words where we see this diminishing suffix are:
MOLECULE - literally means a 'little mass, little structure', from Latin 'moles', a shapeless mass, or a construction
GRANULATED - literally, 'made into little grains', from Latin 'granus', a grain, and the suffix '-ate' meaning 'to make into, become'
AVUNCULAR - meaning kindly, helpful or protective towards a younger or less experienced person, it comes from the Latin 'avunculus' meaning 'an uncle on your mother's side', and the suffix '-ar' meaning 'to do with, like'; 'avunculus' itself means 'little grandfather', coming from Latin 'avus', a grandfather
For further word links and usage of the word 'carbuncle', why not visit www.soundtraining.co.uk/blog/?
a firm decision
Have you thought about your New Year's RESOLUTIONS yet?
The root word of RESOLUTION is 'solve', from the Latin verb 'solvere' meaning 'to loosen' - think of loosening a knot or a tangle.
RE - intensifies the meaning of the root word
SOLU/SOLV - to loosen, untangle, make clear
TION - act, process, result
So RESOLUTION is the act or result of making something really clear, finding an answer once and for all.
Other SOLV words are DISSOLVE (to break a substance down, or to disband a group: DIS = away, down), ABSOLVE (to find someone not guilty of wrongdoing, i.e. to loosen or free someone from the bonds of guilt or responsibility: AB = away, from), and SOLVENT (a liquid in which a substance can be dissolved, or broken down: ENT = -ing)
the quality of kindness beyond what is necessary, wanting to give or to help without reward
GENEROSITY was originally to do with noble birth. The Latin root GENUS in Roman and medieval times had the sense of 'noble birth', so GENEROSITY meant 'the quality of behaving as if of noble birth'! Hmmm...
genus - birth, stock, especially high or noble birth
ous - having the characteristics of, being by nature
ity - state, quality, condition
We now use GENUS in a scientific sense it to mean 'class, type' when identifying, classifying and naming plants or animals. It is also seen with this sense in the words GENERAL and GENERIC - both referring to 'all classes, all types'. GEN is also used as a scientific suffix denoting production:
carcinoGEN - something capable of producing cancerous cells
glycoGEN - a substance which stores carbohydrates, producing glucose
pathoGEN - something which produces disease (patho - disease, suffering)
All very scientific! However, let's return to the modern meaning of GENEROSITY, and try to keep that Christmas spirit!
A Merry Christmas to my fellow word-nerds!
unwilling to spend money or use up resources; stingy
From the Latin verb PARCO - to spare, be sparing, economise
parsi - sparing
mony - action, state, condition
ous - having the characteristics of, being by nature
So PARSIMONIOUS means having the nature to be very sparing with money - being a right Scrooge!
We see the suffix -MONY in words such as CEREMONY, HARMONY, MATRIMONY, etc.
"Bah! Humbug!" to you all.
laughably old-fashioned, out of touch
In English we take much of our imagery from popular Bible stories, and the word ANTEDILUVIAN relies on this.
ante - before
diluvium - a flood (Latin dis - away, Greek luo - to wash)
It literally means 'from before the Flood', referring to the story of Noah's Ark. William Congreve wrote, “A branch of one of your antediluvian families, fellows that the flood could not wash away"; more recently Virginia Woolf referred to "Women's rights, that antediluvian topic" in 'Mrs Dalloway', and in Stieg Larsson's 'The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest' the heroine feels that other characters display "an attitude that was so antediluvian it was almost comical. You shouldn't worry your pretty head over complex matters, little girl."
INELUCTABLE is linked by its Latin root word to RELUCTANT:
in - not
e - out, out of
luctor - to wrestle, struggle
able - can be done
Something that is INELUCTABLE is not able to escaped, however hard you might try. RELUCTANT means 'fighting back' (prefix RE = back, again; suffix -ANT / -ENT = equivalent to -ING)
American author and teacher Bel Kaufman wrote of teaching that 'Once you accept as one of the ineluctable laws of nature that kids will continue to say ... "between you and I" and "mischievious" ... you can go on from there" ('Up the Down Staircase', 1965).
a woman who campaigns for the right of women to vote
There are two theories for the origin of the word SUFFRAGETTE. Both agree on the prefix, root word and suffix:
SUB - under; it can have the sense of 'in the power of someone' or 'supporting something'. In front of some consonants the 'b' of SUB changes to a double letter to make it easier to say, e.g. support, suffer, suggest should really be subport, subfer, subgest.
FRAG - from the Latin verb 'frango' - to break. This is where 'fracture', 'fraction', 'fragment', etc. come from.
ETTE - a female version of something, a smaller version of something, or an imitation of something, e.g. usherette, kitchenette, leatherette.
One theory is that the base of 'suffrage' was from 'fragor' which in Latin means a loud noise or crash, orginally the noise of something breaking. By medieval times 'suffrage' had come to be used within the church to mean prayers or pleas made on someone else's behalf. So one theory is that 'suffrage' came from the idea of people cheering or clapping in support of someone's plea.
The second theory is that at elections in Ancient Rome, people voted by putting their token into their favourite candidate's pot. The tokens were possibly made from broken pieces of pottery or tiles. So the results of the vote were 'subject to the broken pieces', or perhaps the careers of politicians were 'supported by broken tiles'!
a person who works in soil management and crop production
AGRONOMISTS are linked (etymologically!) to both 'AGRIculture' and 'ecoNOMY':
agri / agro - to do with land or fields (Latin)
nomy /nomos - to do with rules, principles, the way something is run (Greek)
ist - a person with a job, hobby or interest
We see the NOMY part of the word in words such as
ASTRONOMY - understanding the laws of the stars (Latin astra = stars)
ECONOMY - the principles of managing the home (eco comes from the Greek oikos - the home)
AUTONOMY - governing yourself, making your own decisions in a matter (Greek autos = self)
the art of making and displaying fireworks
PYROTECHNICS comes from Ancient Greek:
pyr - fire
technos - craft, skill
ics - an art, science, study or action
'PYR' crops up in English words such as:
PYROMANIAC - someone with an obsession about setting fire to things
PYRE - a pile of wood and burnable materials on which to cremate a body
PYRACANTHAS - a thorny shrub with red or yellow berries, also called the firethorn (from Ancient Greek acantha - thorn)
TECHNOS is also found in:
TECHNOLOGY - the study (ology) of crafting and inventing things
POLYTECHNIC - a college that teaches many (poly) skills
TECHNIQUE - the method of performing a particular creative task or other skill
The suffix -ICS is used at the end of:
POLITICS - study or action to do with the state (from Ancient Greek polis - a city-state)
MATHEMATICS - literally, the study of learning (from Ancient Greek manthanein - to learn)
ACOUSTICS - the science of sound and listening (from Ancient Greek akouein - to hear)
the stretching and ripping of objects by forces in a Black Hole
SPAGHETTIFICATION literally translates as 'the process of making something into spaghetti':
fy / fic - to make into (from Latin facio - I make, do)
tion - the act, process or result of doing something
Some astrophysicists believe that the forces of gravity within a Black Hole would stretch and compress any object that entered it, until it was long and thin like spaghetti.
Adding -FY to any word makes it into a verb meaning 'to make into something': in fact, adding -FY verbifies words...
Other -FY examples are:
SATISFY - literally 'to make something enough' (satis = Latin for 'enough')
DEIFY - to turn something into a god, treat something or someone like a god (deus = Latin for 'a god')
MAGNIFY - to make something bigger (magnus = Latin for 'big')
-FICATION means the process or the result of making something. Other -FICATION examples are:
DESERTIFICATION - the process or result of turning an area into a desert
AMPLIFICATION - the process or result of making a sound louder (amplus = Latin for large)
GLORIFICATION - the process or result of making something seem glorious
The root word of ANONYMOUS is the Ancient Greek word ONOMA, meaning a name, title or term: it carries both a prefix and a suffix:
a- / an- = not, without
-ous = full of, having the characteristic of
Vowels often become changed when a word is adopted by other languages, so the second 'o' has, over time, become a 'y'. In English this gives us a new root, -nym-, which we often see in other English words:
synonym - a word with the same meaning as another (syn = together, with, same)
pseudonym - a false name (pseudo = a lie, falsehood, cheating)
patronymic - a name coming from the name of your father or an ancestor, e.g. Jackson (patros = father, ic = to do with).
Patronymics are a common feature in Russian literature, e.g. Alexei Alexandrovich Karenin, the husband of Anna Karenina: Alexandrovich translates as 'son of Alexander'.
the fear of everything
Most phobia words have their origins in Ancient Greek, and PANTOPHOBIA is no exception!
panto - all, everything
phobia - fear of
The feeling of PANTOPHOBIA is usually described as having a constant fear that 'something bad is going to happen'. It may come from feelings of anxiety over several individual issues, that eventually become one great big sense of dread.
PANTO comes from the Greek word PAN meaning 'all, every'. It is also seen in words such as:
PANTOmime - 'imitator of everything': the word came from an ancient form of dramatic danc performance, telling a story through exaggerated actions put to music
PANorama - a view of everything all around
Thank you to Jacob at Melior Community Academy, Scunthorpe for suggesting this week's WORD OF THE WEEK!
a new word made of parts of two (or more) apparently unlinked words
Lewis Carroll first used the term PORTMANTEAU to describe made-up words. It is French in origin:
port - from PORTER = to carry
manteau - a cloak, coat (similar to 'mantle' in English)
In Carroll's time a PORTMANTEAU was a type of upright travelling trunk with two hinged compartments which folded together like a book.
In Through the Looking-Glass, Humpty-Dumpty explains words such as 'mimsy' - a mixture of 'miserable' and 'flimsy' (from the poem Jabberwocky) to Alice as like a portmanteau, "two meanings packed into one word".
More modern examples are 'Grexit' - the potential EXIT of GREECE from the EU, and 'Brangelina' for the celebrity couple BRAD Pitt and ANGELINA Jolie!
having a deep understanding of or insight into something
PERSPICACIOUS splits nicely into the prefix / root word / suffix equation!
per - through
spic - from specio - to look at, see
acious - tending to, having the capacity to (this is similar to 'ous', but not exactly the same)
Literally, it means 'having the capacity to see through something clearly'.
Do not confuse PERSPICACIOUS with PERSPICUOUS, however: the latter approaches the concept of clarity from the other side, meaning 'able to be understood easily'. Make sure you are PERSPICACIOUS enough to see the PERSPICUOUS difference!
the occurrence or discovery of something useful or lucky, simply by chance
SERENDIPITY is a neologism (a new (neo) word (logos)'), coined in 1754 by the writer and politician Horace Walpole. It is taken from a Persian fairytale, 'The Three Princes of Serendip', in which the princes travel the world discovering interesting things by accident.
Serendip was the early name for Ceylon, now Sri Lanka. Walpole simply added the suffix 'ity', meaning 'state, quality, condition of' to the name.
a beneficial relationship or interaction between different people, groups or organisms
Ancient Greek in origin, there are three elements to SYMBIOSIS:
sym / syn - together, with
bio - life, living
osis - process, state, medical condition
The basic definition of SYMBIOSIS is the state or process of living together. It is usually used in the sense of existing side by side in a way that provides benefits for both or all parties; however, parasites also live in symbiosis with their host, but the host often suffers because of it.
to sleep through the hot summer months
AESTIVATION is the opposite of HIBERNATION - it is usually used in zoology to describe how some animals sleep through long periods of hot, dry weather.
It comes from the Latin:
aestas - summer
aestivus - to do with summer, summery
ate - to make into, become, be
tion - the act, process or result of
So a literal translation is 'the act or result of being summery, behaving as if it is summer', or it's scientific definition is 'to spend the summer in a state of dormancy'.
HIBERNATION comes from the Latin word for winter - HIBERNUS.
in a scattered fashion, from place to place or time to time, irregularly
SPORADIC has its origins in farming. It comes from the Ancient Greek verb SPEIRO, meaning 'to sow, to scatter seeds':
SPORA: scattered, thrown around
IC: to do with, in that way
So SPORADIC means in a scattered fashion, from place to place or time to time, irregularly.
Other words linked to SPORADIC are SPORES - the seeds of certain fungi and plants, and DIASPORA - the members of a community, often religious, who have been scattered across the world, especially the Jewish Diaspora.
A person who compiles dictionaries
LEXICOGRAPHER comes from Ancient Greek:
LEXIS: a speech, word (linked to LOGOS, as in catalogue, dialogue)
GRAPH: to do with writing
ER: a person or thing performing an action
So a LEXICOGRAPHER is a person who writes a book of words - or a person who puts together a dictionary.
LEXICON is actually short for the Greek phrase LEXICON BIBLION - a word book.
The pleasure of (anticipated) success
We all know NIKE as a brand of sports equipment and clothing, but the name actually comes from Ancient Greece. NIKE was the Greek goddess of Victory, and HEDONism is pleasure-seeking, or the belief that pleasure should be the highest aim in life.
Many thanks to Suzie Dent, from Channel 4's Countdown, who tweeted @SoundTrainingUK with this week's Word of the Week suggestion!
Next week: LEXICOGRAPHER
the study of proper names
The meanings of names of people and places fascinates people - witness the huge market for bookmarks, pens, mugs, cards, ANYTHING printed with a person's name and its origins! The name for the research behind this is ONOMATOLOGY, from Ancient Greek:
ONOMA - a name (compare it to 'un nom' in French, and the word 'onomatopoeia')
OLOGY - the study of
It is sometimes also called ONOMASTICS; the specific study of people's names is ANTHROPONOMASTICS (anthropos = a man, a person) and the study of place names in particular is TOPONOMASTICS (topos = a place).
A root word meaning 'TO TURN'
VERTO is the Latin verb meaning 'to turn', and we see VERT and VERS crop up in many English words:
CONVERT - to change completely to something else (CON - together, altogether)
CONTROVERSIAL - causing argument or discussion - literally 'to do with turning against' (CONTRO - against; AL - to do with)
VERTEBRA - the column of ring-like bones in the spine enables the back to twist and turn
INTROVERT / EXTROVERT - an INTROVERT is someone who turns in on themselves, a shy person, whereas an EXTROVERT does the opposite, and is very outgoing (INTRA - to the inside; EXTRA - to the outside)
The ability to withstand hardship - as this week's London Marathon runners will show us!
en-: in, into
-ance: quality, state, instance
ENDURANCE is the quality of having hardness or toughness within.
Good luck to all the runners in the London Marathon on Sunday!
To read our ENDURANCE blog, and for further word play, information and articles, click on our Sound Training blog link at the top of the page.
The act of burying someone again
This week sees the REINTERMENT of King Richard III, the last English king to die in battle. His remains were found buried under a Leicester carpark in 2012, in the remains of a lost medieval church. He will finally be laid to rest in a royal tomb on Thursday in Leicester Cathedral.
The word REINTERMENT is Latin in origin:
re - again
in - in, into
ter - from 'terra': the earth, ground
ment - result of an action
A person who loves books
Celebrate your book addiction: let everyone know you're a BIBLIOPHILE!
BIBLION = a book (in Ancient Greek)
PHILOS = loving, fond, friendly towards
Which is your favourite book - or books?
In the Christian world THE BIBLE is THE BOOK - both in importance and in the meaning of its name. The Old Testament books were originally written in Hebrew, and were translated into Ancient Greek by scholars at the famous Library in Alexandria, Egypt in the third century BC - Egypt was then ruled by the Greek heirs of Alexander the Great. The New Testament books were written in the first century AD in Ancient Greek, as this was the language of education in the Mediterranean area (ruled by the Romans), at that time.
Other BIBLION words:
BIBLIOGRAPHY: (graph = writing) a list of books to read about a particular subject
BIBLIOLATRY: (latry = worship of) an excessive love of books; or, the act of sticking too closely to a literal interpretation of the Bible
BIBLIOTICS: the study of documents, handwriting and writing tools to decide if the documents are authentic - carried out by a BIBLIOTIST (ist = a person doing a job or hobby)
BIBLIOPOLE: (-pole, -poly = to do with trade, e.g. monopoly) a bookdealer, especially one who buys and sells rare books
A person who studies the origins and development of the universe - the Theory of Everything!
COSMOLOGIST comes from the Ancient Greek 'kosmos' meaning 'order' or 'world, universe'.
kosmos - order, universe
-ology - the study or science of
-ist - a member of a profession
A COSMOLOGIST is a person whose profession is the study of the order and workings of the universe. Arguably the most famous British cosmologist alive today is Dr Stephen Hawking, whose life has recently been examined in the film 'The Theory of Everything', winning a Best Actor Oscar for actor Eddie Redmayne at the Oscars Awards ceremony on Sunday.
There's no time like the present! PROCRASTINATION comes from the Latin word CRAS meaning 'tomorrow'.
PROCRASTINATION is, to me, a perfectly formed word: it is made up of a root word, with a prefix and two suffixes added.
pro - forwards, in front
cras / crastinus - Latin for tomorrow / belonging to tomorrow
ate - to make into, become
tion - (the result of) an act or process
So PROCRASTINATION is the act of (or the result of the act of) making something into the business of tomorrow - or putting it off till tomorrow.
The belief in fair and kind treatment of all humans
HUMANITARIANISM can be broken down into four sections:
HUMAN + ITY (state) + ARIAN (having a concern/belief in something) + ISM (a belief/system).
Put back together, it is the belief in fair and kind treatment of all humans, regardless of race, gender, age, sexual orientation, religious or political beliefs etc.
On the third Monday in January (this year Monday 19th January) America celebrates Martin Luther King Day, in honour of the civil rights activist who campaigned against racial segregation and was assassinated for his beliefs in 1968.
The birth of a baby, especially of Jesus Christ
NATIVITY comes from the Latin NATUS meaning BORN, EXISTING, with the suffix -ITY, meaning THE STATE OF, AN INSTANCE OF.
At this time of year children across the country are performing their Nativity plays at school - traditional or with added lobsters and aliens!
But there are many other words used all the time which come from the same root:
NATURE - your birth, inborn personality; or 'all things which have been born', all living things
NATIVE - by birth, e.g. your native country, native language
NATION - originally, a group of people with common ancestors - joined, therefore, by birth
Also, some names come from this root; NATALIE / NATALYA, from the Latin phrase DIES NATALIS, meaning 'birthday', especially Jesus' birthday, and therefore 'Christmas', were originally popular in France and Russia; NATASHA is the pet-name version of NATALIE.
The root of many words, from the Greek verb ARCHO, meaning TO RULE, or TO BEGIN
English words using the sense of TO RULE include:
matriARCHal – (of a group or society) being led by a senior woman (mater, matri- = mother, -al = like, of that sort)
anARCHist - a person who believes there should be no ruler (an = without, ist = a person)
ARCHbishop, ARCHangel, ARCH-enemy - a head bishop, a senior angel, a most important enemy
English words using the sense of TO BEGIN include:
ARCHaeology - the study of (ology) things from the beginning (i.e., from long ago)
ARCHaic – ancient, old-fashioned (-ic = to do with, e.g. archaic language)
ARCHetype – the first, original version of something
The scientific and mathematical genius ARCHimedes (he of 'Eureka!' fame and the Archimedes Screw) has a curiously apt name: 'medes' comes from the Greek for 'to plan, think, invent'. So he truly was 'The Master Inventor'!
a person who investigates crimes and tries to uncover the truth...
On 1st December 1887 Sherlock Holmes first appeared in print, in A Study in Scarlet. My investigations into Holmes' profession have uncovered the following facts:
DE – the opposite, away from, down, off;
TECT –a roof, a cover;
IVE –by nature, tending to do or to be something – it’s usually an ending for an adjective (such as ‘active’) but sometimes these words become used as nouns.
So a DETECTIVE is someone who tends to uncover things.
TECT comes from the Latin verb TEGO and the Greek verb STEGO, which both mean TO COVER, and often are used in the senses of clothing, roofs, or building.
Other linked English words are ARCHITECTURE, PROTECT and STEGOSAURUS (a dinosaur with plates which looked like roof-tiles along its spine!).
Elementary, my dear Watson...
The War Memorial in Whitehall, London, to commemorate those soldiers who died in the First World War
CENOTAPH comes from two Greek words: KENOS, meaning 'empty' and TAPHOS, meaning 'tomb'.
Cenotaphs have been used in countries across the world and for thousands of years as memorials to an individual or group who are actually buried elsewhere.
The Cenotaph in London was originally erected as a memorial for the fallen British soldiers of the First World War. However, it has now become the focus of commemoration for British soldiers who have died in all conflicts since then.
a collection of the best poetry, writings or pieces of music
ANTHOLOGY comes from two Ancient Greek words:
anthos - a flower, blossom
logia - a collection
It literally means 'a collection of flowers' - but of course it's used metaphorically. We speak in English of the 'flower' of youth, meaning 'the best', and of ideas 'blossoming', or a plan coming to 'fruition'. Our language is so full of metaphors referring to nature and plants that we hardly notice them any more - look out for them!
A word, phrase or number which reads the same both forwards and backwards
It is made up from two Ancient Greek words:
PALIN = again, back
DROMOS = a course, race, racetrack.
Strangely, though, it wasn't ever a Greek word itself - it was actually made up by the English Jacobean poet and playwright Ben Jonson (1572-1637).
Some examples of palindromes:
Names - Hannah.
Dates - 20th February 2002 = 20 02 2002.
Phrases - 'A Toyota's a Toyota'.
Do you know any interesting or funny palindromes?
VELOCITY breaks down into a Latin root and a suffix:
VELOX - swift, fast
ITY - state, quality, condition of
So VELOCITY is 'the state or quality of being fast'.
Linking to the Tour de France: the French for a bicycle is un vélo - a shortened form of vélocipede, which was an early type of bike with no pedals. Hence indoor cycle races take place in a VELOrome.
More velo words - a VELOCImeter is an instrument which measures (-meter) speed/velocity, and a VELOCIraptor is a very speedy dinosaur!
Enjoy the cycling!
a single head of state
MONARCH comes from two Ancient Greek words:
MONOS - alone
ARKHO - I rule
So a MONARCH is someone who rules and holds power alone, such as a king or queen.
Other MONOS and ARKH/ARCH words are:
monologue = a long speech for one person in a play (log = word, speech)
monogamy = marriage to only one person (gamy = marriage)
monotone = a sound or voice which stays at one pitch, with no intonation
archangel = a senior angel
archbishop = the chief bishop for an area
patriarchy = a society led by a male elder (pater, patros = father)
anarchy = the state of being without (a/an) a ruler
If I had known what you have just taught me today I would feel so much more confident with the English Language.
I absolutely love teaching Sound Training and wish I could teach it all day everyday. We plan to put through all Year 7 students and there is such a buzz in school about the programme. Our students regularly comment that they don’t want the Sound Training sessions to end.
We decided to assess all our EAL students using the stepping stones baseline assessment including the pupils in year 6 who we felt were not in need of extra support. The results surprised us; it highlighted serious gaps in their knowledge which we were unaware of. We subsequently placed these pupils onto the appropriate steps within the Stepping Stone Module, preparing them for their secondary school career.
Even after a number of years of language teaching, I realise that there is still so much to learn about how we can better support and improve outcomes for our EAL students! We are all keen to start work using the Sound Training method and look forward to some great results!
Sound Training has been useful for us in developing our GCSE students' vocabulary. The word lists on the website have been particularly helpful in tailoring vocabulary for our students who have then been able to utilise their newly acquired Sound Training skills to access and learn new words.
The module has been very effective for students who are new to the country and to those who have not yet gained sufficient levels of language. Students have quickly been able to fluently decode the written word allowing them to then analyse them for meaning. My students enjoy the chanting of the sounds and the speed we build up over time; is essential to maintain a fast pace of delivery. I record the students sometimes to let them hear their own voices and they find this helps. The progress the students make in such a short period of time sets Sound Training's Stepping Stone apart from other EAL provisions.
Sam completed Sound Training in the Summer Term 2013 and made two years gain in reading. However, it was the total transformation in his confidence and skill that surprised everyone. He commented, “I can spell now” and his parents said it was like a light bulb being switched on. He has smashed his English target, going from a Level 4 to a Level 6 and is now in the Top set for Year 9. He writes confidently and creatively and is simply a joy to teach. It has been a pleasure to see just how much Sound Training has, literally, changed his life.
Of all the strategies we use I feel strongly that Sound Training is the most effective and accessible. When a group of Yr 11 ‘characters’ come out of their first session and say ‘Cheers, Miss, I’ll have some more of that’, you know you’ve found a diamond! Equally, this week we had 4 very emotional Yr 11 girls celebrating their improvements. Sound Training is an integral part of our whole school literacy strategy and I will always invest in it, however tight our budget may be.
Once a week a dyslexic Yr 9 student disappeared from my lesson to attend STfR and within three weeks I saw a difference: she had confidence, she put her hand up in class , she constantly smiled but most importantly her reading AND spelling improved. Sound Training does work magic!
I noticed a huge improvement in Niamh’s confidence and understanding. She used to rely heavily on us to complete homework; we practically had to do it for her. Since Sound Training she is able to complete and understand her homework with minimal support from us.
“The key thing for us is that our staff love delivering it, which means that our students love learning it. The obvious difference you ...