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Attention merely to the root, in this word, so far from enlightening us, may lead us astray. Bis= twice, and annus=a year: hence it may be argued biennial applies to an occurrence which happens twice in one year. This is not the fact; it applies to an occurrence happening once in two years.
Aristos=noblest, or best; aristocracy. This word would probably belong to feudal times, when titles were conferred as a reward for military services, the ultimate root of the word being Ares, the Greek name for the god of war.
Baculus=a staff; bachelor. A tracer of the parentage of words is not bound in every instance, neither is it possible to state the exact idea which supplies the connection between the primary and secondary meaning ; it is enough if a reasonable account thereof be given. In the case of the word in question, the following theory is sufficient for every practical purpose :—“From the riddle of the celebrated Sphinx, (see "Lempriere’s Classical Dictionary,”') we are entitled to conclude, that it was not customary, in
very ancient times, for young men to carry sticks. We know, moreover, that the Latins and Greeks were fond of calling things by names, implying properties in the things called, the reverse of what they really possessed. The figure they used for this purpose was called Antiphrasis, by which a man who carries not a stick, may be called a bachelor, as though he did carry such an article."*
Cancelli=cross-bars of lattice work in iron, &c., used outside windows to keep out robbers. Cancel, chancellor. Cancel means to cross out or erase writing by drawing the pen over it (literally), so as to make marks similar in direction to the cancelli ; and a chancellor is an individual
a invested with such authority as enables him to erase, i.e. to annul, the decisions of inferiors.
* This word, however, is more probably derived from the Latin word Baccalaureus, the name applied originally in colleges to a person who graduated in Arts; and from the similarity of wooing the Muses and à mistress, an unmarried man is called a bachelor. Baccalaureus itself is compounded of bacca=a berry, and laurus=a laurel; the successful candidate for a Bachelor's degree having been formerly crowned with a garland of laurel, and other trees, with their berries.
Candidus = white; Candidatus = clothed in whitecandidate. Persons canvassing for political offices at Rome used to wear white robes, symbolical of their purity and honesty; hence we call such persons, and all others seeking positions of any kind, candidates, though the aforesaid custom is not literally observed.
Centrum = the middle point; eccentric, eccentricity. This latter means literally deviation from a central point; and it is applied to express the habit of a man in mind or act who is not governed therein by the law or force of opinion which regulates the acts of the generality of men.
Cera=wax; sincere, insincere, insincerity, &c. &c. We call a man sincere who means what he
says what he thinks. This is evidently a compound of sine= without, i.e. not having, and the word in question. The Romans applied the word sincerus, made up of these parts, to pure honey when separated from the wax—that is, to honey without mixture or alloy.
Classici=those Roman citizens who belonged to the highest class ; classic, classics, &c. &c. The latter word, we apply to authors of the highest eminence in any country, and who have written on any subject of human knowledge; and hence pre-eminently to those who wrote in the Latin and Greek languages.
Cleros =a lot, a portion; clergy, clerk, clerical. These words are derived from the idea that the ministers of religion were anciently regarded as “The Lord's inheritance;" or because an inheritance was specially set apart for their support.
Cliens=one of the poorer Roman citizens, who put himself under the protection of his patron, who extended to him protection in lieu of personal service. Client=one who employs a patron in the shape of a lawyer, to protect his interests, in lieu of money, instead of personal service.
Dorsum=the back, indorse ; or endorse. To endorse a bill is to write our signature on its back, whereby we render ourselves liable for the amount thereof; hence to endorse a man's opinions, is used metaphorically to express the act whereby a man takes up all the opinions of a teacher, and professes his willingness to abide by whatever consequences may be demonstrated as resulting therefrom.
Fanum=a temple ; profane. In heathen mythology, profani was applied as a name to uninitiated persons, who were not allowed to be present at the sacred services, especially those of Ceres and Bacchus, but were obliged to remain outside the precincts of the temple (pro fano); hence profane=wicked, unworthy of taking a part in the services of religion : and hence the verb to profane derives its signification.
Gordium=a city of Asia Minor, wherein was a chariot whose beam was connected therewith by a knot of which it was prophesied that whosoever would untie it should acquire the dominion of Asia Minor. Alexander the Great, when he visited it, cut it with his sword, alleging that it mattered not in what manner it was untied; hence the expression, “To cut the Gordian knot," =to solve a difficulty.
Grus= a crane; congruity, congruous, incongruity; the latter word, from in=not, con=together with, i. e. according to, and the word in question, means a disagreement, or disproportion of parts (see "Dictionary "); that is, literally, a departure from the perfect imitation of the triangle by cranes in their flight in flocks. (See "Natural History of the Crane.'')
Kome=a village; comic, comedy, comedian.
Comedy, literally, would signify that original species of acting for which subjects were supplied from the lives of rustics, or clowns of the country or village, whose uncouth manners contrasted strongly with those of citizens, and redounded much, when represented on the stage, to the amusement of the latter.
Kuon=a dog; Cynic, i. e., having the qualities of a surly, barking dog. The Cynic philosophers prided themselves on finding fault with men and manners, with the world generally; and hence were regarded as misanthropes.
Laconia=that district in Peloponnesus of which Sparta or Lacedæmon was the capital; Laconic. The Lacedæo monians were remarkable for expressions, the characteristic of which was that they conveyed much in few words. Of such expressions was the reply of Leonidas to the King of Persia, who demanded by a herald the surrender, on the
part of Leonidas, of his arms. “Let him come," said the brave Spartan, “and take them."
Laurus=a laurel; poet laureate. A degree in the universities and a wreath of laurel were anciently given to him who excelled in the composition of verses.
Lethe=one of the mythical rivers in the infernal regions ; to drink a draught whereof, in order to the oblivion of their past lives, was the first act of spirits released from their bodies—lethargic, lethargy.
Lirorto make balks in ploughing; delirium, delirious. The latter name applies to one who is devoid of sense, and so cannot manage his own affairs in any way.
Luna=the moon ; lunacy, lunatic, sublunary, lunar. A man is called a lunatic when out of his mind—the moon, with her phases, having been supposed to exercise a great influence on such.
Manus=a hand; manual, manufacture, manumit, manumission. The latter word signifies the enfranchising of a slave, from the word in question, and mitto=to send, let go-the Romans having performed such office by a prescribed form, a part of which was to touch the slave with a wand held, of course, by the hand.
Momentum=a push ; motion, moment, momentary, &c. In mechanics, this word signifies impetus, or the quantity of motion in a moving body. This is always in proportion to the quantity of matter therein; hence momentous, or to be of moment=to possess some matter or weight, i.e., to be important. The word moment, a small portion of time, signifies, literally, that small time which suffices by a push to put a body in motion.
Mons=a mountain ; mount, dismount, mountebank. The latter signifies an impostor; literally, a person who harangues the vulgar from an elevated position with intent to deceive them. Munus=a gift; munificent, common, commonalty, &c.
c The clients in Rome were expected to attend the levees of their patrons, with gifts or presents in their hands, at a stated hour; hence commonalty, from con=together, or at the same time, and the word in question would apply to such as visited with gifts at an appointed hour all together,
in contradistinction to the grandees, who might visit separately, and at different hours.
Muo=to close; mystery, mysterious. Those who were initiated in any rites were forbidden, under severe penalties, to divulge them to the uninitiated.
Navis=a ship; nave, navigate, navigable, &c. &c. The nave of a church in olden times resembled in form the hull of a ship.
Ne=not; necessary, necessity, &c. &c. The word in question, and cedo=to yield, make up the word necessity, for the better understanding of which it may be personified, and regarded as the opposing power which never yields, and therefore compels men to obey its dictates.
Nihil=nothing ; nullus From these we have the words annihilate, annul, nullify, all of which literally signify to reduce to nothing. Their application, however, is different; the first is strictly a philosophical word, and applies to the act of the philosophers in changing a particle of matter, by operating on it, into another form; the second, to the act of the legislator, or any other competent authority,in changing existing laws by rescinding them; and the third, to the counteracting by deeds, without literally annulling any law or regulation that may be in existence.
=a name; nominal, renown, ignominy, &c. &c. Renown, from re=again, and the word in question, is
, that fame a man acquires (always in a good sense) which causes his name to be repeated again and again in men's mouths. Ignominy, from ig, a modification of in=not, and nomen, implies the want of name, which implies disgracenames or surnames (in the present instance we must consider honourable ones only) having been usually given to individuals from some glorious achievement.
Oculus=an eye; inoculate, ocular, &c. Inoculate, from in=upon, and the word in question, signifies literally to insert the bud of a tree or plant in another tree or plant, for the purpose of growth on the new stock; the place where the bud shoots out in plants the potato, for instance-being frequently called the eye: hence, from the similarity of what takes place in both cases, to inoculate signifies, secondarily, to communicate a disease to a person by inserting infections matter in his