Most vocabulary words are derived from Latin or Greek etymologies. Here you will find access to phobias (fears, terrors, dreads), manias, and many other words listed in thematic units of English vocabulary words.
Why learn about word origins or etymologies?
The etymology of a word traces its existence and development throughout history and usually through multiple languages. Simply put, etymology can be seen as the study of word origins. You can study word origins to gain a better understanding of language in general. When you know the meaning of a Latin or Greek root, prefix, or suffix, you can better understand, and more easily remember, all of the vocabulary words built on this Latin or Greek element that exist in English words. Knowing etymologies will also help you decipher the meanings of newly encountered words.
Learn one root and you have the key that will unlock the meanings of up to ten, twenty, or even hundreds of English words in which that Latin and/or Greek element (prefix, root, and suffix) appears; for example, learn ego (from Latin, meaning I) and you will immediately have a grasp of the meanings of egocentric, egomaniac, egoist, egotist, and alter ego, all of which will expand your vocabulary.
Again, learn anthropos (from Greek, meaning mankind) and you will quickly understand anthropology,misanthropy, anthropoid, anthropocentric, anthropomorphic, anthropophobia, and philanthropy. Meet any word with -anthropo- in it and you will have at least some idea of its meaning when presented in a vocabulary list.
- In the etymological approach to building vocabulary words:
- You will learn about Latin and Greek prefixes, roots, and suffixes.
- You will be able to figure out unfamiliar English words by recognizing their etymological structure, the building blocks from which they are constructed.
- You will be able to construct many English words correctly by learning to put these building blocks together in the proper way.
- You will develop a keen interest in English words.
- You will obtain a greater insight to language as you explore Latin and Greek words and appreciate and experience the wonder of these words.
- You will acquire many new words and remember them much longer than you can by just learning unrelated word lists.
- If you are preparing for an examination in which questions about English vocabulary words are a significant part of your score, you will find that learning the etymologies of words is a much better way to learn most of the English words you will encounter.
Learn how to deal with etymologies of English words and you will feel comfortable with such words—you will use new words with self-assurance, you will be able to figure out the meanings of the English vocabulary words you hear or read, even if you have never heard or seen these words before.
That is why the best approach to learning new vocabulary words is through their etymologies. You can discover this for yourself, as soon as you start to work with the lists of Latin and Greek Cross References available for your use on this website.
If you really want to have a better understanding of some well-known words that you think you know and some important, but not so commonly known words, take the time to read and experience the wonder of each of the words shown in the lists below. We live in an age of constant oral and written expressions. In a time when our knowledge is increasing with breathless speed, particularly in specialized areas, it is important that we understand each other by having a better comprehension of some “old” words, “new” words, most of which are “borrowed,” but always with every possible effort to present the “true” origins and current usages of those words. This is what Words for Our Modern Age is all about.
Greek hero who was invincible–except for part of his heel.
Achilles is an ancient Greek hero, most noted for two things: his participation in the Trojan War, and his tender heel. Achilles’ mother, Thetis, was predicted to bear a child that would be stronger than his father. When Zeus and Poseidon discovered this fact, they both stopped actively pursuing Thetis. Instead, Thetis married Peleus, and bore him a son, Achilles. When he was a young child, his mother Thetis dipped him in the river Styx, the river that separated the mortal world from the underworld. Dipping a mortal into the river was known to create immortality in the person being dipped. She wanted to do this because, although Achilles inherited the “god,” and therefore immortal, half from his mother, his father was mortal, so Achilles too would be mortal. However, his mother held on to his left heel while dipping him, thereby leaving him more vulnerable in that particular area (and just a little bit mortal). Despite Achilles’ extreme talent in battle, as well as his physical strength and endurance, his one weak area would eventually prove to be fatal. During battle, a clever enemy shot at his left heel with a poison arrow. This killed him, because that part of his foot was not protected by the immortality of the river Styx.
As a child, Achilles showed a natural tendency to hunt, and both Athena and Artemis were impressed with his growing talent. However, with this talent came the prophecy that Achilles would either be glorious and die early, or not be glorious and live a long life. Achilles chose the former option, knowing he would not return from the Trojan War alive. Before going to battle, Achilles’ mother sent him to the island of Skyros, disguised as a female, to avoid the prophecy that he would die in the war. A seer predicted that the Greeks would not win without the help of Achilles, so Odysseus sought him out from his hiding place on the island. Achilles then joined the Greeks. He led the Myrmidones and Achaeans in battle against Troy. Achilles was favored by both Athena, goddess of War, and Hera. After ten years of fighting, Achilles got into an argument with Agamemnon, and refused to continue fighting.
One of Achilles’ most famous battles was against the Trojan hero Hector. After chasing Hector around the perimeter of Troy several times, Achilles killed Hector and then proceeded to tie him to a chariot and run it out to sea.
Achilles died before Troy was overtaken by the Greeks. The Iliad does not mention his death, but the Odyssey expressly mentions it. His killer is not named in some accounts; in others, it is Paris. The remains of his body were burned and, along with the remains of his friend, Patroclus, were buried in an urn near Hellespont. People continued to pay tribute to his burial site.
In literature, Achilles was loved and admired, and readers met his tale with a deep sense of sympathy. He is seen as a courageous, handsome Greek, sent unfairly to die in war. He is affectionate with others, including friends and family. He is considered fearless though vengeful, and extracting anger upon others is often referenced in his myths. However, he always remains obedient to the gods.
In today’s modern language, an “Achilles heel” is a weak spot, or a spot that, if tampered with, could cause great harm to the person in possession of said heel. The Achilles tendon is also a muscle running through the back of the calf of one’s leg, and into the ankle. It’s unlikely that one would ever die from an arrow wound here; however, the arrow that slayed the Greek Achilles was said to have been coated with poison.
English-Latin-Greek Cross References
There are thousands of English words that come from Latin and Greek sources that are presented in these Words for a Modern Age pages. The English-Latin-Greek Cross References are organized into thematic units that are based on the meanings of a Greek or Latin element (prefix, root, or suffix) where one can see the groups of related words instead of having individual terms separated in alphabetical lists as with dictionaries.
Knowing the etymologies of words give you verbal versatility. They are the tools with which you think, communicate, and learn. The more words you know, the better you can think, communicate, and absorb knowledge; not just about English, but about a variety of things that are important to you.
Words enhance your ability to survive in this modern world. The more limited your vocabulary is, the harder survival is in the global work place and certainly you want more than just to survive in this world of competing vocations or life work.
Building a large vocabulary doesn’t mean that you have to spend tedious hours memorizing long lists of words and their meanings. It does require that you become word conscious, that you have curiosity about words, not only about their meanings but about their origins or etymologies. Etymology is a method of learning words by associating them with their histories. When you learn the story that goes with a word, it is almost impossible to forget the word’s definition (or definitions). Etymology also teaches the origins of word parts (roots, prefixes, and suffixes) so that long words that seem hard to understand can be easily learned or analyzed.
Words convey all the knowledge that has ever been discovered, all the exciting ideas that were ever considered, and all the great thoughts that were ever expressed. Acquire a full, rich vocabulary, and you will gain entrance into a wider, more exciting world of knowledge and all kinds of information.
A machine programmed to do tasks when commanded.
(TO BE CONTINUED)