Here’s my dorky side coming out a little: I really like thinking about (and finding) seemingly disparate words that are in fact closely related through their original roots.  One of my favorite sets, for instance, is that stemming from the latin word for “hang” – pendulum, pending, depend, suspend, append (& prepend), pendant, impending, perpendicular, appendage, etc.

I just discovered a new set that is (to me) pretty exciting:

  • Decapitate
  • Capitulate
  • Recap
  • Chapter

What do these have in common?  They’re all from the latin for “head.”  Decapitate is obvious, but I never connected the others to the same root (despite the common syllable) until yesterday morning.  It turns out that capitulating was originally surrendering in battle – and drawing up the terms of surrender under their various headings.  Recap is an abbreviation of recapitulation, which has nothing to do with giving in, but rather summarizing by going through point by point, or rather, heading by heading.  Chapter – same idea.  Headings!

I imagine that there is someone reading this (Dad?) to whom this set is one of the obvious ones… but it wasn’t to me, and I was excited to discover it.

And now, so this post is not a complete waste of time for those who are not interested in etymology – a ladybug, on a rather dirty leaf.



10 thoughts on “Cognates

  1. Pingback: From the Garden: Decapitation & Fishing With Electricity | Not So Distant Past

  2. I studied linguistics in college so this is fascinating to me. I’ve never thought of groups of words like that before.

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