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Word Groups: Cad, Cas, Cid; Cand; Caneh; and Cap, Cept

Latin and Greek families of words

Many English words come from closely related family groups

Word group: Latin cad, cas, cid, "to fall"

Why is the word occident, which means "the lands of the West, from the same root that means "to fall"?

It is because to ancient people, the rising of the sun each morning was a dramatic event, signaling the end of night and the beginning of day.

When the sun went down at the end of the day, it was seen to fall in the general direction of the Western lands. Ancient people reckoned their directions by the rising and setting of the sun. The Orient meant the direction of the rising sun, the lands of the "East".

Today, when you orient yourself, you determine your position. In these modern times, you may, or may not, use the sun as your guide, but your ancestors certainly did.

Word group: Latin cand, "to glow, to be shining white, to burn" from candere, "to glow white"

With political corruption making daily headlines, and with elected officials serving jail terms, we can not help but marvel at the fact that the word candidate derives from the root which means "to be shining white". White, of course, symbolizes purity.

The meaning of root originated with an old Roman custom. When a man ran for public office in ancient Rome, he wore a toga; a long, shining, white cloak.

With this garb, the candidate stood out in a crowd. The people took notice of him and, because of his white garment, associated the candidate with honesty and goodness.

Word group: Hebrew kaneh, "reed"; Latin canna, "reed, pipe"

Long ago, tall, slender, and hollow reeds grew on the banks of the Jordan and the Nile Rivers. The word for reed in the Hebrew, Arabic, and Egyptian languages was kaneh. The word passed over into Greek and Latin, and into the languages of western Europe.

A rather remarkable word family grew from the root canna. Some are easy to trace back. Sugar "cane", a walking "cane", even a "cannon" are all clearly related to the reed in shape. With just a little imagination, the words "canal" and "channel" can also be associated with a pipe or groove.

It is probably more difficult to see how the word canon, or "law", derives from the root meaning "reed". Since reeds were long and straight, they were often used as measuring rods. From this concept, "reed" came to mean "a standard" and ultimately, "an authoritative standard", or "law".

Word group: Latin cap, cept, "to take, to seize"; capere, "to take"

This word element forms a small, but important, part of a large and important word: emancipation. When you become experienced at finding roots, prefixes, and suffixes in words, you will be able to take long words apart, and then put the parts together to discover the meaning of the word.

Emancipation literally means "the act of taking out of the hand"; therefore, "the act of setting free".

—Information for these vocabulary groups came from
Words Come in Families by Edward Horowitz, PhD.;
Hart Publishing Company, Inc.; New York; 1977; pages 25-38.


Pointing to English words for our modern age from Latin Greek sources English words for a Modern Age, especially those from Latin Greek sources or etymologies (prefixes,roots, suffixes).

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