Word RootsIf you found the last post on roots helpful, here are 2 more roots which cover 25 GRE words. For those of you who have come directly to this post, here’s a link that will help you understand why we are talking about roots so much: go to first roots post. (But basically, it helps to make learning the GRE words much easier).
genus generis (14 words)
The Latin word genus (cognate with Greek ‘genos’ and the Sanskrit root ‘jan’) has produced a number of English words. Genus has two basic forms: ‘genus’ and ‘generis’ (the second of which is more important because most derived words in English and other modern European languages have come from it whereas ‘genus’ exists as a single English word).
Genus, like Sanskrit ‘janaḥ’, means essentially “that which is born, people” (Sanskrit ‘jan’). The derived GRE words have the basic idea of birth, production, family, type, kind:
- generate — to give birth to, produce, create e.g. the hardest challenge in essay writing is how to generate ideas.
- genus — kind, race e.g. one can see straightaway from their appearance that these two animals are not from the same genus.
- generic — pertaining to kind or race e.g. in Britain the word ‘Paki’ is used as a generic term for all South East Asians, whether they are from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh or Pakistan .
- general — relating to a kind e.g. loyalty is a trait found in all dogs in general
- generality — the quality of relating to a kind e.g.the generality of his descriptions is such that they apply to everybody in general and no body in particular; it is impossible to identify any one on the basis of descriptions of such generality.
- genre — a type, specifically a type of art e.g. detective novels and thrillers are some of the popular novelistic genres; romantic comedies are a popular genre in Hindi films.
The addition of a number of prefixes (as in Sanskrit) produces a variety of GRE words:
- regenerate — to produce again, reproduce e.g. lizards can regenerate lost limbs.
- degenerate — (de reverses the meaning of the verb, hence) to decay, decline e.g. Alzheimers is a disease that causes the brain to degenerate.
- engender — (a French form of Latin ingenerare; en and in mean in, hence) to produce within something) e.g according to the Mahatma ‘violence engenders violence’. OR His unusual upbringing engendered within him a complete disregard for distinctions based on class, religion,caste or sex.
This last word illustrates an important principle that will help you extend your knowledge of GRE words even further. After the conquest of England by the Norman French, Old English — Anglo-Saxon) was transformed by the language of the invaders, which was descended from Latin, and thus gave Old English an enormous number of Latin-origin words, the “first wave” of its Latinate vocabulary; the second wave, derived directly from Latin, would come a few centuries later). The Greek word genos (birth, descent, race) is closely related to Latin genus, and produces the following words in the list of GRE words:
- genesis — birth, origin e.g. the genesis of this mystery goes back to the time when the earth was being formed.
- eugenic — relating to good (eu) birth, the generation of healthy people e.g. the leaders felt that the intermarrying of Chinese, Europeans, Africans and Asians would not at all be eugenic.
Closely related to genus is another Latin word, gens (gentis) (meaning descent, clan, race), which produces the following GRE words:
- gentry — people of high, noble descent e.g. the gentry sat separately from the common folk.
- gentility — noble descent, nobility e.g. Though they no longer owned grand houses, horses and servants, you could still make out their gentility.
- genteel — characteristic of the upper class despite their poverty, they found it difficult to abandon their genteel tastes and habits.
4. agere (13 words)
The Latin word agere — to do, set in motion, drive, urge, chase, stir up) produces many GRE words:
- agenda — things to be done, items of business, actuate (to cause to do, to motivate) e.g. there are several items on the agenda for this meeting.
- actuarial — pertaining to public business (actus, thing done), calculating, pertaining to insurance statistics, agility (rapid movement, nimbleness) e.g. making policies that would not result in too high a number of claims is part of the actuarial work in the business of insurance
- agitate — (from agere, agitare, to move something to and fro) stir up, disturb e.g. the agitator in washing machines is so called since its function is to agitate the detergent and clothes in the water.
- cogent — (from cogere, com-agere, to drive together, compel) convincing e.g. I am afraid I don’t find his arguments at all cogent.
- exacting — (forcing out (ex), hence) extremely demanding e.g. nowadays computers and robots carry out the exacting work of making sure that every one of the thousands of components produced daily in a modern assembly line have been made precisely according to specifications.
- exiguous – (from extended meaning of measured, exact, hence) small, minute e.g. I cannot live on such an exiguous salary.
- exigency – (from extended meaning of to demand) require, hence) urgent situation e.g. the exigencies of war demand quick responses.
- reactionary – (acting back or in response (re), hence) opposing progress, politically ultraconservative e.g. khaps which allow, encourage or demand honor killings when inter-caste marriages are reactionary in their thinking.
- intransigence – (from transigere, to drive through (trans), accomplish, agree; with negative prefix in) refusal to agree or make any compromise, stubbornness e.g. we failed to reach a compromise only because of his intransigence.
- cogitate – (from com, together, agitare (frequentative form), to repeatedly drive thoughts together in the mind, hence) to think over e.g. we cannot solve this problem with superficial thought: we must cogitate.
- retroactive – (acting backwards (re), hence) taking effect before its enactment (in the case of a law) or imposition (in the case of a tax) e.g. it is unfair to pass laws that tax them with retroactive effect: it is like telling farmers who have just reaped an abundant harvest that they will have to give a large part of it to the local landlord. Had they known before hand they would not have planned on using up
- ambiguous – (leading about (ambi), hence) unclear or doubtful in meaning e.g. ambiguous statements like "the chicken is ready to eat" (which could mean: 'the chicken is hungry and would like something to eat' or 'the chicken is cooked and now we can eat it') can be quite funny
- prodigal – (driving away (pro), wasting, hence) wasteful, reckless with money e.g. prodigal expenditure on weddings forces many Indians into poverty.
If you found this post useful keep looking for our posts on the roots as a way to learn GRE words - they will really help!