Saturday, October 18, 2008

#1: medius: middle; in the middle; in half

A fine Latin roots adjective that gives rise to many English vocabulary words is the Latin root word medius: middle, in the middle, in half. Certainly of no mediocre importance in the rich history of word origins that give rise to English vocabulary words, its importance as a root word can be viewed in its immediate glory at this Greek and Latin root words venue by goggling at the medius tree, where you will see related Greek and Latin roots (for a detailed history of word origin in regards to root words, please visit my Introduction to Word Origin at The word list of English medius derivatives is quite extensive, and includes much GRE and SAT vocabulary, including SAT prep words and GRE prep words.
You may or may not recall that Billy's last attempt to date Morgan had been somewhat of a downer, as she was not impressed by his mediocre, or ordinary (that is, "middling") knowledge of French cuisine. Certainly not overjoyed with his own mediocrity when it came to impressing Morgan, Billy decided to no longer be so medieval (pertaining to the "middle" ages, via the Latin root stem: aevum: age...a reason why medieval is sometimes spelled mediaeval) in his attempts to woo her. Not really knowing, however, what to do, since he viewed his personality to be only medium at best, he decided to employ an intermediary, or "go-between" (etymologically: one who is in the "middle among" two people, via the Latin preposition today acting as a prefix inter: among, between) to aid and abet his Cupidian efforts; he needed someone else to pin that medal (the word medal comes from a Latin coin which was valued at ‘half’ a denarius; a medal also looks like a coin) on his chest which would delight the brilliant, lambent orbs of his beloved. Being a medievalist himself, he thought of all the great literature of the Middle Ages that he had perused while in English graduate school; suddenly he realized that he needed a veritable Dr. Pangloss, or one who might quip that all was indeed for the best, too, in Billy's world, from which he could ineluctably conclude that Morgan would soon be in his arms (ah, you quidnuncy quibblers, who realize that Voltaire's great work Candide was not written during medieval times but rather in 1759, please recall that our protagonist is in the throes of untoward passion, thus addling his usually excellent memory, having slipped now towards merely mediocre recall). Ah, but what to do?
Indeed, what? Looking through the One Onceler Onyon one day, he found an add for Panfloss, a self-proclaimed modern-day panacea, or curer of all woes, and as Billy had nothing to lose as Morgan was paying him no attention whatsoever, he decided to call upon Panfloss in the hopes of employing him for the purposes of amorous mediation, to mediate upon his behalf with his love who stood so high upon the celestial pedestal. When Panfloss arrived later on that day, and explained her name (not, she claimed, based upon Dr. Pangloss at all, but rather because she was an expert at cleaning her teeth very well, which excited Billy to the point of distraction since here was someone who would not stand for mediocrity, thus contracting mediocariocrity) he hired her on the spot, enjoining her to take immediate (immediate attention requires ‘full,’ or etymologically ‘not halfway’ care ‘right away,’) action on his behalf in the quest for his Dulcinea (not realizing the irony of using a mediator to take immediate action; in the fogginess of love much intellect is lost, that is, he should have been aware that care mediated or ‘resolved’ through another in the ‘middle’ causes delay, not to mention financial distress, the mediation thus suspect).
And what did the sharp, toothy acumen of Panfloss suggest after meditating (from the Latin root: meditor, meditari, meditatus sum: to reflect upon, muse over, consider, ponder, think over: sometimes Greek and Latin roots can be confused with others of similar ilk, a misunderstanding that can easily be overleapt by actually knowing one's Greek and Latin roots) upon Billy's biliary condition, made so irrational now by this fey enchantment? Consulting a medium (one who acts as an intermediary, or middle person, between the physical and spiritual planes) herself, Panfloss, all in a fluster, burst into Billy's room and suggested, quite peremptorily, an exploratory trip to the Mediterranean Sea (that sea in the "middle" of the land, via the Latin root terra: land, earth) to discover his own roots, to divulge whether or not any of his ancestors had pinned medals to their chests, to unearth a glorious past with which to woo the Unwooable!
Billy was now in a state of discombobulation, a quandary of immoderate proportions. What will he do?
Or, rather, what would he not do?
To find out, stay tuned for the next exciting etymological entree, containing virtually edible word roots and root words.

A striking Greek and Latin roots poster is available which contains this most non-mediocre Latin root, and numerous other Greek and Latin root words, based upon Word Empire III: Clarity, the most comprehensive Greek and Latin roots dictionary available.
To discover a daily SAT vocabulary word and a Onceler word, please check out my Greek and Latin roots word of the day, an entertaining and informative discussion on the wonders of word origin and the fun of the English language.