Sunday, November 23, 2008

#3: mitto, mittere, misi, missum: send; abandon

Welcome back to the third edition of one of the most prolific Latin roots that give rise to multitudinous English vocabulary words, the Latin root: mitto, mittere, misi, missum—to send, abandon {mess, mit, muss}. A beautiful arboreal word list of all the English derivatives that come from this Latin root can be found on this Greek and Latin root words site; to see this Latin roots tree directly with all its attendant English vocabulary words, including many SAT and GRE prep words, see this Greek and Latin roots word tree. Latin verbs tend to be those classical parts of speech which have the most influence over word origin, the importance of which can be read about in its entirety at, that site which elucidates fully the importance of Greek and Latin roots over English vocabulary today. In this series of posts I am taking an etymological journey through teaching vocabulary from the simplest of the mittere derivatives to the most difficult. This exploration of English vocabulary continues with SAT vocabulary; here follows the second post of these multitudinous SAT words, which will take the form of a series of questions.

Mitto, mittere, misi, missum--to send, abandon {mess, mit, muss}

Committo, committere, commisi, commissum--to pledge, join, send together

Permitto, permittere, permisi, permissum--to allow to do, send through

Are you committed to anyone? If so, you have "pledged" yourself to him or her, having "sent together" your life with his or hers. Of course, there are many forms of committment to another, including verbal, contractual, societal, marital, and those of the heart, the latter of which is within the realm of human friendship, a word which ultimately traces back to the Proto-Indo-European root pri-: to love. (Note that "friend" is cognate with "pri-" because, through Grimm's law, "p's" and "f's" are interchangeable among languages, as are "v's" and "b's."

Are you uncompromising when it comes to your promises, that is, are your words "sent forth in trust" kept thereas, being not sent forth in trust again to someone else? If so, you are unwavering in your fidelity towards that pledge. For instance, one can be uncompromising in her commitment to excellence, therefor trying as best she can (and not in a wishy washy conciliatory way to one's day to day lackadaisical foibles) each and every day, sans transitory excuses, which is all dependent, of course, on one's strength of will and level of energy...try yoga: a true miracle drug.

Although most comic book characters possess an arch nemesis that tries his diabolical best to contribute wholeheartedly to the demise of each and every superhero, that is, to his "sending away," or "release," that is, his termination or death, it is a rare occurrence that the nefarious and facinorous fiends ever succeed; imagine Spiderman being defeated by Dr. Octopus, or the Thing by Dr. Doom, or Thor by Loki; not gonna happen. The words superhero and demise don't go together very well.

Have you ever known an emissary, or someone "sent forth" for a particular job, to fail in her endeavor? For instance, have you ever sent an emissary to the Likouala Swamp region of the Congo (at 55,000 square miles, or about the size of Florida, it is by far the world's largest swamp) to look for the Mokele-mbembe, and have her unwittingly, and most certainly unwillingly, step into a pythons' nest, only to have her demise reported 10 months later? Too bad the Nuvi didn't work in the middle of that paludal morass.

A likely premise in the search for the Loch Ness Monster is the idea that Loch Ness was somehow once in contact with the ocean, and has since been shut off from it, likely trapping large marine reptiles. This suggestion, "sent on beforehand," helps to explicate the existence of large creatures that could have migrated there from that larger body of water, hence now dwelling within the premises of Scotland's largest lake in volume, possessing more fresh water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined, primarily due to its 754' depth and 21+ square miles.

Has anyone ever been falsely submissive to you, seemingly to "send" himself "beneath" your command, but in reality being only a sneaky sycophant only interested in obliquely controlling you to get what he wants through false and underhanded obsequiousness? This slimy circuitous conduct occurs all the time in the business world, everyone knows about it, and yet those to whom lesser beings are outwardly submissive are confusingly hoodwinked anyway. Human vanity on hire for power, anyone? Vanity not so fair?

Sometimes it is easy to surmise, or "send over" (note that the prefix "sur" comes via French from the Latin preposition super: over, above; another example of the use is in the word surname, or that name which is "above" all in the family, that is, the collective last name that links all members together, like the cognomen, or "clan" name of the Romans) a guess or conjecture about why someone does something; however, one rarely knows the motives behind another person's conduct, sometimes not even one's very own; Marcel Proust, in Remembrance of Things Past, has a wonderful section on this attempt at surmisal of why another does something; after giving about six or seven different reasons, the reader is left with the surmise that there could even the number of possible reasons equal to umbrellas thrown over the heads of all the people at Grant Park to hear Barack Obama's stunning acceptance speech.

Please stay tuned for next week's etymological divulging I delve into GRE vocabulary words that come from the Latin root mittere. With your permission, or act of "sending through" I will now cease and desist, sending the reader pleasantly off to the hinterlands of etymological rumination.

Interested in a classical Greek and Latin roots SAT word of the day, which includes SAT vocabulary based on Greek or Latin root words? Interested in seeing more of the Greek and Latin root word trees discussed above, or even a Greek and Latin roots poster? English vocabulary becomes transparent once one knows the word origins code of the English language, the vastest part of which is, bar none, Latin and Greek root words.