Wordy Weekly XIII

‘K’ this week. ‘K’ is an interesting letter. VERY few words exist in Latin, beginning with ‘K’, and only one yields a derivative, which actually begins with ‘C’, so Latin will be the wrong way round this week, so to speak. Greek ‘kappa’ gives us several derivatives. Some start with a ‘K’ in English, and others begin with a C’. We shall explore one of each.


i) Latin – Kal: Kal in Latin is an abbreviation for ‘Kalends’, which is the first day of each month. Guess what, we get our word ‘Calendar’ from this, a thing which charts the details of all the dates of the year. How the Roman dating system works is an interesting one, and for fun, I used to do a lesson on it for my year nine and ten classes on 15th March (Ides of March). Feature on BC soon.


ii) Kinetic – this comes from the Greek verb κινέω – ‘to set in motion, move’. The cognate adjective of this verb ‘κινητικός’ – ‘of or relating to motion’, hence ‘kinetic’ meaning ‘of movement’. ‘Kinetic energy’ is the ‘energy possessed by an object in relation to its motion’. The Greek word κινημα, meaning ‘movement’ or ‘thing which moves’ gives us ‘cinema’, perhaps, hence ‘Motion Picture’ or ‘Movie’.


iii) Kudos – the Greek word ‘κύδος’. We use the word in the sense of ‘credit’ or ‘a boost in public esteem, status’. The original Greek word means ‘glory’ or ‘renown’, especially in war, closely linked to the Greek ‘κλέος’, which is the long lasting glory and name derived from great, heroic deeds. Homeric heroes were hungry for both.

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