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Patron and Matron

Patron and Matron

As Latin scholars may recognize, patron and matron are cognate with the Latin words for “mother” and “father.” However, their senses, and those of inflectional forms of these words, extend beyond the immediately family.

Patron, which means “sponsor” or “supporter,” ultimately derives from the Latin term pater, meaning “father,” but the senses of its intermediate form, patronus, are “bestower,” “lord,” and “master” as well as “model” and “pattern.” (Pattern, as a matter of fact, stems from patron, the identical French forebear of the English word.) Because of the diversity of definitions, a patron can be a wealthy philanthropist who supports an artistic endeavor or a social cause or a mere customer of a business establishment. The similar-looking term patroon, a Dutch variation on the French word, denotes in historical American English usage a landholder in Dutch colonial territories in what is now the northeastern United States.

Patronage applies in either sense to the act of being a patron. Likewise, patronize has a dual meaning: In its positive connotation, it simply describes being a customer, but it also has the pejorative sense of “condescend,” or “look down on,” from the notion of a person of higher social status arrogantly regarding someone of supposedly inferior standing.

Two words that contain the letter sequence seen in patron but are descended directly from pater are patronym (literally, “father’s name”) and patronymic (literally, “from the father’s name”); the latter is both a noun and an adjective.

Matron, from the Latin word mater by way of matron, meaning “married woman,” also has modern senses that deviate from its familial origins: The word now signifies a woman with a mature demeanor and high social status, though the adjective matronly derogatorily suggests someone of a certain age and a certain bulk. In a wedding party, however, a married maid of honor is called a matron of honor regardless of age or size. Historically, a female supervisor in a public institution such as a prison or a school was called a matron, and in animal husbandry, a matron is the female equivalent of a stud.

Matronym and matronymic are the female equivalents of patronym and patronymic.

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Grammar Quiz #14: Irregular Verbs

Grammar Quiz #14: Irregular Verbs

Choose the verb that fills the blank most appropriately.

1. No sooner had the family spread out their picnic, than it _______ to rain.
a) began
b) begun

2. When I saw the look on Zack’s face, I knew he had _______ his promise.
a) broken
b) broke

3. At the signal everyone _______ and began to sing.
a) raised
b) rose

4. If you ________ around all day, you will never amount to anything.
a) lay
b) lie

5. Lucille _______ very still and listened intently to her aunt’s instructions.
a) set
b) sat

Answers and Explanations

1. No sooner had the family spread out their picnic, than it began to rain.
a) began

The principal parts of this verb are begin, began, (have) begun. The simple past “began” is called for here.

2. When I saw the look on Zack’s face, I knew he had broken his promise.
a) broken

The principal parts of this verb are break, broke, (have) broken. The past participle form broken is used with the helping verb had.

3. At the signal everyone rose and began to sing.
b) rose

The verb rise is an intransitive verb meaning “to stand up” or “ascend.” The principal parts are rise, rose, (have) risen.

4. If you lie around all day, you will never amount to anything.
b) lie

The principal parts of the intransitive verb lie, meaning “to recline,” are lie, lay, (have) lain. The present tense is called for in an “if clause” when the result clause is in future tense.

5. Lucille sat very still and listened intently to her aunt’s instructions.
b) sat

The intransitive verb sit means “to be seated.” Its principal parts are sit, sat, (have) sat. The verb set is transitive. It takes an object. The principal parts of set are set, set, (have) set.

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3 Cases of Incomplete Parallel Structure

3 Cases of Incomplete Parallel Structure

In each of the sentences below, an action or result is described in comparison or contrast to another, but the phrasing that expresses the parallel between the two phenomena is faulty. Discussion after each example explains the problem, and revisions illustrate solutions.

1. The statue was vandalized in a similar fashion as another statue in Monterey last year.

The middle portion of this sentence presents a flawed comparison—“similar . . . as” is not valid phrasing; to repair the damage, relocate fashion so that it precedes similar and proceed to thoroughly express the comparison: “The statue was vandalized in a fashion similar to that of another act of vandalization in Monterey last year.” (Alternatively, rephrase as follows: “The damage was similar to that which occurred in another act of vandalization in Monterey last year.”)

2. U.S. federal regulators are increasingly issuing and enforcing rules in ways that differ from other countries.

Here, issuance and enforcement of rules in one nation is compared to other nations themselves rather than to these processes as they occur in other nations; the statement should be reworded to indicate this additional layer of detail: “U.S. federal regulators are increasingly issuing and enforcing rules in ways that differ from approaches in other countries.”

3. Referring to the United States, his country’s treaty ally but which has criticized his deadly drug crackdown, he elaborated on his comments.

In this sentence, the phrase “one that” better corresponds with the phrase that precedes but than the pronoun which: “Referring to the United States, his country’s treaty ally but one that has criticized his deadly drug crackdown, he elaborated on his comments.” For a more closely parallel counterpoint, retain which but apply it to the corresponding phrase as well: “Referring to the United States, which is his country’s treaty ally but which has criticized his deadly drug crackdown, he elaborated on his comments.”

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The Prefix “Hypo” and Related Words

The Prefix “Hypo” and Related Words

A recent post listed and defined words with the Greek prefix hyper– (meaning “above,” “beyond,” or “over”). Here, words based on its antonym, hypo-, are the focus.

The most common words beginning with hypo– include hypodermic (literally, “under skin”), an adjective describing injection under the skin or tissue or growths beneath the skin (the word is also employed as a noun, and hypo is a common truncation), and hypothermia (“under heat”), the term for abnormally low body temperature.

Other medical conditions include hypoglycemia (“under sugar blood”)—colloquially known as “low blood sugar”—and hypochondria (“under cartilage”), mental depression in which the sufferer imagines physical ailments, so named from the original belief that such feelings originated in the abdominal organs; the term for the pathological state is hypochondriasis. Hypochondriac is both an adjective describing the condition and a noun pertaining to the sufferer.

Hypoallergenic means “unlikely to cause an allergic reaction,” and the hypothalamus is a key part of the brain that regulates automatic processes in the body. Oxygen deficiency is called hypoxia, and hypomania is a mild mania associated with bipolar disorder. (The respective adjectives are hypoxic and hypomanic.)

Other well-known words in the hypo– family are hypocrisy (“under decide”), which evolved in meaning in Greek from “sift” to “play a part” and now describes actions or attitudes that contradict one’s stated beliefs or opinions, and hypothesis (“under proposition”), which denotes something assumed and taken for granted for the sake of argument; the plural is hypotheses. One who demonstrates hypocrisy is deemed hypocritical and called a hypocrite. The adjectival form for hypothesis is hypothetical, and the verb form is hypothesize.

A hypotenuse is the side of a right triangle opposite the right angle. (The root word is the basis of tension and tenuous.)

More obscure terms in this group include hypocorism (“under caress”), meaning “pet name,” as in a diminutive like Bobby, a term of endearment such as honey, or baby-talk forms of address such as papa; such words are hypocoristic. One who lives underground is hypogean (the antonym is epigean), and a hypocaust is a chamber for lighting a fire to heat rooms located above. (The root is the same as that seen in holocaust.)

A disguised relation is hyphen—literally, “under one,” because the mark was originally located beneath the words to be connected.

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More About “Mission”

More About “Mission”

A recent post listed and defined many words containing the element mit and miss and descended from the Latin verb mittere, meaning “send.” This follow-up offers related words not as easily discerned as being part of the mittere family.

But first, here are the details about a word integral to this vocabulary family but not discussed in the previous post: Mission, the word that often forms the root of the noun form of words in the mittere family, itself means “job” or “task” or sometimes refers to those sent to do a job or task. Because the practice of sending religious personnel to convert people or provide aid to them historically also had political and economic motivations, the term came to apply also to assignments of diplomatic personnel and trade representatives.

Also from the religious sense, a complex of buildings constructed to support such work is called a mission. (A particular style of architecture and furniture inspired by buildings and furnishings for Catholic missions in North America is called “mission style.”) Someone engaged in mission work in a religious context is a missionary; that term is also employed as an adjective to describe someone very supportive of a cause or eager about a job; this fervor might be described as “missionary zeal.”

Mass, describing a church service,” derives from Latin by way of the Old English term mæsse, which refers to the church service known as the Eucharist; it likely stems from the priest’s concluding statement, “Missa est” (“It has been sent”). Religious documents and publications generally capitalize the term, while in lay usage it is usually lowercase. (The noun and verb mass, referring to a large amount or crowd, is unrelated.) A missal, meanwhile, is a book containing prayers said or sung at various times of year during masses.

Mess in the dining sense, usually employed to describe a meal seating in a military context, comes from the notion of sending a meal to be eaten. The sense of “jumble” or “state of confusion or untidiness,” and the meaning, by extension, of “quantity” derives from the original sense applied to mixed food given to animals.

A message is a communication (as a verb, the word means “communicate by message” or “send a communication”); it can also apply, more broadly, to an idea or theme. The near synonym missive refers specifically to a letter, while a missile is a weapon “sent” by projecting or throwing.

The phrase mise-en-scène, borrowed directly from French, literally means “setting on the stage” and is based on the French noun mise, “a placing or putting”; it refers to the physical arrangement of performers and scenery in a live or recorded dramatic presentation or, by extension, the context or setting of a narrative or the environment of a place in general.

To dismiss is to disregard or send away; such an act is a dismissal.

Demise is a formal synonym for death that also applies to the end of activity or existence or the loss of position or status, as well as conveying sovereignty or an estate; in the latter sense, it is used in legal contexts as a verb. (In the sense of “death,” such usage is rare.) A premise is an idea or statement accepted as true or the sake of argument or to discuss a reasoning; the word is also employed as a verb in that sense. In plural form, it has the specific formal meaning “buildings and the piece of land on which they are built.” (This usage stems from the fact that in legal documents, where such property was often described, premise was employed to mean “something previously stated.”)

Surmise means “imagine” or “infer,” or refers to having a poorly supported idea or thought; such is also referred to as a surmise.

A promise is a pledge or vow—one literally “sent forth”—or the action of pledging or vowing; the word also pertains to an expectation, as in “the promise of rain” or “showing promise.”

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Vocabulary Quiz #9: Formal Communication

Vocabulary Quiz #9: Formal Communication

Rewrite the following sentences to reflect the vocabulary expected in formal communication.

1. The clinic specializes in the treatment of kids 4-12.

2. He should of known that Jackson could not be trusted.

3. Hodges was terminated for insubordination, but Hodges says he was going to resign anyways.

4. The company is going to move its corporate headquarters to Atlanta, irregardless of what the shareholders have to say.

5. Police busted three drug dealers in the early morning raid.

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: The clinic specializes in the treatment of kids 4-12.
Correct : The clinic specializes in the treatment of children 4-12.

Although widely used, “kid” is still not an appropriate choice when speaking or writing in a serious context.

2.
Original: He should of known that Jackson could not be trusted.
Correct : He should have known that Jackson could not be trusted.

The spelling “should of” is influenced by oral speech and is slipping into written English where “should have” is called for.

3.
Original: Hodges was terminated for insubordination, but Hodges says he was going to resign anyways.
Correct : Hodges was terminated for insubordination, but Hodges says he was going to resign anyway.

The standard form of the adverb is anyway. At this stage in its use, the word anyways bears a connotation of insolence.

4.
Original: The company is going to move its corporate headquarters to Atlanta, irregardless of what the shareholders have to say.
Correct : The company is going to move its corporate headquarters to Atlanta, regardless of what the shareholders have to say.

The word irregardless gained popularity from its comical use on a radio program. Speakers and writers who do not intend to be humorous will choose regardless.

5.
Original: Police busted three drug dealers in the early morning raid.
Correct : Police arrested three drug dealers in the early morning raid.

Criminal slang has become very common in the U. S. news media, especially in headlines. The effect is to normalize the criminal viewpoint in a way that perhaps the writer does not intend.

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3 Easy Ways to Write More Concisely

3 Easy Ways to Write More Concisely

Writers can employ various categorical strategies to make their writing more active and concise. Here are three simple types of unnecessary wording to keep in mind (and out of one’s writing).

1. Extinguish Expletives

An expletive is an indirect phrase that only delays a reader’s acquaintance with the writer’s point. Expletives include “There is,” “there are,” “there was,” and “there were,” as well as any of these phrases with is substituting for there. It is not necessary to always delete expletives, as the current sentence demonstrates, but they should be employed judiciously. In most cases, simply sweep the expletive away and begin with a subject, as in revision of “There are other steps a company can take before an economic downturn to protect against its impact” to “A company can take other steps before an economic downturn to protect against its impact.”

2. Adjust Adjectives to Adverbs

Business-speak, when rendered as text, is often notoriously stilted and verbose. One class of wordy wording often found in business writing is represented by such adjective-noun phrases as “on a daily basis,” which is easily replaced by the adverbial form of the adjective (which in this case is identical: daily). Regarding similar usage, “This issue will be resolved on a case-by-case basis” is easily converted to “This issue will be resolved case by case.” (Again, the replacement is identical, though the hyphens are now superfluous.) Sometimes, the writer must replace the adjective, as in the case of timely, which is seldom used as an adverb and does not stand as such on its own: To render “in a timely manner” more concise, for example, simply substitute promptly.

3. Avoid Adjectives

Some adjectives and adverbs themselves are extraneous. Such qualifiers as currently and different almost never contribute to comprehension. For example, in “We are currently accepting applications,” the verb are clearly represents that acceptance of application is a current state, meaning that currently serves no useful purpose, and “These shirts come in seven different colors” provides no more information than “These shirts come in seven colors,” and different can therefore be omitted without negative consequences.

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The Prefix “Hyper” and Related Words

The Prefix “Hyper” and Related Words

Words with the Greek prefix hyper– (meaning “above,” “beyond,” or “over”) are listed and defined in this post. (A subsequent post will focus on words with the antonymic prefix hypo.)

In the medical realm, hyperactivity is excessive behavior often associated with attention deficit disorder (ADD)—also referred to as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)—though the term often refers informally to overactivity in general; the adjectival form is hyperactive, which is commonly colloquially abbreviated to hyper.

Meanwhile, hypertension is abnormally high blood pressure and the attendant condition affecting the entire body. Another of numerous medical terms with the root hyper– is hyperventilation, which originally referred to medical treatment by exposure to drafts of air; now, the word pertains to excessively rapid breathing and is often employed informally to describe overexcitement.

Hyperplasia and hypertrophy both refer to excessive growth; the roots mean “formation” and “nourishment,” respectively. Hyperaphia, meanwhile, is excessive sensitivity to touch; the adjectival form is hyperaphic.

Hyperbole (literally, “throwing beyond”—bole is cognate with ball) is exaggeration; a hyperbola, by comparison, is a specific type of geometric curve. (Hyperbolic serves as an adjective for both words.) Another term pertaining to rhetoric is hyperbaton (literally, “overstepping”), which refers to an inversion of the traditional word order in a sentence.

A hyperborean is someone who lives in the far north regions of Earth; borean is cognate with boreal, meaning “northern”—a form of which is seen in “aurora borealis,” or “northern lights.” (Because the Hyperboreans of Roman mythology were beyond the reach of Boreas, the Roman god of the north wind, their domain was thought to be a paradise. Another name from Roman mythology is that of Hyperion, a Titan later associated in his characteristics with the god Apollo.)

To be hypercritical or hypersensitive is to be excessively judgmental or emotionally vulnerable in the face of judgment, respectively.

A hyperlink is an electronically enabled connection between a document or file and a similar element online or an online location; the word is derived from the notion of such a connection being “super.” (Hyperlink is also employed as a verb to describe making such a connection.) Hypermedia is a lesser-known term encompassing forms of media other than writing.

In science, hyperspace describes multidimensional space; in science fiction, the term denotes a distinct dimensional region that enables faster-than-light travel. In the latter realm, hyperdrive is a form of propulsion that enables entering hyperspace, and the velocity at which hyperspace travel can occur is hyperspeed (prominent in Star Wars media but not to be confused with the concept of warp speed, which was popularized by the Star Trek entertainment franchise).

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Missions and Omissions

Missions and Omissions

The words listed and defined in this post all stem from the Latin verb mittere, which means “send.” They have in common the element mit (or miss).

To admit (literally, “send to”), for example, is to allow something to enter or be sent in, though the word also pertains to acknowledging or conceding something. Such a concession is also referred to as an admission, while in addition, admission is the process or state of allowing entrance or the fee paid for entrance, and admissible means “able to be admitted” (usually in a legal context).

To commit (“send with”) is to obligate or pledge oneself or another to a task, to entrust for safekeeping, or to promise resources; it also applies to carrying out a crime or to placing someone in a mental hospital or in prison. An obligation or pledge, or an act of entrusting or placing, is a commitment, while the enactment of a crime is a commission. That word also pertains to a group of people convened to accomplish a task (a commissioner is an individual given such a charge); committee is a cognate synonym. Commission also applies to a fee paid to an agent or an employee for selling something and to an authorization given to someone, as in the conferral of military authority and rank. As a verb, it applies to making an assignment or order or preparing a vessel for operation.

Emit (“send out”) usually is employed in the context of giving out energy such as light or heat, or a scent. In addition, one may emit a sound, and something officially issued may be emitted. On who does so is an emitter, and an emission is something sent out; the term usually applies to exhaust fumes from a vehicle.

To omit (“send out,” from the notion of sending it so that it is not included) is to leave out; something excluded is an omission. To permit (“send forward”) is to allow, and the word serves as a noun describing documentation allowing something to be done or to happen, while the authority granted to do something is permission. Remit (“send back”) pertains to sending something (such as money) or to canceling a debt or other obligation. The word is also a noun referring to an area of authority or responsibility, while the noun remission not only refers to canceling or reducing something but also to an improvement of health. (In this case, a patient is said to be in remission.)

Submit (“send under”) means “place under control of another” or “refer to another for consideration”; the act of doing so in either sense is submission. (That word also pertains in the second sense to the thing submitted.) Transmit (“send across”) pertains to conveying something (such as a disease) or conducting energy or sending a message in the form of electric signals. In addition to serving as the noun form for these senses, transmission pertains to the system of parts that conveys power to a vehicle. (Informally, car mechanics and enthusiasts use the nickname tranny in this sense, though the word is also a sometimes pejorative truncation of the word transvestite.)

Definitions for less common descendants of mittere follow: To demit (“send down”) is to resign or to withdraw from membership or office, to intermit (“send between”) is to discontinue, to manumit (“send from one’s hand”) is to release from slavery, and to pretermit (“send past”) is to let pass, neglect, or suspend. Demit has no forms in other parts of speech, but intermittent means “at intervals” or “seasonally,” an intermission is an interruption (usually, a scheduled break in the midst of a live performance or a film screening), and manumission is a synonym for emancipation (which shares an element meaning “hand”), or freeing from slavery. Pretermission is synonymous with omission.

A subsequent post will detail members of the mittere family in which the root is disguised.

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Grammar Quiz #13: Pronouns

Grammar Quiz #13: Pronouns

Correct any pronoun forms that are incorrect in the sentences below.

1. My mother expected my brother and I to do well in school.

2. Mike and me are going to Mexico this summer.

3. Myself and Alan volunteer every Saturday at the animal shelter.

4. When we get to the theme park, all the passengers have to look out for theirselves.

5. The principal suspended the boys whom had been responsible for the damage.

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: My mother expected my brother and I to do well in school.
Correct : My mother expected my brother and me to do well in school.

The pronoun is the indirect object of “expected” and the semantic subject of the infinitive phrase “to do well in school.”

2.
Original: Mike and me are going to Mexico this summer.
Correct : Mike and I are going to Mexico this summer.

“Me” is incorrect because it is part of the subject.

3.
Original: Myself and Alan volunteer every Saturday at the animal shelter.
Correct : Alan and I volunteer every Saturday at the animal shelter.

“Myself” is a reflexive pronoun. Using it as a subject is erroneous. I flipped the subject word order in the corrected sentence because putting the other person first is civil practice.

4.
Original: When we get to the theme park, all the passengers have to look out for theirselves.
Correct : When we get to the theme park, all the passengers have to look out for themselves.

“Theirselves” is not a standard English word. “Themselves” is the correct pronoun.

5.
Original: The principal suspended the boys whom had been responsible for the damage.
Correct : The principal suspended the boys who had been responsible for the damage.

“Who” is the subject of the clause “who had been responsible.”

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