Why do people lie? To increase their sense of importance, to escape punishment, to gain an end that would otherwise be denied them, out of long-standing habit, or sometimes because they actually do not know the difference between fact and fancy. And, to come right down to it, can we always be certain what is true and what is false?
SESSION 10 – TEN SORTS OF LIARS
You don’t fool even some of the people
Everybody knows your prospensity for avoiding facts. You have built so unsavoury a reputation that only a stranger is likely to be misled – and then, not for long.
A notorious liar
To the highest summits of artistry
Rarely does anyone lie as convincingly or as convincingly or as artistically as you do. Indeed, your mastery of the art is so great that your lying is almost always crowned with success – and you have no trouble seducing an unwary listener into believing that you are telling gospel truth.
A consummate liar
Beyond redemption or salvation
You are impervious to correction. Often as you may be caught in your fabrications, there is no reforming you – you go right on lying despite the punishment, embarrassment, or unhappiness that your distortions of truth may bring upon you.
An incorrigible liar
Too old to learn new tricks
You are the victim of firmly fixed and deep-rooted habits. Telling untruths is as frequent and customary an activity as brushing your teeth in the morning, or having toast and coffee for breakfast, or lighting up a cigarette after dinner.
An inveterate liar
An early start
You have such a long history of persistent falsification that one can only suspect that your vice started when you were reposing in your mother’s womb.
A congenital liar
You never stop lying. While normal people lie on occasion, and often for special reasons, you lie continually – not occasionally or even frequently, but all the time.
A chronic liar
A strange disease
You are not concerned with the difference between truth and falsehood; you do not bother to distinguish fact from fantasy. Your lying is a disease that no antibiotic can cure.
A pathological liar
You are completely without a conscience. No matter what misery your fabrications may cause your innocent victims, you never feel the slightest twinge of guilt.
An unconscionable liar
Possessed of a lively imagination and a ready tongue, you can distort facts as smoothly and as effortlessly as you can say your name. But you do not always get away with your lies. Ironically enough, it is your very smoothness that makes you suspect: your answers are too quick to be true.
A glib liar
All your lies are vicious – calculatedly, predeterminedly, coldly, and advisedly vicious. In short, your lies are so outstandingly hurtful that people gasp in amazement and disgust at hearing them.
An egregious liar
These ten expressive adjectives are not restricted to lying or liars. Note their general meanings:
|notorious||Well known for some bad quality – a notorious philanderer|
|consummate||Perfect, highly skilled – consummate artistry at the keyboard|
|incorrigible||Beyond reform – an incorrigible optimist|
|inveterate||Long-accustomed, deeply habituated – an inveterate smoker|
|congenital||Happening before or during birth – a congenital deformity|
|chronic||Going on for a long time, or occurring again and again – chronic appendicitis|
|pathological||Diseased – a pathological condition|
|unconscionable||Without pangs of conscience – unconscionable cruelty to children|
|glib||Smooth, suspiciously fluent – a glib witness|
|egregious||Outstandingly bad or vicious – egregious error|
With the exception of consummate and congenital, all ten adjectives have strongly derogatory implications and are generally used to describe people, characteristics, or conditions we disapprove of.
Can you match the words?
notorious = unfavourably known
consummate = finished, perfect, artistic
incorrigible = beyond reform
inveterate = from long-standing habit
congenital = from birth
chronic = continuing over a long period of time; recurring
pathological = diseased
unconscionable = without conscience or scruples
glib = suspiciously smooth
egregious = outstandingly bad or vicious
Do you understand the words?
Do people become notorious for good acts? No
Is Beethoven considered a consummate musical genius? Yes
If a criminal is truly incorrigible, is there any point in attempting rehabilitation? No
Does an inveterate smoker smoke only occasionally? No
Is a congenital deformity one that occurs late in life? No
Is a chronic invalid ill much of the time? Yes
Is a pathological condition normal and healthy? No
If a person commits an unconscionable act of cruelty, is there any regret, remorse or guilt? No
Is a glib talker awkward and hesitant in speech? N
Is an egregious error very bad? Yes
SESSION 11 – NEW TRICKS FOR OLD DOGS
‘Widely but unfavourably known’ is the common definition for notorious. So: notorious liars, notorious gamblers, notorious thieves. The noun is notoriety.
The derivation is from Latin notus, known, from which we also get noted. It is an interesting characteristic of some words that a change of syllables can alter the emotional impact. Thus, an admirer of certain business executives will speak of them as ‘noted industrialists’; these same people’s enemies will call them ‘notorious exploiters’.
Plenty of room at the top
The top of a mountain is the summit, a word derived from Latin summus, highest, which also gives us the mathematical term sum, as in addition. A consummate artist has reached the very highest point of perfection; and to consummate a marriage or a business deal is, etymologically, to bring it to the highest point.
Note how differently consummate, the adjective, can be pronounced, compared with the verb to consummate.
To make a noun out of the adjective consummate, add either –ness or –acy; consummateness or consummacy. The noun from the verb to consummate is consummation.
Call people incorrigible if all efforts to correct or reform them are to no avail. Thus one can be an incorrigible criminal, an incorrigible optimist, or an incorrigible philanderer. The word derives from Latin corrigo, to correct or set straight, plus the negative prefix in-.
The noun is incorrigibility or, alternatively, incorrigibleness.
Inveterate comes from Latin vetus, old, plus prefix in-, in (not in the negative prefix as in incorrigible). Inveterate liars have been lying for so long, and their habits are by no so deeply-rooted, that one can scarcely remember when they ever told the truth.
The noun is inveteracy or inveterateness.
A veteran is an old hand at the game, and therefore skilful. The word is both a noun and an adjective: a veteran at (or in) swimming or police work – or a veteran actor or diplomat.
Greek genesis, birth or origin, is the source of a great many English words.
Genetics is the science that deals with the transmission of hereditary characteristics from parents to offspring. The scientist specializing in the field is a geneticist, the adjective is genetic. The particle containing a hereditary characteristic is a gene.
Genealogy is the study of family trees or ancestral origins (logos, study). The practitioner is a genealogist.
The genital, or sexual, organs are involved in the process of conception and birth. The genesis of anything is its beginning, and Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament, describes the creation, or birth, of the universe.
Congenital is constructed by combining the prefix con-, with or together, and the root genesis, birth. So a congenital defect, deformity, etc. occurs at some point during pregnancy or birth. Hereditary characteristics, on the other hand, are acquired at the moment of conception.
Congenital is used both literally and figuratively. Literally, it means some medical abnormality occurring during gestation. Figuratively, it exaggerates, for effect, the early existence of some quality: congenital liar, congenital fear of the dark, etc.
Can you match the words?
notoriety = ill fame
to consummate (v.) = bring to completion
consummacy = state of artistic height
incorrigibility = state of being beyond reform or correction
genetics = science of heredity
genealogy = study of ancestry
genital = referring to the reproductive or sexual organs
genesis = beginning, origin
hereditary = referring to characteristics passed on to offspring by parents
gene = particle that transmit hereditary characteristics
Do you understand the words?
Does notoriety usually come to perpetrators of mass murders? Yes
Is incorrigibility in a criminal a sign that rehabilitation is possible? No
Is a geneticist interested in your parents’ characteristics? Yes
Does inveteracy suggest that a habit is new? No
When you consummate a deal, do you back out of it? No
Is a veteran actress long experienced at her art? Yes
Is a genealogist interested in your family origins? Yes
Are the genital organs used in reproduction? Yes
Is the genesis of something the final point? No
Are hereditary characteristics derived from parents? Yes
SESSION 12 – OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF TIME
Of time and place
A chronic liar lies constantly, again and again; a chronic invalid is ill time after time, repeatedly. The derivation of the word is Greek chronos, time. The noun form is chronicity.
An anachronism is someone or something out of time, belonging to a different era, either earlier or later. (The prefix ana-, like a-, is negative.) The adjective is anachronous or anachronistic. Read a novel in which a scene is supposedly taking place in the nineteenth century and imagine one of the characters turning on a TV set. An anachronism!
An anachronism is out of time; something out of place is incongruous, a word combining the negative prefix in-, the prefix con-, with or together, and a Latin verb meaning to agree or correspond. For example, it would be incongruous to take a pet guinea-pig to church. The noun form of incongruous is incongruity.
Chronological, in correct time order, comes from chronos. To tell a story chronologically is to relate the events in the time order of their occurrence. Chronology is either a list of events in the time order in which they have occurred, or the science of the accurate dating of events (logos, science) – the expert in this field is a chronologist.
A chronometer, combining chronos with metron, measurement, is a highly accurate timepiece, especially one used on ships. Chronometry is the measurement of time – the adjective is chronometric.
Add the prefix syn-, together, plus the verb suffix –ize, to chronos, and you have constructed synchronize, etymologically to time together, or to move or happen at the same time or rate, as for example in synchronized swimming. The adjective is synchronous; the noun form of the verb synchronize is synchronization.
Disease, suffering, feeling
The Greek word pathos, suffering, gives us pathology, the science or study of disease. Pathology may also be any diseased or abnormal physical condition; in short, simply disease; hence pathological, meaning diseased. A pathologist is an expert who examines tissue to diagnose disease.
Pathos occurs in some English words with the additional meaning of feeling. If you feel or suffer with someone, you are sympathetic – sym– is a respelling before the letter p of the Greek prefix syn-, with or together. The noun is sympathy, the verb sympathize.
The prefix anti– means against. If you experience antipathy to people or things, you feel against them – you feel strong dislike or hostility. The adjective is antipathetic.
But you may have no feeling at all – you are apathetic; a-, the negative prefix. The noun is apathy, as in moral apathy, etc.
On the other hand, you may be so sensitive or perceptive that you identify with another’s feelings – you have empathy; you empathize, you are empathetic, or, to use an alternative adjective, empathic. Em– is a respelling before the letter p of the Greek prefix en-, in.
Someone is pathetic who is obviously suffering – such a person may arouse sympathy or pity (or perhaps antipathy?) in you. Things as well as people can be pathetic.
Telepathic communication occurs when people can feel each other’s thoughts from a distance, when they have ESP. The noun is telepathy, which is built by combining pathos, feeling, with the prefix tele-, distance.
Can you match the words?
chronicity = condition of continual or repeated occurrence
anachronism = something, or someone, out of time
incongruous = out of place
chronology = calendar of events in order of occurrence
chronometer = timepiece; device that measures time very accurately
apathy = lack of feeling
synchronization = act of occurring, or of causing to occur, at the same time
pathology = disease; study of disease
sympathize = to share or understand another’s feelings
telepathy = ESP; communication from a distance
Do you understand the words?
Are these dates in chronological order 1492, 1941, 1586? No
Is pathology the study of healthy tissue? No
Is telepathic communication carried on by telephone? No
Does a sympathetic response show an understanding of another’s feelings? Yes
Is one antipathetic to things, ideas, or people one finds agreeable? No
Do apathetic people react strongly? No
Does an empathic response show identification with the feelings of another? Yes
Is a swimsuit incongruous dress at a formal ceremony? Yes
Is an anachronistic attitude up to date? No
Are synchronous movements out of time with one another? No
SESSION 13 – PUTTING TWO AND TWO TOGETHER
The Latin scio, to know, and sciens, knowing, are found in many English words.
Unconscionable and conscience use these roots plus the prefix con-, with, together.
Your conscience is your knowledge with a moral sense of right and wrong; if you are unconscionable, your conscience is not (un-) working, or you have no conscience. The noun form is unconscionableness or unconscionability.
Conscious, also from con– plus scio, is knowledge or awareness of one’s emotions or sensations, or of what is happening around one.
Science, from sciens, is systematized knowledge as opposed, for example, to belief, faith, intuition, or guesswork.
Add Latin omnis, all, to sciens, to construct omniscient, all-knowing, possessed of infinite knowledge. The noun is omniscience.
Add the prefix pre-, before, to sciens, to construct prescient – knowing about events before they occur, i.e., psychic, or possessed of unusual powers of prediction. The noun is prescience.
And, finally, add the negative prefix ne– to sciens to produce nescient, not knowing, or ignorant. Can you, by analogy with the previous two words, find the noun form of nescient?
|Teaser questions for the amateur etymologist
Notify and notice derive from the same root. Can you define these two words, again in the context of known? What do you supposed the verb suffix –fy of notify means? (Think also of simplify, clarify, liquefy, etc.)
Answer: To notify is, etymologically, to make known – notus plus –fy, a derivation of facio, to make.
–Fy, as a verb suffix, means to make. So simplify is to make simple, clarify, to make clear; liquefy, to make liquid; putrefy, to make (or become) rotten or putrid; stupefy, to make stupid, or dumb, with astonishment (note the –e preceding the suffix in liquefy, putrefy, stupefy); fortify, to make strong; rectify, to make right or correct; etc., etc.
You are familiar with the root chronos; the Greek word graphein means to write. Suppose you came across a device called a chronograph in your reading. Can you make an educated guess as to the meaning?
Answer: Chronograph is an instrument that measures and records short intervals of time.
Recognizing the root genesis in the verb generate, how would you define the word?
How about regenerate? What does the prefix re– mean?
Answer: To generate is to give birth to, figuratively, or to create or produce, as a turbine generates power, a person’s presence generates fear, etc. The noun is generation, which, in another context, also designates the people born and living about the same time.
To regenerate is to give birth to again, or to be born again. Some creatures can regenerate new limbs or parts if these are lost or cut off – or the limbs or parts regenerate.
Re– means, of course, again: or, in some words, as recede, regress, etc., back.
Recognizing the root omnis in omnipotent and omnipresent, can you define the words?
Recalling how we formed a noun from the adjective omniscient, write the noun forms of omnipotent and omnipresent.
Answer: Omnipotent – all-powerful; omnis plus potens, potentis, powerful. Omnipresent – present all over, or everywhere. Nouns: omnipotence, omnipresence.
Think of the negative prefix in anachronism; think next of the noun aphrodisiac. Can you construct a word for that which reduces or eliminates sexual desire?
Answer: Anaphrodisiac – both a noun and an adjective. Saltpetre is supposedly an anaphrodisiac; so, some people say, is a cold shower, which is highly doubtful.
Fool some of the people…
Glib is from an old English root that means slippery. Glib liars or glib talkers are smooth and slippery; they have ready answers and a persuasive air – but they fool only the most nescient, for their smoothness lacks sincerity and conviction.
The noun is glibness.
Herds and flocks
Egregious is from Latin grex, gregis, herd or flock. An egregious lie, mistake, etc., is so exceptionally bad that it stands out (e-, a shortened form of the prefix ex-, out) from the herd or flock of other bad things. The noun is egregiousness.
A person who enjoys companionship, who likes to be with the herd, is gregarious. The noun is gregariousness.
Add the prefix con-, with, together, to grex, gregis, to the verb congregate; add the prefix se-, apart, to build the verb segregate; add the prefix ad-, to, towards (ad– changes to ag– before a root starting with g-), to construct the verb aggregate.
When people gather together in a herd or flock, they congregate. The noun is congregation, one of the meanings of which is a religious ‘flock’.
Put people or things apart from the herd, and you segregate them. Can you construct the noun by adding the suitable noun suffix?
Bring individual items to or towards the herd or flock, and you aggregate them. What is the noun form of this verb? The verb aggregate also means to come together to or towards the herd, that is, to gather into a mass or whole, or by extension, to total or amount to. So aggregate, another noun form, pronounced AG’-ri-gǝt, is a group of individuals considered as a whole, as in the phrase ‘people’ in the aggregate…’
Can you match the words?
unconscionability = lack of conscience
omniscience = infinite knowledge
prescience = foreknowledge
nescient = knowing nothing
glibness = suspiciously smooth fluency
egregiousness = outstanding badness
gregarious = friendly; found of mixing with people
congregation = religious group; a massing together
segregation = exclusion from the herd; a setting apart
aggregate (n.) = total; mass; whole
Do you understand the words?
Is unconscionability one of the signs of the psychopath? Yes
Can anyone be truly omniscient? No
Does a prescient fear indicate some knowledge of the future? Yes
Is nescience a result of learning?
Does glibness make someone sound sincere and trustworthy? No
Is an egregious mistake a serious one? Yes
Do gregarious people enjoy parties? Yes
Do spectators congregate at sports events? Yes
Do we segregate hardened criminals from the rest of society? Yes
Is an aggregation of problem a whole mass of problems? Yes
©Dodgson KingsWay Sanctuary Church, 1973.