Show Me the Receipts and Other Idioms for 2020


For a dead language, Latin still has a significant impact on the way we speak in modern times. Many of the words you use every day can ultimately be traced back to Latin. You don’t need to become fluent in Latin, but understanding the prefixes and suffixes can give your vocabulary an immediate boost. Carpe diem, and let’s learn some Latin!

Desire

The cosmos have fascinated for millennia, as this word proves. Culled from the Latin word desiderat, it can be broken into de, meaning down, and sidus or sider, meaning star. Our ancestors must have had some strong desires when staring up at the sky.

Testify

Testify is inspired by the Latin word testis, a noun to describe a witness. But why that particular word? Because witnesses were asked to swear by their most prized possessions, or testiculus to tell the truth in a court of law.

Passion

There’s a big difference between simply liking something and being passionate about it. If you asked a Latin speaker, they’d tell you that passion equals pain. The root word pati meant to suffer, which makes the modern-day phrase “suffer for my art” more understandable when speaking of creative passions.

Mortgage

This word is attributed to Old French, but its roots are in the Latin word mortuus, meaning dead (in French, it’s mort). Gage is an Old French word for pledge. Taken literally, a loan for your home means an “until death” kind of deal. And you thought marriage was a commitment.

Candid

Candid comes from the Latin word candidus, meaning white. Roman politicians appearing in public wore pristine white robes to demonstrate the purity of their intent and messaging. Similarly, candidatus, meaning white robed, has evolved into candidate.

Genuine

Instead of making an appearance on the Maury show, Roman fathers would acknowledge paternity by placing a newborn on their genu, or knee, essentially declaring they were linked. The English word evolved from the anatomical sense to a broader definition of real or authentic.