More Words Derived from “Pend”

By Mark Nichol

A previous post lists words stemming from the Latin verb pendere, meaning “weigh,” and containing the root pend. This follow-up adds disguised words that have the same derivation.

A painter was originally a chain or rope that secures an anchor; the sense shifted to that of a line used to secure or tow a boat. Penchant, from an Old French verb, pencher, meaning “incline,” means “liking,” and its synonym propensity comes directly from Latin (propendere).

Poise, from pensum, the Latin noun form of pendere, refers to bearing, carriage, or composure, or to equilibrium; in scientific contexts, the word refers to a unit of viscosity. As a verb, it means “balance” or “brace.” A counterpoise is an equivalent opposing force or power, or a state of balance, or, as a verb, the word is synonymous with counterbalance.

The verb compensate, meaning “make up for” or “pay,” and its adjectival form compensatory and the noun compensation, are based on pendere, as is recompense, which in verb form means “give something in return for” or “pay for” and as a noun is synonymous with compensation. To dispense is to administer, distribute, or share out, or to exempt; dispensation is the act of doing so. “Dispense with,” however, means “do without” or “set aside.” A dispensary, meanwhile, is a location for giving out medicine or medical treatment.

The noun pension refers to money a company or government gives to a person who has retired after working for the entity. As a verb, it describes making this payment or dismissing an employee after awarding such a payment. Pension, or pensione (from the Italian word spelled thus) also describes room-and-board accommodations in Europe, or a boardinghouse or hotel that offers them; this use stems from the sense of payment for accommodations.

The adjective pensive means “thoughtful,” in the sense of “weighing” a thought; the adverbial form is pensively, and pensiveness is the quality of being in deep thought. An unexpectedly related word is pansy (by way of the Middle French word pensée, meaning “thought”), so called because the flower was a symbol of thought. Unfortunately, it also became a slur for an effeminate or gay male.

Another word not easily detected as being in the pendere family is avoirdupois, the name for the ounce/pound/ton system of weight measurement as well as a word describing heaviness or weight; it can also serve as an adjective when referring to the weight system. (Its Old French forebear, avoir de pois, means “goods of weight.”) Another foreign-born term descended from pendere is peso, the word for the basic currency of some former Spanish colonies, as well as a former Spanish coin.

Finally, span, which as a noun and a verb refers in various contexts to length, ultimately derives from pendere, as does the British English term spanner, which refers to what in American English is generally called an adjustable wrench (sometimes called a crescent wrench, after the Crescent tool brand).

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3 Responses to “More Words Derived from “Pend””

  • Dale A. Wood

    Did the women of the Pend d’Oreilles Indians have pendulous breasts? There is another “tie in”.
    For our Western Indians, we need to cover some more letters of the alphabet: Paiute & Pima.
    The only “G” that I can think of is Geronimo. One time I saw a cartoon about an American Indian paratrooper jumping out of the airplane – complete with his tomahawk – yelling “Cus-ter!”

  • venqax

    And there are the Pend d’Oreilles Indians (basically meaning something like “hanging from the ear”, or “earrings”) around Lake Pend d’Oreilles straddling Montana, Idaho, Washington and Canada. There!! That could have tied that whooooole thing together. Tenuously… but a could have!

  • Dale A. Wood

    Many people don’t think of the Philippines as a former Spanish colony, but it was, and they have pesos in the Philippines. That was not a colony like Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela, where Spanish people went to settle and build new lives, but rather is was just a place that the Spanish Empire ruled for a long time. Then the USA took over as the protector of the Philippines in 1899, and over the years, lots of Filipino silver pesos were minted in Philadelphia and San Francisco.
    We really out to have two different words for “colony”, and different pairs for “colonize” and “colonialism”:
    I. For the whole process in which Ancient Greeks went to live new lives in Italy and North Africa; in which Britons and Irishmen went to live in Virginia, New Brunswick, New England, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New London, Nova Scotia, New South Wales, New York, New Zealand, South Africa, etc.; in which Dutchmen (including Belgians) settled in New York, Delaware, South Africa, and the East and West Indies; in which Frenchmen settled in Quebec, Nova Scotia, Louisiana, Missouri, Algeria, and Tunisia; in which Portuguese went to settle in Brazil; and in which human beings will eventually settle on Mars.
    II. The kind of “colonialism” in which Europeans just took over places for the lust for power, lived there temporarily, and many times for all of the booty that the could get: the British in India, Pakistan, Burma, Ceylon, Nigeria, Egypt, etc.; the Belgians in Central Africa; the Italians in Somalia and Ethiopia; the French in Madagascar, India, Guinea, the Ivory Coast, etc.; the Spanish in the Philippines, North Africa, and Florida; the Germans in Kameroun, East Africa, and the Pacific Islands (It is not for nothing that there is a place called the “Bismarck Archipelago” in the South Pacific.); and the European Russian Empire gobbled up a VAST stretch of land all the way from the Ural Mountains and the Ural River to and including Alaska.
    In the USA, we are just fortunate that the Czar or Tsar decided to sell Alaska, Napoleon decided to sell the Louisiana Territory, and the Emperor of Spain decided to sell Florida (which back then included parts of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana).
    It is another issue that his land really belonged to people like the Aleuts, Apaches, Blackfeet, Comanches, Dakotas, Eskimos, Flatheads, Hopi, Kiowa, Navajos, Nez Pierce, Omahas, Seminoles, Shoshones, Sioux, Utes, Washoe, Yakima, and Zunis.

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