Sunday, August 10, 2008

cata (down)

I'm starting this week's series of articles with the prefix cata from the Greek word kata meaning down.

Here are some words that use this prefix:

catabolism (noun) - breakdown of complex molecules in living organisms to release energy; a destructive type of metabolism.

cataclysm (noun) - a violent, especially social or political upheaval or disaster. Cataclysm also means a great change, or a great flood or deluge.

catacomb (noun) - underground cemetery, especially Roman, with tunnels and recesses for tombs.

catalepsy (noun) - a trance or seizure with unconsciousness and rigidity of the body. The related adjective is cataleptic. The Greek word lepsis means seizure, so catalepsy is made from the words meaning to go down with a seizure.

catalogue (noun) - complete alphabetical or otherwise ordered list of items, usually with a description of each. This word uses the Greek word lego meaning choose, therefore a catalogue is the result of getting choices down.

Some words appear to use the cata prefix, but these are just coincidental.

catalyst (noun) is a substance that enables a chemical reaction to proceed usually at a faster rate or under different circumstances. However, the word is based on the Greek word katalysis meaning dissolution.

catamaran (noun) - a boat with parallel twin hulls. The word is from the Tamil word kattumaran which in turn is made from the words kattu (to tie) and maram (tree or wood).

1 comment:

avrinaschiller said...

catalyst is also made up of 'prefix' (which it doesn't seem to be in English, but actually is, just as cata-logue is prefix-root) so cata-lyst: the lyst part being from the Greek ly-o (ancient Greek probably LU-o) to loosen.