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Mar 31, 2014
This week's theme
Words from royalty

This week's words
kingdom come
royal road

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with Anu Garg

A school principal may not behave in an autocratic manner, but he or she is a prince or princess, etymologically speaking. Both have descended from the same parents: Latin prime (first) + capere (to take).

The antiquated custom of royalty, with inherited offices, divine rights, and privy purses is thankfully becoming rare. Yet they live on in the language. Things royal are big, such as a royal pain. In chemistry, we have aqua regia (literally, royal water), a highly corrosive liquid. A king's ransom is a very large sum of money. A royalty was a right granted by a king to a person or corporation, especially the right to mine an area. From there the term extended to payments made to authors, composers, etc.

This week we'll regale you with five other words tracing their lineage to royalty.

PS: If you see someone confusing the words principal and principle, cut them a little slack. The two words differ by only a letter and have the same (princely) heritage.



noun: The period between the end of a reign and the beginning of the next; a time when there is no ruler.

From Latin, from inter- (between) + regnum (reign). Ultimately from the Indo-European reg- (to move in a straight line, lead, or rule), which also gave us regime, direct, rectangle, erect, rectum, alert, source, surge, recto, regular, prorogue, arrogate, abrogate, regent, and supererogatory. Earliest documented use: 1579.

"Janet Yellen was acting chairwoman during the weekend interregnum."
Binyamin Appelbaum; Bernanke Starts New Role as Yellen Takes Fed Helm; The New York Times; Feb 3, 2014.

See more usage examples of interregnum in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

Whenever anyone has offended me, I try to raise my soul so high that the offense cannot reach it. -Rene Descartes, philosopher and mathematician (1596-1650)

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