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In a Word -- All about English Vocabulary

Sol, Therm, Aqua, Mar

by John Keith

In a Word was originally written and recorded for the ESL Egg,
a Vancouver publication and website.

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August is the time of summer holidays, so In a Word looks at the root words for sun, heat, and water: sol, therm, and aqua/mare.

In Roman mythology, "Sol" is the name for the God of the Sun.  The solar system is the sun and all the planets and smaller celestial  bodies orbiting around it.  A solar panel, on a satellite in space, or on a rooftop on earth, contains many individual solar cells which change solar energy into electricity.  A solar eclipse happens when the moon moves in front of the sun, briefly blocking out its light and heat.  A solar year is 365 1/4 days long; leap year every fourth year keeps summer in July and August where it belongs.

The sun brings heat -- "therm", where we get thermometer, which measures (meter) heat,  thermostat, used to adjust the heat or air conditioning in a room, and thermos -- the bottle that keeps your coffee hot or, when you're on the beach, your cold drinks cold.

"Aqua" means water -- we see aquatic life as we walk along the beach, or visit the Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park. Aquamarine is the beautiful bluish green colour of seawater.   "Mar", of course, means sea.  A marina is a dock where boats are kept, mariner is a sailor, someone who "goes to sea", and a submarine travels under ("sub") the water.  Maritime means on or near the sea -- we have the Maritime Provinces on the east coast.

Ancient people thought the dark areas on the moon were seas and called them "mares".  These lava flows on the airless moon's surface are blasted by solar radiation by day and frozen in lunar cold at night.  Day or night, summer or winter, I much prefer Vancouver seas, sun and beaches.  Don't you?

Word List and Look-up

In a Word was originally written for the ESL Egg,
a Vancouver publication and website for ESL students.

© John Keith 2004


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