complacent (kəm-plā-sənt) vs. complaisant (kəm-plā-sənt)

Let’s kick off our homonym theme with a pare pair of adjectives that I find to be particularly tricky. The words complacent and complaisant are homophones as well as heterographs. As you may recall, homophones are words that sound the same, but are defined differently, while heterographs have the same pronunciation but different spellings and meanings.

Both words are derived from the Latin infinitive complacere meaning to please. Complaisant means “a desire to please,” whereas complacent means “pleased with one’s self” or “self-satisfied,” and usually has a negative connotation. To make it more confusing, one of the definitions of complacent IS complaisant! However, if you use the word complacent to mean “willingness to please or oblige others”, linguists will probably label it incorrect.

Stay tuned for another tricky homonym pear pair soon!

 

 

 

-tara (tarə)

Hello everyone! As I study for the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee, there are certain words that naturally catch my attention. I am particularly intrigued by words that contain my name. I didn’t realize that tara could be found in so many words originating from different languages.

Tarantism (tarənˌtizəm) is an uncontrollable urge to dance, and tarantella (tarənˈtelə) is an Italian folk dance. Both these words are named after Taranto, a city in Italy.  A taradiddle (tarəˈdidəl) is a small fib. No one knows where this word originates from, but it was first used around 1796.

One of my favorite words is taramosalata (tärəˌmōsəˈlä-tə). This is a Greek fish spread and it originates from Greek. A tuatara (tüəˈtärə) is a large reptile commonly found in New Zealand. This word originates from Maori, a Polynesian language.

The word tarantara is an imitative word that mimics the sound of a bugle. This is actually a variation of the Latin word tantara (tanˈtarə).

Tara means star not only in Sanskrit, but also in many other Indian languages, such as Hindi and Telugu. So there you have it, a post all about my name! I hope you enjoyed this post and I hope you will indulge my narcissism especially since I recently celebrated my birthday!