Ten more “ten”s

In my last linguistic activity, I enumerated ten English words that owe their meaning to the Latin tenere, “to have, hold, maintain.” While compiling that short (and inexhaustive) list, I ran into several words that I expected to have the tenere root but did not. Many of these words are derived from tendere, “to stretch,” which (like tenere) owes its etymology to the Indo-European root ten-.

So, as another exercise, I extend you ten more words with this root:

  1. Feeling a little tense these days? It may be all too obvious that you’re “stretched too thin” and need to “unwind.” (See how prevalent the idea of “stretching” is in our lexicon of stress?)
  2. If you are a little wound up, perhaps a trip to the great outdoors is in order. You could even pitch a tent – that is, a structure of material stretched over poles – if you don’t care to sleep under the stars.
  3. Perhaps you have find contention with something I’ve expressed; it is true, then, that you find the point debatable, which is the original sense (from “contend,” as in “I coulda been a contender!”).
  4. My ostensible purpose in making these lists is to inform about the common roots of many words we use – that is, the apparent purpose is such. This word gives us imagery of a display, that which is in stretched in front of an audience for viewing.
  5. I do hope you’re paying attention – that is, that you’re stretching forth your mind.
  6. If this is boring you, please note that it is not my intention – I certainly do not mean for anyone to be stretched toward such a state!
  7. The number seven here is portentious – it foreshadows (stretches forward, if you will) the end of the list.
  8. Any “stretching” schema would be incomplete without some more tangible usages. For instance, the anatomical word tendon gets its name from the fact that the tissue stretches to facilitate movement.
  9. Whatever my faults, I make no pretension about my shortcomings (for instance, this list was largely compiled using the Online Etymology Dictionary). This word gained its sense of making a false claim from the idea of professing or claiming generally, from pretend, “stretching before” (similar to ostensible).
  10. I tender you my final word of the list – that is, I stretch forth this word in the sense of offering it as the close of my list.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: