The Joy of Language Learning

A Guide in Need is a Guide Indeed

We have always been guided by someone. Be it our parents, teachers or seniors, having someone who can help you steer towards the correct path makes life a lot easier. But not everyone can boast of someone like that. The fortunate few who do should be eternally grateful. After all, it is the potter’s hand that guides and shapes the clay into useful structures.

The Latin word regere means to guide or keep straight. Quite a few words in modern English have been derived from it and almost all of them convey a sense of guidance and leadership.

The Latin word directus is the past participle of diregere (dis + regere). It should sound familiar as its modern equivalent is quite common – direct. When a comment is directed at someone, it means that it is guided towards them. When someone is directed not to do something, they have been guided not to do it. Directive, thus, came to mean a command. It can also be used in sentences like ‘He went directly to the end of the answer’ where it means that the person straight away or without a pause (or stopping) went to the end of the answer.

Someone who guides is called a director. Now, a person who is in-charge of an activity, department or organization is also called a director. The guidance a director provides is called direction.

Direct
Image Credit: Thomas Ashlock /Unsplash

When the prefix cor- is added to regere, we get coregere which means to correct. The word correct itself has been derived from the past participle of coregerecorrectus. It’s modern derivative, corrigible, refers to someone or something who is capable of being corrected. When it is prefixed with in-, the word incorrigible gives the opposite meaning. Thus, we can say that a hardened criminal might seem incorrigible.

Incorrigible
Image Credit: Maxim Hopman /Unsplash

Regere‘s derivatives do not end here but the one’s that remain deserve better attention. Thus you can read this to have a better idea of how a few royal terms have come into our dictionaries.


Table Summary:

PrefixWordSuffixMeaning
Direct(v.) Control operations or govern; guide towards something or someone
(adj.) without any intervention
Direct-iveAn order or command
Direct-orA person in-charge of an activity, department or organization.
Direct-tionA course along which something or someone moves; Management or guidance of someone or something
CorrigibleCapable of being corrected or rectified
In-CorrigibleA person or behavior that can’t be changed or reformed

Welcome to your Corrigible Quiz

What does ‘director’ mean in the given headline?
Director
Source: www.unicef.org
“Direction” in the given headline means:
Direction
Source: indianexpress.com
What does “corrigible” mean in the given excerpt?
Corrigible
Source: www.financialexpress.com
“Incorrigible” in the given headline means:
Incorrigible
Source: www.siasat.com
What does ‘directive’ mean in the given headline?
Directive
Source: www.thehindu.com
“Direct” in the given headline means:
Direct
Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com
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