Several nights ago, my wife and I were watching a show on television called “About A Boy.” (Not to be confused with the 2002 movie by the same name). As you may have deduced, it is a show about a boy. But there is more to it than that. It has some good moral messages, and deals with the importance of friendship – specifically between a socially challenged boy and a socially astute adult male, who is not the boy’s father. It is not a great show, but it is enjoyable.
During this particular episode, the teacher of the boy was talking about a discussion in his class regarding the Latin root suffix gress. In Latin this suffix means to step. It is also linked to the prefix root grad. Graduate – step up in education. Gradual – a slow methodical step. Gradate – steps in blending colors. I could go on, but I am more interested in gress.
I will apologize now for the political slant to this post. The uses of words using this suffix as it relates to happenings in Washington, DC are just too good to pass up.
Let’s start with the funniest – Congress. Con is a prefix that means “with.” So in essence the word congress means to step with, or possibly to walk together. See, I told you it was funny. Our congress is the antithesis of togetherness.
So, progress is probably not a possibility. Pro, meaning forward. Still funny, right? When is the last time you can remember that our congress has really moved forward in a meaningful way? Yeah, me too.
Perhaps we should just move on to word derivatives that actually describe our congress – regress and digress. Regress, of course, referring to moving backwards, and digress referring to stepping from one topic to another. That is, backward and lateral movement only. Now we’re getting somewhere in our understanding.
What about transgress? Oh yeah, now we’re talking. Transgress meaning to step across acceptable boundaries. Our congress folks seem to have this action down to an art. Some more than others, but most to some degree.
Unfortunately, none of our congress has a grasp of the most important word – egress. Meaning to exit. Once they are there, and have experienced the joyful feeling of power without responsibility, they ain’t leaving.
I suppose it is up to us to use our voting power to assert our wishes. This would require us to be aggressive, meaning to move forward in a threatening manner. If only this were possible.