Latin #5

Latin root #5: TERRA

Meaning: land, earth


  1. Terra cotta (n) (cocta = cooked or baked): cooked earth, a ceramic made of clay

I’ve been sitting here staring at my computer for a full 12 minutes trying to think of something funny, interesting, profound, or even just plain stupid to say about terra cotta, and I just can’t do it. Frankly, I’m rarely this ambivalent or uninspired about anything.

2.   Extraterrestrial (adj or n) (extra- = outside of): outside of the earth

My middle child has told me twice now that he definitely does not believe that extraterrestrial creatures are real. Both times, he’s followed that announcement with this question: “Do you think most of them are green?”

3.  Mediterranean Sea (n) (medi = middle): the sea in the middle of land, a specific sea bordering parts of Europe, Asia and Africa

The parts of the Mediterranean Sea that I have seen are absolutely breathtaking. However, the swimwear, or the lack thereof by many of the occupants of the shoreline is a little distracting, at least for this small-town Carolina girl.

4.  Subterranean (adj) (sub- = below, under): under the earth’s surface

My kids dream of building a subterranean city underneath the sand on the beach. This is not surprising, as they are the offspring of a woman who once not only talked about but actually tried to dig a hole to China in her mother’s strawberry patch. I actually thought it was all about tenacity and digging on a curve so as to avoid being burned by the earth’s core. See, this is why I never taught science.

5 Comment

  1. Monica says: Reply

    Love this! We are learning Latin with our homeschool coop and I love how you present it. I need to be more creative as we practice this summer. Please feel free to keep posting Latin! 🙂

    1. Island Mom says: Reply

      Thanks. I homeschooled our kids last year and unfortunately didn’t think about Latin or etymology until about 2 weeks before the end of the school year. I wish I had done more with it when I had the chance. Good for you both for doing Latin and for practicing during the summer. I’m impressed!

  2. We also study Latin/Greek root words over the summer, culminating in a Spelling Bee each Friday. You are far more creative than I in your explanations. Would you mind doing 5-8 roots each week so that I can just plagiarize your creativity with my boys? Only kidding. Kind of.

    I didn’t realize that you homeschooled last year. Homeschooling has been nagging at me since my oldest started school, but thus far I’ve been too big of a wuss to take the plunge.

    1. Wow, now I feel like such a slacker. Both my boys have been so overwhelmed by homework this year (Am I the only one out there taken aback by daily homework in kindergarten?) that I finally announced that we will be doing no academic work (at least the kind they can identify as such) this summer. Now that’s starting to sound negligent on my part.

      Yes, homeschooling can be a great experience, but it’s a huge undertaking, especially with multiple kids. I love the control you have over content as a parent and the opportunity to individualize education in a way that’s difficult to impossible with 20-30 students in a classroom. We did it mainly because my husband was going to be on the road a great deal that year, and it was a way to keep the family together as much as possible. Also, when we threw caution to the wind, so to speak, and left everything to move to the island, it really started changing my way of thinking on a lot of things and has made me consider, try and really learn to appreciate many things I never would have before this whole experience. Now, I really understand the appeal of homeschooling and why it’s a good fit for many families.

  3. Paul says: Reply

    Your comment on digging a hole to China brought back memories of trying the same thing as a child. Digging through shale filled New York soil proved a challenge. Only decades later did I reach that destination but missed seeing the terra cotta warriors.

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