Pedal to the Podiatrist


Quick Summary

The Latin root word ped and its Greek counterpart pod both mean “foot.” These roots are the word origin of many English vocabulary words, including pedal centipede, podium, and podiatrist. Humans, for instance, are bipedal because they walk on two “feet,” whereas a tripod is a stand for a camera that has three “feet.”

Sometimes English imports words from both Greek and Latin that mean the same thing. This has happened in the case of the Latin root word ped and the Greek root word pod, which both mean “foot.”

Let’s first take a look at the Latin root word ped: “foot.” A pedal on a bike is for the “foot” to push on. A pedometer measures the number of “feet” that you have walked. Pedestrians walk around on their “feet.”

Speaking of walking, since humans walk on two “feet,” we are known as bipeds. Some animals are similarly classified because of the number of feet that they have. Cattle, dogs, horses, sheep and the like are quadrupeds, etymologically meaning four “feet.” A centipede, likewise, is an insect with 100 “feet;” some centipedes actually do possess 100 “feet!” A millipede, on the other hand, supposedly has a thousand “feet.” In point of fact, millipedes usually have no more than 400 legs, although some of the very largest can have up to 750.

Now let’s take a look at the Greek root word pod, which also means “foot.” A tripod, for instance, is a stand with three “feet” that holds a camera steady. A podium is a stand for lecturers that possesses one “foot” that holds it up.

Ever wonder who is on the exact opposite side of the world that you are? That person would be at the antipodes of where you are, their “feet” placed exactly opposite yours.

A podiatrist is a “foot” doctor. Imagine a podiatrist having to take care of a sauropod or lizard “foot,” those colossal dinosaurs such as the brachiosaurus or apatosaurus! And imagine if you only had a head and feet, and nothing in-between; you would then be a cephalopod or “head foot,” such as an octopus or squid.

No need now to take a expedition to your dictionary the next time you come across words with ped and pod in them; now you can just put up your “feet” and smile!

  1. pedal: part of a bike for the ‘foot’
  2. pedometer: instrument which measures the ‘feet’ that someone walks
  3. pedestrian: one who walks around on her ‘feet’
  4. biped: animal which walks on two ‘feet’
  5. quadruped: animal which walks on four ‘feet’
  6. centipede: insect which has around 100 ‘feet’
  7. millipede: insect that etymologically has 1000 ‘feet’
  8. tripod: stand with three ‘feet’
  9. podium: stand with one ‘foot’
  10. antipodes: place on the Earth opposite one’s own ‘feet’
  11. podiatrist: ‘foot’ doctor
  12. sauropod: lizard-‘footed’ dinosaur
  13. expedition: a freeing of the ‘feet’ to travel

Differentiated vocabulary for your students is just a click away.