Hang On and Weigh In!


Quick Summary

The Latin root word pend and its variant pens both mean “hang” or “weigh.” These roots are the word origin of many English vocabulary words, including pend, pendant, suspense, and expensive. An easy way to remember these different meanings is that a pendant “hangs” from your neck, whereas you have to “weigh” out a lot of money if something is expensive.

The Latin root word pend means “hang,” and its variant pens means “hang” or most often “weigh.”

When you are dependent upon another person, for example, you “hang” from him. Of course, when you are completely independent, you do not “hang” from anyone or anything! When a patent is pending, it is “hanging” in limbo until the patent office decides on whether to grant the patent or not. A pendant “hangs” from a chain, whereas a pendulum hangs from a long thin rope that allows the weight to swing back and forth. The pendulum therefore is suspended from the rope, or “hangs” from it. And when you expend a lot of effort? You have “hung” it out there!

The most common variant spelling of pend is pens, which can mean “hang,” as in the word suspense, for instance, which etymologically refers to “hanging” onto the edge of your seat during a thrilling movie. Most often, however, pens has the sense “weigh,” since when you originally “weighed” something you had to “hang” it upon scale. When you have a large expense, for instance, you have to “weigh” out a lot of money to pay for it. Something expensive would require a large “weighing” out of funds. When you receive a large compensation for a job you have done, it is a “weighing” together of money that is the agreed upon equivalent of the work you performed. And that pill dispenser you own? It “weighs” out just the right amount of medicine that you need per day.

“Hang” on to the root pend, “weigh” carefully the root pens in your mind, and you will no longer be so dependent upon a dictionary, nor needlessly worried or pensive when you come across a new word!

  1. dependent: ‘hang’ from
  2. independent: not ‘hanging’ from
  3. pending: ‘hanging’
  4. pendant: jewelry item which ‘hangs’
  5. pendulum: swinging weight that ‘hangs’ from a rope
  6. suspend: ‘hang’
  7. suspense: condition of ‘hanging’
  8. expense: a ‘weighing’ out
  9. expensive: of a ‘weighing’ out a lot
  10. compensation: the act of ‘weighing’ together
  11. dispenser: that which ‘weighs’ out
  12. pensive: of a ‘weighing’ heavily on one’s mind

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