do, act, drive

Quick Summary

The Latin root ag and its variant ig mean “do.” These roots are the word origins of a fair number of English vocabulary words, including agent, agile, litigate, and castigate. The roots ag and ig are easily recalled through the words agenda, or things to be “done,” and navigate, the “doing” or “driving” of a ship.

Ag and Ig "Do" It All

The Latin root ag and its variant ig mean “do.” This podcast’s agenda will be to navigate our way through these two roots. Let’s “do” it!

It seems like we always have things to be “done” which are on our daily agenda. Authors have so many things to “do” when writing that they often employ agents, who “do” many things for them to help them get their books published. Agents often “do” the work that agitates others, for those details can be troublesome in the “doing.” It takes a great deal of mental agility to be able to “do” the necessary things to get published, and so authors will often leave that sort of work to the agile agents, who skillfully work their way through all the things that need “doing,” from contacting publishers to working out contracts. Speaking of agents, the agents in your blood that cause it to coagulate or be “driven” together to “do” clotting are your platelets, little “doers” who keep a cut from bleeding for too long.

Sometimes the root ag changes to ig so that the word sounds better. For instance, let’s take the word “navigate.” It would sound silly if this word were spelled “navagate!” And of course, when a helmsman navigates a ship, he “does” the wheel, hence “driving” the ship in the desired direction. What other things are “done” that have this root ig in them? When someone litigates, she has a lawyer “do” a lawsuit against another person for the purpose of castigating another, hence “doing” a form of punishment. If someone were to litigate against you, you would probably feel that it was an exigent or urgent situation, that is, it must be attended to at once and be thoroughly “done.” And hopefully the lawyer who is defending you wouldn’t be ambiguous about the whole legal matter, thereby being “done” or “acted” on in “both” directions, that is, she would not come down on one side or the other, but rather leave room for multiple interpretations as to who was in the right. You wouldn’t want her “doing” that!

We’ve now “done” it all for both ag and ig, having “bagged” that etymological “gig”!

  1. agenda: things to be “done”
  2. agent: one who “does” things for another
  3. agitate: to “do” troublesome and irritating things to another
  4. agility: the ability to “do” difficult mental and physical things
  5. agile: of the ability to “do” difficult mental and physical things
  6. coagulate: to “do” or “drive” together
  7. navigate: to “do” therefore “drive” a ship
  8. litigate: to “do” a lawsuit
  9. castigate: to “do” punishment to
  10. exigent: of that which must be thoroughly “done” immediately
  11. ambiguous: of “doing” on both sides of an issue, and not clearly landing on one


  • coagulate

    If liquid coagulates, it becomes thick and solid.

  • agent

    An agent is someone who does something for you, usually some kind of business.

  • agency

    an administrative unit of government

  • agenda

    a temporally organized plan for matters to be attended to

  • agendum

    a list of matters to be taken up (as at a meeting)

  • agile

    moving quickly and lightly

  • agility

    the gracefulness of a person or animal that is quick and nimble

  • agitation

    a mental state of extreme emotional disturbance

  • agitator

    one who agitates

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