The Latin root word mort means “death.” So as to not be mortified the next time you encounter an English word with the word root mort in it, let’s beat that root to “death” by learning it cold!
When you study Greek mythology, you learn that the Olympian gods and goddesses were immortal, that is, “death” never affected them. This immortality, or “deathlessness,” is greatly desired among humans, who will go to great lengths to remain young. Despite what ordinary humans and even heroes do, they are nevertheless all subject to “death” for they are mortal. It takes a long time for most people to come to grips with mortality, or the fact that “death” will claim us all one day.
A mortician, or funeral director, gets ready for the ceremony accompanying a person’s “death” by preparing the “dead” body for burial. The mortician must deal with rigor mortis, or the stiffness that “death” brings to the limbs of a corpse which makes them difficult to move. Sometimes a dead body will require a postmortem, or examination after “death” to determine why someone died. The funeral home, or mortuary, is the temporary abiding place of the “dead” person until he is entombed or cremated.
One very famous work of literature, written by the English knight Sir Thomas Malory, was entitled Le Morte d’Arthur, or “death” of King Arthur, a comprehensive collection of stories about King Arthur, Queen Guinevere, and the Knights of the Round Table, which ends with Arthur being slain by Mordred at the Battle of Camlann. Talk about a book that gives away its ending!
Last, but not least, is that dreadful sounding term mortgage, or “dead pledge.” If a mortgagor, or the one who holds the “dead” pledge fails in his promise to pay off his house’s mortgage, the property then becomes forfeit, or “dead” to him, and he can no longer live there; on the other hand, the mortgage, which is a financial transaction, can also undergo a “death” or termination once the debt is paid off.
Now you no longer need be mortified, or “die” of embarrassment, when you don’t know the meaning of an English word with mort in it, for you will know that it has something to do with “death.”
- immortal: of not suffering “death”
- immortality: the condition of not suffering “death”
- mortal: of or pertaining to “death”
- mortality: the condition of suffering “death”
- mortician: a funeral director who directly deals with the “death” of people
- rigor mortis: the stiffness of “death”
- postmortem: after “death” examination
- mortuary: a funeral home to which those who have suffered “death” are brought
- Le Morte D’Arthur: The “Death” of Arthur
- mortgage: “dead” pledge
- mortgagor: one who holds a mortgage