proper, fitting, one's own

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.

A Fitting Prop, a Prop of One's Own

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


  • expropriate

    If you expropriate something, you take it away for your own use although it does not belong to you; governments frequently expropriate private land to use for public purposes.

  • apropos

    When something is apropos, it is fitting to the moment or occasion.

  • appropriate

    If you appropriate something that does not belong to you, you take it for yourself without the right to do so.

  • malapropism

    A malapropism is an unintentional and usually humorous mistake you make when you use a word that sounds similar to the word you actually intended to use but means something completely different.

  • propriety

    Propriety is behaving in a socially acceptable and appropriate way.

  • appropriateness

    appropriate conduct

  • appropriation

    money set aside (as by a legislature) for a specific purpose

  • expropriation

    taking out of an owner's hands (especially taking property by public authority)

  • improper

    not suitable or right or appropriate

  • impropriety

    an improper demeanor

  • inappropriate

    not suitable for a particular occasion etc

  • misappropriate

    appropriate (as property entrusted to one's care) fraudulently to one's own use

  • proper

    marked by suitability or rightness or appropriateness

  • property

    something owned

  • proprietary

    protected by trademark or patent or copyright

  • proprietor

    (law) someone who owns (is legal possessor of) a business

  • proprietorship

    an unincorporated business owned by a single person who is responsible for its liabilities and entitled to its profits

  • proprietress

    a woman proprietor

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