English is a funny language with some inherent structures which are beyond the understanding of even eminent linguists leave alone lay persons. There are plenty of usages which confound us but here I am going to talk about a simple word which I have almost always interpreted to have opposite of its actual meaning.

accurate   inaccurate

correct      incorrect

valuable   invaluable

In case of the first two words here, the prefix ‘in’ creates words which are antonyms but in case of  valuable it gets confusing. Invaluable doesn’t mean worthless-it means something which is so valuable that its cost can’t be estimated. Clearly when valuable joins the prefix ‘in’ its value magnifies positively instead of becoming negative as usual for other words. Arithmetic rhythm is at work here or so it seems.

P.S. : I am sure there are plenty of cases where prefix ‘in’ doesn’t make the antonym of the word it’s added to-another example is habitable and inhabitable which mean the same thing. In a way valuable and invaluable are antonyms–if valuable is taken in a negative sense-then something valuable has a limited value whereas invaluable is so precious that its value can’t be esteemed.



All Sundry and Water-balloons!

I’ve heard word Vim for a long time without ever being curious to know its meaning. The reason is its being used by a company which manufactures bars to clean kitchen-wares. I thought it might be just a fancy word without any meaning and etymologist in me didn’t get triggered even once-obviously I’ve not heard the phrase vim and vigor either.

All illustrations and references are courtesy of

Vim is an odd-looking word, but it stands for a simple concept: being ready for activity, especially vigorous activity. Someone who is always playing sports or going on trips is full of vim. Someone who lies on the couch watching TV all day shows very little vim. This word often appears in the phrase “vim and vigor.” If you have vim, you have energy and you’re ready to put that energy into all sorts of activities; you’re up for anything.

Continue reading “All Sundry and Water-balloons!”

Some Interesting Eponyms!

These eponyms have been taken from the list Some Obscure Eponyms on

Nicotine is most commonly known for occurring in tobacco, and therefore in cigarettes. In small amounts, nicotine is a stimulant, although in larger quantities it’s considered a poison and is even used in many insecticides. The earliest French root of the word was nicotiane, which comes from the Modern Latin botanical term for the tobacco plant, Nicotiana, named for Jean Nicot, the French ambassador who first brought tobacco from Brazil to France in 1561.Chauvinism means the belief that your country is superior to all others. Continue reading “Some Interesting Eponyms!”

Harry, Jaunty, Laze, Patois and Echelon


J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter is a very popular character and I didn’t know if Harry meant anything. It has been my hobby to ask meaning of names and it made some people uncomfortable at times because they didn’t really have any clue about theirs. I feel there are Hindi words Hairanee which means wonder and is used with Pareshaani which means trouble. Hairat is another word for surprise–I feel these words might be related to Harry.  Continue reading “Harry, Jaunty, Laze, Patois and Echelon”

The bottom line is sleeper in a stable!

Bottom Line

I’ve heard this phrase so often in conversation, perhaps used it myself, to know how it originated is interesting.

Originally, the bottom line of an audit said whether you were making money, losing money, or breaking even. It was the most important part. From there, this became a figure of speech for the most important part of anything. If someone is talking a long time explaining something, you might ask “What’s the bottom line?” That’s asking them to get to the point. The bottom line of a speech is the main argument or central idea. Bottom lines are important.

Continue reading “The bottom line is sleeper in a stable!”

Jodhpurs, Hokey and Wadi

spelled Jodhpur is the name of a city in Indian state of Rajasthan

Jodhpurs were originally loose and baggy around the hips and thighs, inspired by the Indian trousers called the churidar, or churidar pyjamas. Stretchy modern fabrics have resulted in tighter-fitting jodhpurs, often reinforced inside the knee and thigh. These pants are named after the Rajasthani Indian city of Jodhpur.

Note: Churidar are a type of Indian trousers but the word Churi/Chudi/Choodee is actually used for circular bangles of glass worn on wrists by ladies here–so maybe it stands for anything in that shape–dar suffix merely means ‘of that type or shape.’  Continue reading “Jodhpurs, Hokey and Wadi”

Palanquin and Chador

Etymology interests me and  is a wonderful site to which I subscribed to play vocabulary games some years ago. I receive emails regularly from them but seldom visit the site these days. Today I visited and played for a while and found two interesting terms. There are many words which we’ve been using since childhood in our day-to-day conversations, in dramas, movies and TV in Hindi which resemble some of the English words in sound and there was a time when I wasn’t aware of their etymologies so I didn’t know if they came to Hindi from English or it was the other way around. Now such words make for an interesting study. Take Bazaar for example-it has been used extensively colloquially and when I first read it in an English text I thought it was taken directly from Hindi. Similarly curry is the name of a dish made with yellowish gram flour( though pronounced cadhee here!) A long ago I started a feature here called Wordy Friday Nerdy in which I used to discuss some etymologies, words and ideas but discontinued it. Now if I continue to visit vocabulary site I would keep sharing some interesting finds. Continue reading “Palanquin and Chador”



A great mystery solved today by itself as I was watching a Bollywood film “Manjhi: The Mountain Man.” I am yet to finish watching the film as I easily get bored watching it and get busy with other things. It’s a typical Bollywood bioscope-drama so it’s a given. The film is based on real-life events. Dashrath Manjhi, the protagonist was actually a person living in Gehlore village of Gaya district in Bihar, India. He worked tirelessly for two decades to break a mountain(literally) to pave a way for villagers. It reduced the time taken by villagers to reach nearby city(and all facilities like medicines and such) considerably from 55 Kms to a mere 15 kms!

Well, what more can I say, man was a legend and I have not finished watching the film to review it. Navazul Siddiqui is a great actor who is playing Manjhi. The point of this article is the word Moosar. Continue reading “Moosar!”

Moola: The WordY FrYDaY NerdY!

What Are Gandanta Moola Signs?

Gandanta are conjunction constellations–they’re also known as Gandanta Moola nakshatras. You know there are 12 zodiac signs and there are 6 Gandanta Moola nakshatras. Mula literally means the root. The constellations are subtler than signs–so Gandanta Moola constellations are those portions of signs which fall at the conjunction point or say transition point between two signs. For example–there are two constellations between Scorpio and Sagittarius–Jyestha and Moola.


The easy way to remember where Gandanta signs is to realize that Gandanta Moola signs are just before fiery signs begin. Alternatively, Gandanta Moola constellations are immediately after water signs– I mean it’s not like what we feel it should be–that’s every Gandanta Moola sign should be between every two signs–no. It would be more accurate to state that Gandanta Moola constellations fall at the junctions of watery and fiery signs. So there are two Gandanta constellations each at all 3 watery-fiery sign conjunctions. Why is it so that only transition from water to fiery signs is considered a very sensitive zodiacal zone isn’t yet clear to me– but there are so many mysteries in the Vedic system.

Why at Water-Fire transition?

Because water-fire transition is most sensitive transition. Earth signs are closer to water signs in characteristics and fiery signs are closer to airy signs but water and fire are just opposites. Water suppresses fire. Water is sensitive and emotional whereas fire is independent and inspiring.

Here are the names and a few details Gandanta Moola Nakshatra: 

1. Revati and Ashwini: Revati is final nakshatra and comes in the sign Pisces (16:40 to 30:00 ) and Ashwini falls in Aries ( 00:00 to 13:19 ). Revati is ruled by Mercury and Ashwini is ruled by Ketu.

2. Ashlesha and Magha: Ashlesha is in the sign Cancer ( 16:40 to 30:00 ) and Magha is in Leo (00:00 to 13:19). Ashlesha is ruled by Mercury whereas Ketu rules Magha

3. Jyestha and Moola: Jyestha is in the sign Scorpio(16:40 to 30:00) while Moola is in the sign Sagittarius(00:00 to 13:19).

Some Observations on Moola!

1.  All of these Gandanta Moola signs fall at the water-air transition. ( Pisces—->Aries / Cancer—->Leo
/Scorpio—>Sagittarius)–transition, as you know is shaky–change discomfort–that’s why for those people who are born under these Gandanta Moola signs propitiation is done. Without some rituals it’s considered that children born under these constellation might be inauspicious for family and society and might be under the risk of dying in the early childhood themselves.

2. Gandanta Mula rulers are Ashlesha–Mercury, Magha–Ketu, Jyeshta–Mercury, Moola–Ketu, Revati–Mercury and Ashwini–Ketu. You can easily observe that 3 of these are ruled by the Mercury and the other 3 are ruled by the Ketu. Mercury is a benefic planet and Ketu is a malefic– most detached headless planet destructive for worldly affairs but good for spiritual things.

3. I’ve observed that people born in Ketu ruled Gandanta Moola constellations are most inspirational spiritual figures. The reason being–fire elements are inspirational and Ketu is very good for spirituality–so since Ketu ruled Gandanta constellations all fall under the fiery signs–they make for inspirational spiritual figures. 

A few spiritual figures born in Ketu ruled Moola Nakshatras: 

Paramhamsa Yogananda–Magha. 
Jiddu Krishnamurti–Mula. 
Jaggi Vasudev–Mula. 
Mystic poet Kabir–Mula. 
Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu—Magha. 
Dalai Lama–Magha/Mula.

4.  There are 3 Ketu based constellations–Ashwini( Aries–ruled by Mars), Magha(Leo–ruled by Sun), Mula( Sagittarius– ruled by Jupiter). In the Vedic system Jupiter is considered most benefic wisdom giving planet –and among Sun and Mars–Sun is more spiritual. Therefore, Ketu being common to all these three Moola nakshatras–their wisdom ingredient is determined by combined effect of Rashi/Nakshatra rulers–so for spirituality–Mula which has combined impact of Ketu/Jupiter is considered most powerful of all constellations.

5. It has also been observed that persons born in Moola face a lot of difficulties as children but if they survive they grow up to have charismatic personalities. Many saints in India were  born in Moola constellations and way too many in all 6 Gandanta Moola constellations.

6. You might also be aware that though all 6 of the constellations mentioned above are called Gandanta Moola–only the one falling in the sign Sagittarius-in the first portion is called Moola(root). It’s so because It’s the core of our galaxy Milky Way. You might be aware that during winter solstice the alignment happens between the core of Milky Way, Sun and Earth when Sun is in the sign Sagittarius( perhaps in the constellation Moola—I’ve not examined that thoroughly.)

Spiritual Figures in Moola!

Here I would consider both ascendant nakshatra and Moon Nakshtra as an influence.

1. Ammachi–the hugging saint of Kerala: Asc-Magha
2. Sri Aurobindo: Moon-Moola/Asc-Ashlesha
3. Dalai Lama–Tenzin Gyatso: Moon-Ashlesha/Asc-Magha
4. George Gurdjieff: Asc-Revati
5.  Jaggi Vasudev: Moon-Moola
6. Jiddu Krishnamurti: Moon-Moola
7. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi: Moon-Magha
8. Paramhamsa Yogananda: Moon-Magha/Asc-Magha
9. Pandit Shriram Sharma: Moon-Magha
10. Baba Ramdev: Moon-Ashlesha
11. Mother Anandmayi: Moon-Jyestha
12. Swami Sivananda: Asc-Ashlesha
13. Lord Ramchandra: Asc-Ashlesha

The Dark Nights of Soul!

Sun stays about one month in any sign in its transit. It spends about 3 months in total in all Gandanta Moola signs. A friend asked me to work out Gandanta Moola timings because one of her friends suggested that these periods are of substantial importance for people who are undergoing spiritual awakening. Such periods according to her might be important for what is known as Dark Night of the Soul. These periods might signify purging out of karmic toxins or say opening of knots known as Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra knots in Yogic literature. 

I quote this text about spiritual-psychic knots in the subtle body from Yogasara

Brahma Granthi: First knot. It is the lowest knot covering the area of muladhara & svadhisthana chakras. It is also known as perineal knot.

Vishnu Granthi: Second knot. It covers the area between manipura, anahata & vishuddhi chakras. It is also known as the navel knot.

Rudra Granthi: Third knot. It covers the areas of Ajna & Sahasrara chakras. It is also known as forehead knot.

If we want to find out these periods we can do so with the aid of panchangas and softwares which are used for Astrology. I would outline the Gandanta Moola periods for this year–they fall around the same time of year, more or less.

Sun entered into Ashlesha around August 3, 2015 and would be in Magha till September 1, 2015—so this one month’s period was  Gandanta Period.

Similarly the next Dark Night should be calculated to be: When Sun enters into Jyestha–Moola: That would be the period of about one month between Dec 3, 2015 to Dec 29, 2015.

Then next Gandanta would be when Sun enters into Revati–Ashvini–which would be the period between March 20, 2016 to April 27, 2016–about one month.

image sources: 1 2

Gerrymandering: The WordY FrYdaY NerdY!

Every now and then you come across some words with a very bizarre air about them. This peculiarity of appearance and at times that of meaning drives you to find out their etymologies. Perchance you may directly have an encounter with an anecdote about the origin of a word and it may so engross you that you learn the word and discuss about it with others as well. It happened with me because of the exquisite (no, hilarious!) etymology of this word. It means “To divide unfairly to one’s own advantage; especially by politicians”. This is one of those rare words which are bizarre looking as well as with a concrete etymology.


The first appearance of this singularly humorous and poignantly tart word was not in the present form ‘gerrymandering’ but rather in the form of a verb ‘gerrymander’, in 1812. It is actually a portmanteau of two words and this word in itself is a symbolic parody of political manipulation and corruption. The first part ‘Gerry’ comes from the name of Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry (1812) and the second bit comes from ‘salamander’ a fish. Gerry tried to manipulate the boundaries of some of his districts in order to help his party in upcoming senate election, but then, somebody observed that the new districts looked like a salamander and then they blended these two bits Gerry and –mander to create gerrymander. Newspapers came up with many cartoons where giant salamanders were mocking Gerry! Isn’t it an intriguing story worth being discussed with you?
Did you observe that Gerry is the dragon(salamander) in the picture, trying to devour the state!