Down through the centuries, human beings have wondered about the purpose of life. Many who were thought to be wise or otherwise have proposed answers, and some have tried to impose them. In either case, there was always someone to oppose them.
Down through the centuries, human beings have wondered about the purpose of life.
Many who were thought to be wise or otherwise have proposed answers, and some have tried to impose them. In either case, there was always someone to oppose them.
Among those who would lead others astray, there were many who were exposed. Some of them were deposed, and others were sent prematurely to their final repose.
That’s just the way of things, I suppose.
This rambling bit of exposition is meant to introduce additional members of the “pose” family, and an imposing group it is. I included eight of them above, some of which I’ll examine this week — although not in the same order. That’s right, they’ve been transposed (and that makes nine).
“Depose.” The verb has two basic meanings, to oust from a position of authority or power and, as a legal term, “to state or testify under oath but out of court.”
However, way back in its evolution, its ancestor that meant “to lie down” became “confused in sense and form,” as Webster’s puts it, with the Latin “deponere,” meaning “to lay down, lay aside.”
Apparently “lie” and “lay” have always caused such problems.
That sense of “to put down” from “deponere” led to “deposit.” And to complete the mixture, a “deposition” can be the result of “deposing” or “depositing.”
Two places to make or hold deposits are a “depot,” which originally meant “a storehouse; warehouse,” and a “depository,” a word that entered the lexicon of infamy on Nov. 22, 1963, thanks to Lee Harvey Oswald.
“Repose.” This word is mostly about peacefulness, calm and rest, including the ultimate example, death.
But it, too, can convey “placing” — to repose trust or power, for example, in someone.
And there’s the uncommon “reposit,” meaning “to deposit or store, as for safekeeping.” This sense gives us “repository,” which is essentially the same as “depository,” but without the baggage from Dallas.
A person also can be a “repository” — of information, for instance — or when acting as a confidant.
“Impose.” This generally involves a placing or setting upon people against their will. To “impose on” (or “upon”), for example, is “to take advantage of; put to some trouble or use unfairly for one’s own benefit” or “to cheat or defraud.”
Among the definitions of “imposition” are the phrases “the forcing of oneself,” “taking advantage of friendship,” “an unjust burden” and “a deception; fraud.”
And yes, this is where “impostor” (also spelled “imposter”) comes from.
“Oppose.” There are positive aspects to “opposition.” There’s the British parliamentary concept of the “loyal opposition,” meaning essentially that a group that’s out of power can oppose the ideas of the group in power without being considered treasonous.
“Opponent,” as Webster’s points out, is “an unemotional word,” especially when compared with similar terms of opposition: “antagonist,” “adversary,” “enemy” and “foe.”
We have the “opposable thumb,” which for the most part has been a distinct advantage for our species. And then there’s the “opposite sex.” And as everyone knows, opposites attract.
“Suppose.” To suppose is “to assume to be true” or “to believe, think, guess.”
One special use is “to expect or obligate,” which always appears in the passive: “You were supposed to call him back right away.” The “d” is often incorrectly omitted.
Also a member of the “suppose” clan is “suppository,” from the Latin for “placed underneath.”
This “small piece of medicated substance” is taken internally but not orally — indeed, it’s placed underneath, which is why I saved it for the bottom of this column.
Contact Barry Wood at firstname.lastname@example.org or read his blog at blogs.e-rockford.com/woodonwords/.