In So Many Words: Out on a Limb

Sometimes I like to step back from blogs about educational reform and schooling for democracy to indulge in my other love: word origins. Words have always been special to me, even as a child. Early on, I attributed magical qualities to them, believing that locked within were mysterious insights which could help guide me through life.

What you are about to read is a work of etymology from a comic series I wrote in a previous life called, In So Many Words.

Call it just so much bunk, gibberish, babble, and hokum — but do enjoy!

out on a limb-comic by Larry Paros
from the comic series In So Many Words by Larry Paros

Text only version

Out on a Limb

The tree of knowledge has many branches. And if we can believe Alexander Pope, “…As the twig is bent, the tree’s inclined.”

It all began with a few seeds from the Latin semen, seminis. This gave Romans the seminarium — initially “a nursery for plants,” later, “a place for raising and training the young,” and the source of our seminars and seminaries. Many consider these settings to be seminal, “highly original and influential of future developments.” Others contend they are simply places where seeds are planted in the minds of the young.

Propaganda is similar, deriving from the Latin propago, “a slip or shoot for transplanting.” Originally, a botanist’s term for multiplying plants by taking slips, it came to mean the propagation of ideas, spread by the transplantation of brain-shoots.

“Crude, rude, and socially unattractive?” Nothing a little learning can’t cure. Take the Latin, e, “from,” combine it with rudis,”rude” and you become “one freed from rudeness.” Erudite, originally referred to the pruning of trees, lopping off dead or asymmetrical branches, the first attempts being the rudiments. A good education lops off the deadwood, leaving the erudite, those of us with no rough edges — as witness the humble, self-effacing nature of the erudite scholars at our universities.

You can find more comics by following this link to In So Many Words.

Published by Kvetch Press, a Division of Neurobics, Inc.

Author Larry Paros

Illustrations by Sam Zaninovich

All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced — mechanically, electronically, or by any other means, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system — without written permission from the publisher.

All violators will be towed or forced to repeat sixth grade.


Larry Paros has worked in the field of Education and Human services for more than 30 years both as a teacher and administrator. A pioneer in the creation of alternative settings, he is best known for his work with young people from varied ethnic and racial backgrounds in contexts of his own making. His book, Dancing on the Contradictions: Transforming our Schools, our Students, and Ourselves, will be available in September of 2019.

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