Five Distinctive Words


Cognoscenti (which happens to be a plural noun) refers to people who have an educated appreciation of, and informed knowledge about a specific subject, perhaps literature, astronomy, or the fine arts. Interestingly, the singular form, spelled with a final “e” rather than a final “i” has an entirely different meaning. cognoscente – a discerning expert or a connoisseur.

The plural form in common use today is derived from the Italian cognoscente which comes from the Latin verb form conoscere, to know. It is easy to see related words in English which share this root word: cognition, cognitive, cognizant, recognize, cogitation.

Although by training I am not an etymologist, I seem to have a sort of etymological intuition, so without looking it up I am going to suggest that the French connaitre, to know also derives from the Latin. Then we have the marvelous military term reconnaissance.


Hebetate is a transitive verb which means to be obtuse or make dull. The earliest documented use of this verb was in 1574 and the word appears to be derived from the Latin, hebetare – to make blunt, or Latin hebes - blunt.

A related word in English is hebetude, which means the condition or quality of being dull, lethargic, or enervated in a literary or poetic sense. A closely related word in terms of meaning is fatigue. The word is also occasionally used in the adjectival form, hebetudinous.


Rhizophagous which is an adjective is used to describe something which feeds on roots. The astute wort-meister will have already noticed two interesting roots in this word - rhizo (zhizome) and phagus (pharyngitis), an inflammation of the throat and the pharynx. When we examine the etymology of the word, this all makes perfect sense.

Rhiziphagus is derived from the Greek rhizo which means root, and the Greek phagous, which means to feed upon, thus the connection with the throat and the word pharyngitis. The earliest known use of the word is in 1832.


Impute is a transitive verb meaning to attribute, ascribe, or credit something. Transitive verbs are action verbs like paint, write, clean, jump, or throw; these verbs must have a direct object, something or someone who will receive the action of the verb.

Etymologically, impute comes from imputer (Old French) which came from the Latin verb imputare, which was a combination of (im) in and (putare) which is to assess, or to reckon. Scholars believe the original root for putare was the Indo-European word pau, meaning to cut or stroke. Related words are amputate. compute, dispute, count. Earliest known use was in 1480.


Sagacious, of course, refers to someone possessing and exercising keen judgment; someone venerated for having wisdom and calm judgment. An archaic sense indicated someone serious or solemn. There are some great related words, sagacity, for example, which was first used in the 15th century and is a noun meaning wisdom or keen understanding.

Additional synonyms for sagacity include perception, perceptivity, insight, discernment, and interestingly, the word sapience. Related words may include perspicacity, keenness, brilliance, acumen, judgment, prudence, and rationality.

Both words are derived from SAGE, coming from the Latin sagire , which is to perceive keenly. Sage is believed to have come from the Indo-European root sag- (to seek out), which is also the source of seek, ransack, ramshackle, forsake, and hegemony.

Dressing the Bones ~~~ Poetry

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Your Comments Are Much Appreciated 34 comments

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 2 years ago from the short journey

Neat. Words are such interesting fun and your graphically designed photos are thought provoking in the face of your choices in this post.

Right off the bat I have a funny story for you, perhaps coming from my current hebetude due to proofing an upcoming post. I spent a long few minutes looking at your first paragraph because I was reading etymologist as entomologist.

aethelthryth profile image

aethelthryth 2 years ago from American Southwest

Hebetate and hebetude sound like important words to remember on a day homeschooling is not going so well. Of course, I would also need to remember to use them sagaciously lest I impute laziness where there was only ignorance.

(Did I use them correctly? I've never been sure about "impute".)

JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 2 years ago from Deep South, USA

Hi, Theresa - Thanks for introducing me to a couple of new words. I must suffer from hemetude not to have encountered that one before! As a word enthusiast, I'm always glad to add to my vocabulary, and your hubs are invariably enjoyable.

I hope things are well with you and yours....Jaye

Phil Plasma profile image

Phil Plasma 2 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

Of your list I would say only 'sagacious' can be found within my vernacular, however, I can see the use of 'impute' and am considering adding it. Great hub with some interesting word history. Thanks for sharing!

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

aethelthryth - You did an outstanding job! I am impressed (and amused). Sorry homeschooling is not going well. I know it is always discouraging to me when my classes don't go as I had hoped. Blessings! Theresa

travmaj profile image

travmaj 2 years ago from australia

A fine selection of words and the historical connections. I connect with hebetate at present (I'm in procrastination mode). Love impute and sagacious, they roll of the tongue. Not sure I could fit cognoscenti or rhizophagous into a conversation but who knows! Love the images...

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hello Jaye - New words are wonderful.....and old words are wonderful. Truth is, we just love language. I never tire of seeing how words connect and piecing together their meaning. :) All is well here, although it has gotten unseasonably cold 3-4 times already. Our cold spell is usually the end of January/beginning of February. Take care. Blessings! Theresa

Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Delightful, interesting and useful. Those I knew are now known better and those I did not will be incorporated in the future. Great pick of words and a real fine layout, thanks.

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 2 years ago from TEXAS

I love this: the whole word-probing mindset, introduction to a couple of unfamiliar words, and the glorious stained glass illustrations! I am bookmarking the hub so I won't forget it! Don't want to lose any of it! Thanks, Theresa!

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

with the exception of impute: In Finance it's assign ( a value ) and in theology ascribe (righteousness, guilt. ) the other words escape.. hell escape me... never even seen it used... but thank you LOL learn something new I did....

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hey Phil - Of all five words, sagacious is my favorite and the one we see most commonly in books - sage, sagacity, etc. It's a good one to know. :) Thanks for reading and commenting. Blessings.

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hello travmaj - Procrastination mode strikes all of us from time to time. :) O f course you could use the word cognoscenti. :) When it comes to words and language, you and I are the cognoscenti. :) Thanks for reading and your great comments. Blessings.

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Eric - I love to interact with people who love language and words as much as I do. Thanks for commenting on the layout - I rather like it myself. :) Blessings. Theresa

jhamann profile image

jhamann 2 years ago from Reno NV

I badly want a copy of "Dressing the Bones." Is this your collected works? I enjoyed my new vocabulary. Jamie

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Nellieanna - Thank you for your kind and encouraging words. It is such a pleasure, so gratifying to put something together and know that it speaks to others as well. Ans isn't the stained glass incredible?! I just fall in love with it every time I see it. Blessings. Theresa

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Jaimie - We always enjoy our expanding vocabulary don't we? Some of the best things in life really, really are free, aren't they? :)

Dressing the Bones (AMAZON) is my collected poems from the past two and a half years. (I started writing poems again after a 35 year hiatus, after my father died). There is also one story in the book, of something that happened to my family when my boys were young.

I also decided to add photographs -- family and nature -- to the book. The photographs were in color and taken by several different family members. I am terrible at trying to manipulate images with software, but I decided that by going to a gray-scale, I could use the pictures to pull the book together and provide some continuity. And of course, the front cover is an oil painting by my Polish grandmother.

If you do get it and find time to read it, I would love to know your honest impressions. Family and close friends aren't terribly reliable; they may not know what good poetry is, or they think its all wonderful simply because they love you. :)

Blessings as we approach Christmas. :) Theresa

Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

Wow, I just learnt some new words Theresa..cognoscenti and hebetate. This was very interesting. Love the images as well.

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi Jodah - Glad you found it interesting...and you need to know the cognoscenti, because I think you are probably one of the,...a knower, a constant learner. :) Blessings! Theresa

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

So we hubbers are Cognoscenti - cool. I like that word so much better. Cognoscenti Pages! I vote YES.

Love the art, as always.

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Kathleen, yes we are. :) Well this is a bit stingy-spirited, but some of us are and some of us.... Well you know I have no problem with people who are on HP to generate some additional income. I hope they are very successful. But my heart as you know, looks most fondly on those who are here because they love language, art, and learning. :)

tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

Theresa, thank you! I can see that you've done this especially for me. ;) Great hub, interesting words and some spectacular images. I'm saving this one for later. Happy New Year to you.

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ignugent17 2 years ago

Thanks for sharing new words.

Voted up, useful and interesting.

shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 2 years ago from Texas

Interesting! Thank you for sharing this.

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Just for you, Jo! Anytime! So glad you like the images and are looking forward to reading it :) Happy New Year and Blessings! Theresa

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Meldz - You are so very welcome. I just love learning new words and making connections myself, so I am always pleased if someone else enjoys it. :) Have a Blessed New Year.

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi shanmarie. Glad you found this interesting...I do love words. :) I hope you had a Merry Christmas and that a Blessed new Year is before you. :) Theresa

Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 2 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

&phdast7 Thank you very much for sharing a very interesting and useful hub. I had a general idea about the meanings of cognoscenti, impute, and sagacious, but had not idea of the meanings of hebetate and rhizophagous. Voted up and sharing with HP followers.

The Examiner-1 profile image

The Examiner-1 2 years ago

That was interesting Theresa since I am a bit of entymologist myself. I voted this up, shared and Tweeted it.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hello Paul - Hope all is well where you are. Thank you for commenting. I am glad you liked the word hub - language gives me so much pleasure. Take care. Theresa

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hello Kevin - Always a pleasure to meet another etymologist, Exploring language is such a pleasure. Take care. Theresa

tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 19 months ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

Theresa, I'm printing this one off to add to my collection. An interesting and very useful hub. Words and their origins can be very fascinating, great job. Best wishes. Jo

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 19 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi Jo - So glad you enjoyed it. I can't imagine that I will ever tire of words, their meanings, and their connections. :) Hope you are having a lovely weekend. Theresa

suzettenaples 11 months ago

Fascinating read, Theresa. I love words and the study of them. These are 5 interesting words and not used everyday in our language. How did you come about choosing these particular words? I also love the images to go along with this article. So appropriate.

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 11 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi Suzette - Thank you for your kind comments. I have enjoyed words for such a long time and it began with my mother's love of language. About five years ago somebody gave me one of those sit in your desk, "word a day" calendars. At the end of the year I couldn't bear to throw it away, so I pulled out my favorite words and saved them.... saved them not knowing one day I would join HP and use some of them to build a hub. :)

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