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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.