Apr 6, 2011

In the Office of Readings there is a word that is not so common in Latin: “oppilare”. The sentence is “omnis iniquitas oppilabit os suum” (all wickedness shall block up its mouth).
What is this “oppilare”?
It comes from “ob” (against as in “ob-struct”) and “pilare”. (Ob-pilare becomes oppilare.)
“Pilare” is derived from “pila” which is a kind of a column or pilar, used either to support something or to obstruct something, for example by throwing columns into water to plug up a canal, from which we have the English word “pile”.
But here is more: “Pila” is a “mortar” - a small bowl for crushing seeds or what have you. Mortars were used in antiquity before the invention of the mill. The name is derived from the verb “pinsare” (to crush with a pestle).
Therefore, as stated above “pila, pilae” is a square column, similar in form to the pestle, but larger.
“Pila, pilae” is also a ball (because some of the balls in antiquity were filled with hair “pilus”). And a small ball is called “pilula” from which we have the English “pill”.
Unrelated, except that it sounds similar is the word “pilum, pili (n)” or a javelin. “Pilatus” is one armed with a javelin.
Also “pilus, pili (m)” as mentioned above is hair from which we also have “capilli” - a combination of “caput” and “pili” (head hair).
What’s the point of all this? Many Latin words are related in various ways and it is useful to explore them to find out if something doesn’t sound familiar. If it does sound familiar, you will not need to look them up in a dictionary and you will not forget them easily.

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