March 23, 2013
senate (noun)
\SEN-ut\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: an official law-making group or council : as a : the supreme council of the ancient Roman republic and empire b : the second branch of a legislature of a nation, state, or province
How do you use it?
The full senate met to discuss the proposed amendment.
Are you a word wiz?

"Senate" is a word that has as its root a very common Latin word. It only has a few recognizable English cousins, though. Which words do you think are related to "senate"?

Though these cousins don't share meanings, "senate," "senior," and "senile" stem from the same root: the Latin word "senex," meaning "old man." The newest of these three English descendants of "senex" is "senile," and in the middle is "senior." "Senate" is the oldest. When it first came into English, it referred to a legislative council and was especially used of the Roman senate. That is because "senex" was the word from which the Roman senate's name ("senatus") was taken. In ancient Rome, only men could join the senate, and they were on the senate for their entire lives -- leading to lots of old men in the senate.
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