The Joy of Language Learning

Endless Experiments

Greek peira meant trial or attempt, from which empeiria took on the sense of experience, like the sensation of touch, smell, feel, etc. Peiran meant to attempt or attack. Empeiria later evolved into empirical (based on experiment or self-experience rather than on theory). An empirical formula is a chemical formula showing the simplest ratio of elements in a compound rather than the total number of atoms in the molecule CH2O is the empirical formula for glucose.

Image Credits: The Organic Chemistry Tutor/ Youtube.

Peiran became the source of pirates and piracy. Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence by ship or boat-borne attackers upon another ship or a coastal area, typically intending to steal cargo and other valuable goods. Online piracy is downloading and distributing copyrighted content digitally without permission.

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In Latin experiri, it means to try. Thus, an expert has tried something many times over, and expertise is what they develop after such trials. Sachin Tendulkar is a cricket expert. The antonym of expert is malapert which means boldly disrespectful.

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As experimentation very often involves risks, Latin periculum earlier meant both experiments as well as risk. Later it became the root of peril, which we now see in news headlines such as ‘State government in peril (risk, danger) after a rebellion by party members’ or how pedestrians come out on the road and put the commuters in peril

Image Credits:  Soumya Pillai/Hindustan Times

Perilous (full of risks), as in, no one was up for the perilous task. A similar word that is now rarely and jokingly used is parlous (as in, my financial health is in a parlous state). Many Indians resort to out-of-pocket spending on private treatment due to the parlous condition of the country’s state healthcare system. India currently spends just 1.28 percent of its gross domestic product on public health

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Tabular Summary:

 empirical  originating in or based on observation or experience
 pirate a person who attacks and robs ships at sea.
 piracy use or reproduce (another’s work) for profit without permission, usually in infringement of patent or copyright.
expert A person who is very knowledgeable about or skillful in a particular area.
expertiseexpert skill or knowledge in a specific field.
malapert An impudent person.
 peril serious and immediate danger
 perilousfull of danger or risk
 parlous full of danger or uncertainty


Welcome to your Endless Experiments quiz.

Email ID
1) (Mccourier) Here ‘empirical’ means:

2) (The Africa Report) Here ‘piracy’ is:

3) (Livemint) Here ‘expert’ means:

4) ( Here ‘perilous’ means:

5) (chinadialogueocean) Here ‘parlous’ means:


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