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Fun with Word Stems: Killing Mattresses

Written by Nick


Click here to see today's comic.


In Fun with Word Stems, we take a look at difficult words and discover their meanings by using word stems! Let’s get started!


In today’s comic, Goat mentions the word matricide when talking to Pig, stops and says, “Sorry… Do you know what that (matricide) is?” Pig, in these comics, is usually not very smart. In the 2nd panel, we see Pig shooting a mattress. 


The joke here makes no sense unless you understand what the word matricide means. What does it mean?


Well, similar to Japanese, where kanji come together to make words (夜night + 空sky = 夜空night-time sky), many English words are made out of word stems.  Word stems come together together just like kanji to make words. Matricide has two word stems: MATRI and CIDE.


Cide comes from Latin and means to kill/killer. There are lots of words that use CIDE.


homoCIDE: to kill someone

suiCIDE: to kill yourself

pestiCIDE: something used to kill unwanted plants or animals



Now that you know that CIDE means to kill, look again at the 2nd panel. Pig is shooting a mattress. He is killing the mattress! Matricide must mean to kill a mattress! Right? Wrong.


In the 3rd panel, Goat says, “No.” This means that pig has made a mistake. Pig knows that CIDE means to kill something. He thought it meant to kill a mattress. Mattress + Cide = Matricide! But Pig is wrong.


So, what does matricide mean?


Homework Time!


Go to www.learnthat.org/pages/view/roots. Here you can see almost all of the word stems that we use in English! Look up matri. Once you have done that, you can probably guess what matricide means.


Bonus HW: what about pesticide, suicide, and homocide? What do pesti, sui, and homo mean?


Post your answers in our blog or let your teacher know! That’s all for this week. Stay warm and use a lot of virucide so you don’t get sick!

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