We the People: Demos

Work your way through these lists focused on Greek and Latin roots representing people and the social units they form: genus, ethnos, demos, populus, socius, civis, anthropos

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. democracy
    a political system in which power lies in a body of citizens
    The Constitution, conservatives frequently assert, has provided us with a form of government superior to those of other nations, even other democracies.Washington Post (Sep 30, 2015)
    demos (common people) + kratos (rule, strength) + y (suffix forming abstract or collective nouns)
    The larger article (entitled "Overcoming America's political dysfunction") does not agree with the example sentence. Rather, it argues that the Constitution's division of powers makes changes in public policies nearly impossible, especially since the President and members of Congress are elected at different times by different sets of voters from different parties.
  2. democratic
    representing or appealing to the people at large
    These were elite clothes at their most democratic, which is the sort of oxymoron only the fashion world can provide.New York Times (Sep 18, 2015)
    demos (common people) + kratos (rule, strength) + ic (suffix forming adjectives)
    From the Latin "eligere" which means "choose, pick out" and related to "election," "elite" sounds like it should represent democratic values, but as the example sentence suggests, it actually is the opposite. The clothes might be democratic because they cover many different styles, but they are elite because they're from a brand-name designer whose one-night show was attended by rich celebrities.
  3. democratize
    introduce democratic reforms; of nations
    The nineties tech boom democratized computer ownership and we all brought PCs into our homes.The New Yorker (Jun 26, 2015)
    demos (common people) + kratos (rule, strength) + ize (suffix forming verbs)
    In the example sentence, the verb has nothing to do with the nation's political system. Rather, the democratization focuses on social equality: due to their lower costs and smaller sizes, computers were no longer just in offices or universities, but became tools that all of us could have access to.
  4. democrat
    an advocate of rule by and for the people
    Following the coup, Iranian intellectuals no longer viewed Americans as missionaries, democrats, teachers, nurses and doctors, but as oilmen, spies and military men.Time (Sep 18, 2015)
    demos (common people) + kratos (rule, strength)
    According to the example sentence, Iranian intellectuals once viewed Americans as helpful democrats, missionaries, teachers, and healthcare providers. But after the 1979 coup that led to a theocracy (the belief in government by divine guidance), Americans were accused of destroying democracy within Iran, while a series of religious, military, and elected leaders tried to keep power by fanning anti-Americanism.
  5. demography
    the study of the characteristics of human populations
    But where demography is truly becoming destiny is in the growing richness and complexity of our population.Forbes (May 26, 2015)
    demos (common people) + graphy (suffix forming names of descriptive sciences)
    The 19th century philosophical idea that "demography is destiny" has supported predictions of famines due to increasing births, social unrest due to uneven gender ratios, and political outcomes due to who's voting where. The example sentence suggests that an inevitable result due to population changes can also be positive.
  6. demographer
    a scientist who studies the growth and density of populations and their vital statistics
    That is why many demographers expect human population to peak and then decline before 2100.Scientific American (Oct 6, 2015)
    demos (common people) + graphy (suffix forming names of descriptive sciences) + er (suffix forming nouns)
    According to the article, the reason that human population will eventually decline is that more people are moving from rural areas to cities. When we are surrounded by less space and more opportunities, we are less likely to choose to have big families. In the eyes of conservationists, a move towards urbanization would also give lands and animals a chance to recover.
  7. demographic
    a statistic characterizing human populations
    Viewers in the key advertising demographic of 18 to 34 make up only 25.5% of the TV audience, down from 30.5% four years ago.Los Angeles Times (Aug 18, 2015)
    demos (common people) + graphy (suffix forming names of descriptive sciences) + ic (suffix forming adjectives)
    In the 1960s, the adjective was pluralized and turned into a noun to refer to the science of making predictions based on statistics about television audiences and advertisers. In the example sentence, the 18 to 34 demographic is not a science or statistic, but a specific population for which statistics are provided.
  8. demagogue
    a leader who seeks support by appealing to popular passions
    Issues like immigration and free trade are easier to demagogue than explain.Wall Street Journal (Sep 22, 2015)
    demos (common people) + agogos (leader)
    According to the roots and definition, 1) the word should be a noun; 2) a demagogue should be admired. But the example sentence uses the word as a verb to negatively contrast with "explain." This emphasizes that leaders who focus on appealing to popular passions often ignore reason and lack a clear vision.
  9. demagoguery
    impassioned appeals to the emotions of the populace
    Divided governments, as well as divided corporations, have historically rallied behind strong leadership that emphasizes problem solving over demagoguery and infighting.Forbes (Nov 8, 2014)
    demos (common people) + agogos (leader) + ery (suffix forming nouns)
    The second to last syllable is often deleted to create the synonymous "demagogy." But this might make it sound too similar to "pedagogy" which could irritate teachers who are concerned with problem-solving and developing students' minds.
  10. demotic
    of or for the common people
    But by the 1980s, publishers wanted literature to reflect the demotic speech of ordinary folk.BBC (Aug 27, 2014)
    demos (common people) + ic (suffix forming adjectives)
    The article contrasts the Standard English taught in public schools with demotic Scottish speech; this makes "demotic" synonymous with "colloquial" ("characteristic of informal spoken language or conversation"). This reaction to oppression is not a reason for the ancient Egyptians' demotic alphabet, which simplified the hieroglyphic and hieratic alphabets for easier use in various settings.

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