How do you pronounce “route”? Does it rhyme with “shoot” or “shout”? No matter which “route” you choose, there’s a homonym for it.

How do you pronounce “route”? Does it rhyme with “shoot” or “shout”?

No matter which “route” you choose, there’s a homonym for it.

For the first option, it’s “root.” And for the second, it’s “rout.” Webster’s lists both, but the “shoot” one is first.

For the record, “root” also can rhyme with “foot,” but the other pronunciation is preferred.

However, there’s just one way to go with “rout” — it rhymes with “shout.” Speaking of ways to go, the root of “route” is the Latin “rupta (via),”  or “(path) broken through.”

“Rout,” the one meaning “a disorderly crowd” or “an overwhelming defeat,” has the same origin.
But “root” does not.

The “rupta” portion comes from the verb “rumpere,” meaning “to break.” An obvious descendant is “rupture,” a “breaking apart or bursting.”

Not quite so obvious are the following:

- “Abrupt” — From the Latin sense of “break off,” “abrupt” can be “sudden,” “unexpected,” “brusque,” “very steep” or “jerky and disconnected.”

- “Disrupt” — In Latin, it’s “break apart,” which is what it means in English, too, as well as “to disturb or interrupt the orderly course of (a social affair, meeting, etc.)”

- “Interrupt” — This one intruded on the previous definition. It also comes from “break apart” in Latin, as well as “break off.” In English, “interrupt” is “to break into or in upon,” “stop or hinder,” “cut off” or “obstruct.”

- “Erupt” — This is what volcanoes and geysers do, as well as skin rashes and new teeth emerging from the gums. And as we know all too well, violence can erupt at any time. “Erupt” retains its Latin sense of “to break out” or “burst forth.”

- “Irrupt” — Instead of causing an outburst, this one means “to burst suddenly or violently (into).” It’s also a term in ecology for “to increase abruptly in size of population.”

- “Corrupt” — This one began when our old Latin friend “rumpere” combined with a form of “com-,” — literally, “to break together.” The result was “corrumpere,” “to destroy, spoil, bribe.” Webster’s defines “corrupt” as “deteriorated from the normal or standard” and offers three specific applications:

“Morally unsound or debased; perverted; evil; depraved.”

“Taking bribes; venal.”

“Containing alterations, errors or admixtures of foreignisms (said of texts, languages, etc.).”

In our high-tech world, that last one also pops up in computer software. Clearly, corruption has been around for a long time. And it’s certainly alive and well today. But it shouldn’t be accepted as “routine” — another word that has traveled the long route from “rumpere.”

And lest we forget:

“The love of money is the root of all evil.” — 1 Timothy 6:10

“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” — Lord Acton (1887)

Power corrupts? Absolutely.

Contact Barry Wood at bwood@rrstar.com or read his blog at blogs.e-rockford.com/woodonwords/.