I completely support your interest in etymology, and, in particular, its use in acquiring and understanding vocabulary. The largest group of words in modern English comes from Latin, through French and from Greek, through Latin, through French. Both Latin and Greek formed new words by adding prefixes and/or suffixes to existing root words. Therefore, as you have suggested, learning the meanings of those additives can be very helpful.Originally Posted by bmo
I agree with you about "defunct", except for the meaning of "de-" There are a number of meanings for "de-" other than completely or intensively. In many cases, de-" means the reverse or the opposite of. So defunct means the opposite of functional. The word destitute originally just meant "lacking" or "devoid" of. It comes from the reverse of "set" or "standing". I like your take on "debate".We all have our ways of memorization. For example, the word defunct, I think of de-, as not + functioning, so it is not functioning, although etymology book will tell you de- is completely or intensively. And I interpret destitute as someone without owning a building or a house, so it is poor. And I interpret debate as 2 people fighting but keeping a distance from each other. De- is off, and bate is to beat.
"Fetter", on the other hand, has Germanic roots and has no relation to iron (Latin ferrum). It is actually related to the Indo-European root "ped" for foot.