The Latin root word fin means an ‘end,’ as in a ‘boundary’ or ‘limit.’
All students know that a final exam is taken at the ‘end’ of a course. Likewise, all those who go to a music concert know that the finale marks the ‘end’ of a composition. When you enter a race, the finish line marks the ‘end’ of it.
Something that is infinite in size has no ‘end’ at all. The idea behind infinity is that there is no ‘end’ or ‘limit’ to it whatsoever! Whereas infinity indicates incomprehensibly boundless size, something that has no ‘end’ about how small it can be is infinitesimal. When something’s size is confined, however, it has a thorough ‘end,’ for a ‘boundary’ has been set up around it.
So, what exactly is a definition? A dictionary definition marks the ‘end’ or ‘limit’ to the meanings that a given word has! If the description of something is indefinite, on the other hand, it has no perceivable ‘end’ or ‘boundary,’ and thus is unclear.
Let’s continue with some more examples of English vocabulary which illustrate that the Latin root word fin means ‘end.’ If your teacher says that you have done a fine job on something, she means that it has been nicely finished, or given a grand ‘end,’ just as a well-sharpened pencil has a fine or finished point, being given a perfect ‘end.’
An oil refinery refines or processes oil to its usable ‘end.’ Since there ultimately is a finite amount of oil, that is, there will eventually be an ‘end’ to it, oil refineries will not be around forever.
Have you ever met someone who is really picky, or really finicky? A finicky person’s ‘boundaries’ are a little too fine, since they are so very difficult to please—there is no ‘end’ to a finicky person’s demands!
OK, I will now bring an ‘end’ to this discussion, since we are finally done! Now you will be well prepared for defining words that use fin, knowing exactly what their ‘ends’ or ‘limits’ are!
- final: pertaining to an ‘end’
- finale: an ‘end’ to something
- finish: an ‘end’
- infinite: having no ‘end’ or ‘limit’
- infinity: mathematical entity having no ‘end’
- infinitesimal: pertaining to something having no ‘end’ to its smallness
- confine: provide a thorough ‘boundary’ for, or ‘end’ beyond which one cannot pass
- definition: a ‘boundary’ or ‘end’ for the meaning of a word
- indefinite: not having an ‘end’ or ‘boundary’
- fine: brought to a good ‘end’
- refinery: industrial plant where a crude substance is processed thoroughly to a usable ‘end’
- finite: quality of having an ‘end’ to something
- finicky: pertaining to someone who has too many ‘limiting’ boundaries