Dear Dr. Boil: Do auspicious and suspicious come from the same root word? Where did they part ways and why? —Sincerely, the Rev. W. W. Skeat, Ll.D.

Dear Sir: Both words come from the root “pish,” an interjection used to express disbelief. Thus a suspect is a person as to whose statements or motives one says “pish,” and auspices are auguries or prophecies as to whose accuracy one says “pish.” Etymology, or the tracing of word-origins, is a useful science that allows us to understand much of what we read in the daily papers in a much deeper way than the average reader can appreciate.