Yes, today I come to you as another dangerous etymologist with another stupid theory. I do think, however, that my “stupid theory” can help you learn the following words: meander, wander and roam. All of these words mean to walk with no destination or to take an indirect path.
So what is my really bad theory? As you can see, both “meander” and “wander have “ander” in common. Now, I am obviously no expert in etymology, but since both words can mean “walk” and since both words contain “ander”, it seemed to me that they could possibly be related to the modern Spanish “andar” which means, not surprisingly, “to walk”.
I, however, looked in more than one dictionary and apparently my theory is absolutely, positively ridiculous. The words have different roots from different languages. OK, fine – my theory is stupid. But, I still think that looking at the “ander” portion of the word and thinking “andar” (Spanish for walk) is a good way to remember the words.
Oh no! Now I am going to go from bad theories to bad puns (word plays). Just as the common “ander” will help you remember “wander” and “meander”, the sentence “I will roam around Rome” will make the third word much easier to remember. And, yes, both “roam” and “Rome” have identical pronunciations.
Enough bad theories and puns, here are some good examples:
It was a beautiful day so we spent the afternoon wandering/meandering/roaming around the city.
Jessica wandered /meandered/ roamed around the old castle mesmerized by the art and architecture.
Wandering/ meandering/ roaming around this neighborhood at night isn’t advisable – it isn’t the safest area.
One last note, logically we don’t use the prepositions “to” with theses words. “To” implies a directness that is opposite to the meaning of these words. For this reason, with “meander” and “wander” we use less direct prepositions like “around” or “toward”. With “roam” we use only “around”.