Greek and Latin Root Words

Did you know Greek and Latin words form the basis, or root, for several words in the English language? Indeed, we have borrowed from GreekLatinFrench, and almost every other classic or romance language. Why is this important? Well, sometimes we come across words that not even context clues can help us define. So, understanding the root of as many words as possible will help us decipher complex words that are unfamiliar to us.

In this way, if you understand the root, a simple suffix or prefix won't deter you from comprehension. Let's take the word antisocial, for example. As long as you remember the prefix anti- means against or opposite, and social refers to community or companionship you'll quickly understand antisocial means unfriendly or against society's norms.

Greek and Latin Roots

Being a voracious reader will naturally boost your vocabulary. Context clues also provide helpful hints. But, certainly, a thorough understanding of our Greek and Latin root words is another tool in your kit. Let's take a look at some examples from each language.

Greek Root

Meaning

English Words

aer

air, atmosphere

aeronautics, aerosol

arche/archaeo

primitive, ancient, origin

archaic, archaeology

auto

self

autobiography, autoimmune

biblio

books, of books

bibliography, bibliophile

bio

life

autobiography, biology

chron

time

chronology, chronological

cosm/cosmo

world

microcosm, cosmic

dem

people

demographics, democracy

derma

skin

dermatologist, hypodermic

ethn/ethno

nation, race

ethnicity, ethos

geo

earth

geography, geology

gen

family, race

genealogy, genetic

gram

writing

grammar, grammatical

hemo

blood

hemophiliac, hemorrhage

hiero

sacred, holy

hieroglyphics, hierarchy

hydr/hydra/hydro

water

hydrate, hydraulic

ideo

idea

ideology, ideologue

log/logy

study, speech

logic, dialogue

meter/metr

measure

diameter, thermometer

micro

small

microscope, microcosm

ono/onym

name

anonymous, onomatopoeia

phil

loving

philanthropic, philanthropy

phob

fear

phobia, arachnophobia

phon

sound

phonetic, telephone

photo/phos

light

photograph, phosphorous

pneu

air, breath

pneumonia, pneumatic

polis

city

metropolis, cosmopolitan

psyche

mind, spirit

psychology, psychic

pyr

fire

pyromaniac, pyrogen

techno

Art, skill

architect, technique

the/theo

god

theology, apotheosize


Latin Root

Meaning

English Words

acer/acid/acri

bitter, sour

acerbic, acidic

agri

field, country

agriculture, agribusiness

alb

white

albino, alabaster

amic

friendly

amicable, inimical

aud

hear, sound

audible, audiology

bon

good

bonanza, bonus

ced/cess

go, yield

recession, recede

femin

woman

feminine, feminism

flect/flex

bend

reflect, flexible

foli

leaf

foliage, defoliant

fract

to break

fracture, fractal

lat

broad, wide

latitude, lateral

lingu

language

bilingual, linguistics

longus

long

longevity, longitude

magn

great, large

magnificent, magnitude

mar

sea

maritime, marine

mir

amazement, wonder

miraculous, mirage

mit/miss

send, cast

remit, dismiss

mut

to change

mutate, mutation

naut

sailor

nautical, nautilus

nomin

to name

name, nominate

not

note, paper

notable, noted

nov

new

novice, novelty

port

to carry, to bear

portal, transport

pel/puls

drive, push

dispel, repulse

port

carry

transport, portable

rupt

to break

rupture, interrupt

sed

Sit

reside, sediment

sol

comfort, soothe

consolation, solace

tact

to touch

contact, tactile

Root Words are Important for SATs

Understanding root words will prove particularly useful for those preparing for the vocabulary section of the SATs. If you can ace the vocabulary and reading comprehension sections of the SATs, you're well on your way to collegiate success.

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