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english root words
English root words have their basic roots from Greek and Latin language. The English root words are a combination of basic words and additional prefixes and suffixes. English root words form a basis of the new word. English root words are parts upon which complete words are built. This usually happens by adding prefixes and suffixes to the word as already mentioned. Now what are prefixes and suffixes?

  • Prefix: An affix that is added before word
  • Suffix: An affix that is added at the end of the word

Before you ask, an affix refers to an addition to a stem word (a stem is a part of the word) in order to modify its meaning or create a new word.

Let’s take up an example to understand how root words in English work. Have you heard of the word Oligarchy? It means rule of a few. It is derived from a combination of Greek Root Words:

  • Oligos which means few
  • Archy which means rule

These two root words combine to give us Oligarchy (rule of a few.)

Word Roots Complete List

Now we can extend this learning and add some more words based on the root ‘archy’:

  • Anarchy: A total absence of rule or government.
  • Monarchy: State ruled over by a single person, as a king or queen.
  • Patriarchy: Form of society in which the Father or Male is head of the family or tribe.
  • Hierarchy: Body of rulers or officials grouped in ranks.
  • Matriarchy: Form of society in which the Mother or Female is head of the family.

You can see from the above example that English root words are a powerful method to learn multiple words at the same time.

English Root words and their Meanings

The most frequently used English root words are listed below:
1. Root Word: pan
Meaning: all
Words: pandemic, panacea, panorama

2. Root Word: thei
Meaning: God
Words: pantheist, atheist

3. Root Word: logy
Meaning of the English root word: study of something
Words: theology, biology, anthopology

4. Root Word: cert
Meaning: sure
Words: certain, certify

5. Root Word: carnio
Meaning: skull
Words: craniotomy, carniology

Word Roots Complete List

6. Root Word: max
Meaning: largest
Words: maxima, maximum

7. Root Word: min
Meaning: smallest
Words: minimal, minimize

8. Root Word: medi
Meaning: medium
Words: medieval, medium

9. Root Word: meta
Meaning: change
Words: metamorphosis, metastasis

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10. Root Word: tox
Meaning: Poison
Words: Toxic, Intoxicated, detox

11. Root Word: man
Meaning: hand
Words: manual, manuscript

12. Root Word: poly
Meaning: many
Words: Polyglot, Polygamy, Polyandry

13. Root Word: Mono
Meaning: Single
Words: Monogamy, Monorail, Monotonous

14. Root Word: Somni
Meaning: Sleep
Words: Insomnia, Somniloquy

15. Root Word: Soli
Meaning: Single
Words: Solitude, Solitary

We hope that this article helped you learn about the common English root words and how to learn these to know, retain and understand new words.


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