One of the most effective ways of learning new words is learning through root words. Before we delve into the details let’s answer one basic question here,
What is a Root Word?
A Root Wordis the heart of the word, the element upon which the word is built. Root words are parts upon which complete words are built.
Let’s take up an example to understand how root words work. Have you heard of the word calligraphy? It means beautiful writing. It is derived from a combination of Greek Root Words:
- Calli which beautiful
- Grapho/graphy/graphy which means to write or to record
These two root words combine to give us calligraphy: the art of writing beautifully.
How to use Root words to Improve Vocabulary
Root words are a powerful method to learn and by using this method, you can learn multiple words at the same time. It also reduces your effort. Instead of learning 50 new words, you can learn 5 roots and about 10 words for each root word. The benefit of this root word method is twofold, firstly, you can retain more words and secondly, you can make a calculated guess and deduce the meanings of new words that you come across on a day to day basis.
Let’s understand this with the help of an example,
We just learnt about the Root Word: ‘grapho/graph/graphy’ which means to record or write.
Some words from the same root are:
- Graphologist: a specialist who studies handwriting.
- Holograph: Handwritten book or document (the root ‘holo’ stands for ‘hand’
- Lexicographer: A compiler or writer of a dictionary
Now, while reading an article you come across the word ‘orthography’, and you don’t know the meaning of this word. You can clearly understand that it is related to writing, which is very close to the actual meaning, a set of conventions for writing a language. Check out these commonly used roots and words based on them.
Common Root Words and Their Meanings
Let’s explore 30 of the most common Greek and Latin roots used in the English language.
|Root Word||Meaning||Origin||Related Words|
|A/n||not, without||Greek||Abyss- something in-depth or profound|
Achromatic –something which is colourless
Anhydrous –No water
|Ambul||walk, move||Latin||Amble – Stroll|
Ambulant – move around
Ambulance – a vehicle that moves a sick or injured people to and from hospital
|Anim||life, spirit||Latin||Animal – a living organism which has all the 5 senses as well as nervous system|
Animate – Having life
Equanimity –a quality or condition of being cool
|Ann/enn||year||Latin||Anniversary –a ceremony in which an event is remembered|
|Astro||outerspace||Greek||Astronaut – a person travelling to space|
|Auto||self, same, one||Greek||Autonomy: condition of being self ruled|
Autobiography: personal life story
|Bene||good, well||Latin||Benefit: gain|
Benevolent –big heartedness
|Bio||life, living matter||Greek||Biochemistry: branch of science relating to chemicals|
Biophilia:rapport of human with natural world
|Cardi/o||heart||Greek||Cardiovascular –damage to hearts major blood vessels|
Cardiologist – a heart doctor
|Carn/i||flesh, meat||Latin||Carnivorous –meat eating; carnival: annual festival|
|Chron/o||time||Greek||Anachronism- A person or a thing who/that seems to be displaced in time.|
Chronological – arrangement of events in a time-wise order
Synchronize – occurring at the same time
|Cide, cise||cut, kill||Latin||Homicide – murder|
Insecticide – a chemical used to kill insects
Patricide- killing of father
Matricide- killing of mother
Suicide- killing yourself
|Circum||around, about||Latin||Circumnavigate- travel around, in a ship or a plane|
Circumscribe – to draw a line around something
Circumspect – looking around cautiously
Circumlocution- An indirect way of speaking something
|Cogn/i||know||Latin||Cognizant: having knowledge|
|Dem/o||people||Greek||democracy – government of the people;|
|Derm/a||skin||Greek||Dermatologist – a doctor for the skin; dermatitis: Eczema|
|Enn/i, Anni||years||Latin||Perennial –continuous; long lasting|
Biennial: happening every 2 years
|Equ/i||equal, equally||Latin||Equidistant – an equal distance from two points; Equation – a statement of equality.|
|Fid||faith||Latin||Confide – trust someone, fidelity – faithfulness;|
|Geo||earth, soil, global||Greek||Geocentric: representing earth as the centre; Geometry: branch of maths related to shapes and dimensions.|
|Hetero||different, other||Greek||Heterogeneous –different|
Heteronyms – words with same spelling but different meanings
|Inter||between, among, jointly||Latin||International – involving two or more countries|
Intersection – place where lines come together
|Lact/o||milk||Latin||Lactate – to give milk|
Lactose – the sugar contained in milk
|Loqu, locu||speak||Latin||Eloquent – speaking beautifully and forcefully|
Loquacious – talkativeness
Elocution – art of public speaking
|Macro||large, great||Greek||Macroevolution – large scale evolution|
Macromolecule – a large molecule;
|Mal/e||bad, ill, wrong||Latin||Malnutrition:lack of proper nutrition|
|Nom/in||name||Latin||Nominal – being something in name|
Nominate – to elect
|Omni||all||Latin||Omnipresent: present everywhere|
Omnivorous eating all foods.
|Pan||all, any, everyone||Greek||Panacea – a remedy for disease|
Panache:a stylish, original, and very confident way of doing things that makes people admire you
|Retro||backward, back||Latin||Retrograde: to move backwards.|
Retrospect – the remembering of past events.
Thus, it is clear from this article that Root Words can play a very important role in enhancing your vocabulary and can also help you in understanding words in context.
Complete List of Articles in this Series
- English Root Words and their Meanings
- 30 Must Know Greek Root Words
- Learn 30 Latin Root Words
- Detailed List of Root Words
- Enhance your Learning with Root Word Dictionary
- Learn Through Root Word Examples
- 15 Must Know Root Words in English
- An Extensive Roots Words List
- Learn Various Roots of Words to Improve Vocabulary
- How to use Word Roots to Improve Vocabulary?