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Root Word Examples

Phonetics:

ruːt

wɜːd

Pronunciation:

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Comprehensive Guide to Root Word Examples and Uses

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Introduction

Root words, including micro words, are the foundation of the English language. A word’s meaning depends on its root word. Your English proficiency will suffer if you do not understand root words and their meanings.

Importance of Root Words:

  • Uncovering Meaning: If you are familiar with the core meaning of root words, you can easily explore new words in the English language. For example, “dicta” means ‘to say’ and is used in dictation and the dictionary.

  • Vocabulary Building: Recognising root words can lead to a tremendous vocabulary expansion. You can connect words through their root words and comprehend new words.

  • Improving Confidence: Your linguist prowess improves, making you more sure about using language. Self-doubt goes out the window as you figure out how words are built and language develops.
root word vocabulary

What Are Root Words?

In English, the root words are the cornerstone or base words from which others develop. The origin of these words can be traced back to the Latin and Greek languages. To make new words, prefixes and suffixes are added to the root words. Consequently, the meanings of these words can vary from those of their root words.

Root Word Examples: The root word ‘happy’ means a state of joy. When the prefix ‘un’ is added to ‘happy’, the word ‘unhappy’ is formed, which denotes not being happy or the opposite.

Similarly, ‘loco’ means place and ‘location’ means a particular place or position.

Root Words Role in Word Formation

  • Assists in Deciphering Meaning: Since root words are the foundation of a word, knowing their meaning empowers you to uncover the meaning of new or unfamiliar words.

  • Creates Word Families: These words allow you to create word families. Groups of words with a common root word become a part of a family. Such a strategy is an excellent tool for any English language learner.

  • Improves Spellings and Pronunciation: When you are well-versed in pronouncing the root word, you can get a reasonably good idea of the sounds of the words created with the root word.

Root Word Examples with Meaning

Progress in comprehending what are root words is incomplete without knowing what are some of the most common root words in English. Below are significant root word examples with meanings.

Aqua – Water

  • Examples: Aquatic, Aquarium, Aqueduct

Bio – Life

  • Examples: Biology, Biography, Biodegradable

Chrono – Time

  • Examples: Chronology, Chronic, Synchronise

Duct – To Lead

  • Examples: Conduct, Induct, Aqueduct

Graph – To Write

  • Examples: Autograph, Graphic, Telegraph

Jur – Law

  • Examples: Jury, Jurisdiction, Injure

Mort – Death

  • Examples: Mortal, Mortuary, Immortal

Pater/Patri – Father

  • Examples: Paternal, Patriarch, Patriot

Phon – Sound

  • Examples: Telephone, Symphony, Phonics

Port – To Carry

  • Examples: Transport, Export, Porter

Scribe/Script – To Write

  • Examples: Describe, Scripture, Inscription

Temp – Time

  • Examples: Temporary, Contemporary, Temporal

Voc/Vok – To Call

  • Examples: Vocal, Invocation, Advocate

Cred – To Believe

  • Examples: Credible, Credential, Creed

Dict – To Say

  • Examples: Dictate, Predict, Verdict

Firm – Strong

  • Examples: Confirm, Affirm, Firmament

Grav – Heavy

  • Examples: Gravity, Grave, Aggravate

Manu – Hand

  • Examples: Manual, Manufacture, Manuscript

Spect – To Look

  • Examples: Inspect, Spectator, Perspective

Vert – To Turn

  • Examples: Convert, Invert, Revert

Exploring Root Words in English Vocabulary

  • A root word is a standalone word derived from a source language. In the case of English, the source language can be Latin or Greek.

  • You might have heard these terms used together: ‘Root word’, ‘prefix’, ‘suffix’. They are placed together because a root word with a prefix or suffix becomes a new word. Prefixes are added to the beginning of the word, whereas suffixes are added to the end.

  • For example, the root word “tele”, which means “far,” can be combined with the suffix “-vision” (meaning “to see”) to form the word “television”,  which means “seeing from far.”

  • The root word encourages you to investigate the meaning of a word. The word ‘investigate’ comes from the Latin word investigatus, which means to track.
root word examples

Root Word Prefix and Suffix

Your root words are like Lego blocks that you can combine with other Lego blocks to create new words. Root words with prefixes and suffixes form new words.

Prefixes: Prefixes added to the beginning of a word can change its meaning or even create a word with an opposite meaning (antonym).

Examples:

  • un- (meaning “not”) – unhappy, unlock
  • re- (meaning “again”) – rebuild, rewrite
  • dis- (meaning “not” or “opposite”) – disagree, dishonest

Suffixes: Suffixes are added to the end of a word and can change the word’s tense or meaning.

Examples:

  • ed: added to a verb, it can create its past tense- played, saved
  • -er: creates a noun denoting someone who does something – teacher, runner
  • -ful: adds the meaning “full of” – hopeful, helpful
  • -ment: creates a noun from a verb – development, enjoyment

Root Words List: Expanding Your Vocabulary

Edulyte’s English mentors have created a detailed root words list for you to explore and master new words.

Root Word

Meaning

Examples

Aqua

Water

Aquarium, Aquatic

Bio

Life

Biology, Biography

Chron

Time

Chronology, Synchronize

Dict

Say

Dictate, Contradict

Geo

Earth

Geography, Geology

Graph

Write

Autograph, Graphology

Hydro

Water

Hydrate, Hydroplane

Logy

Study of

Biology, Geology

Meter

Measure

Thermometer, Kilometer

Path

Feeling, Disease

Pathology, Empathy

Phil

Love

Philosophy, Bibliophile

Phobia

Fear

Claustrophobia, Acrophobia

Photo

Light

Photograph, Photosynthesis

Port

Carry

Transport, Portable

Psych

Mind

Psychology, Psychopath

Scope

Look

Telescope, Microscope

Tele

Far

Telephone, Telegraph

Therm

Heat

Thermometer, Thermal

Auto

Self

Autobiography, Autopilot

Aero

Air

Aerodynamics, Aeronautics

Arch

Chief, Primary

Monarch, Archaeology

Biblio

Book

Bibliography, Bibliophile

Cide

Kill

Pesticide, Homicide

Cracy

Rule

Democracy, Theocracy

Derm

Skin

Dermatology, Epidermis

Ethno

Race, Culture

Ethnography, Ethnocentric

Gastro

Stomach

Gastronomy, Gastroenterologist

Gen

Origin, Race

Generation, Genealogy

Helio

Sun

Heliotrope, Heliocentric

Hemo

Blood

Hemoglobin, Hemophilia

Herb

Grass

Herbivore, Herbal

Loco

Place

Location, Relocate

Mania

Madness

Kleptomania, Pyromania

Morph

Form

Metamorphosis, Morphology

Neo

New

Neolithic, Neonatal

Ortho

Straight

Orthodontist, Orthopedic

Pan

All

Panorama, Pantheism

Penta

Five

Pentagon, Pentagram

Poly

Many

Polygamy, Polygon

Proto

First

Prototype, Protozoan

Pseudo

FALSE

Pseudonym, Pseudoscience

Psycho

Soul

Psychiatry, Psychosomatic

Pter

Wing

Pterodactyl, Helicopter

Pyro

Fire

Pyrotechnics, Pyromania

Soph

Wisdom

Philosophy, Sophomore

Sphere

Ball

Atmosphere, Biosphere

Theo

God

Theology, Theocracy

Tox

Poison

Toxic, Antitoxin

Zo

Animal

Zoology, Protozoa

Centri

Center

Centrifuge, Egocentric

Chrom

Color

Chromatic, Monochrome

Cycl

Circle

Bicycle, Cyclical

Gam

Marriage

Monogamist, Polygamy

Gon

Angle

Pentagon, Octagon

Gyn

Woman

Gynecology, Misogynist

Lith

Stone

Monolith, Paleolithic

Matri

Mother

Matrimony, Matriarch

Mega

Large

Megabyte, Megaphone

Paleo

Old

Paleontology, Paleolithic

Path

Feeling

Pathetic, Empathy

Ped

Foot

Pedestrian, Pedal

Phono

Sound

Phonograph, Microphone

Pod

Foot

Podiatry, Tripod

Tact

Touch

Tactile, Contact

Typo

Print

Typewriter, Typography

Vid

See

Video, Evident

Greek Root Words and Their Influence

The Greek root words are strongly present in the English vocabulary pantheon, particularly in science, philosophy, and medicine. Discover which commonly used words have Greek antecedents.

Anthropo- (human)

  • Example: Anthropology (the study of humans)

Bio- (life)

  • Example: Biology (the study of living organisms)

Chrono- (time)

  • Example: Chronology (the arrangement of events in time)

Demo- (people)

  • Example: Democracy (government by the people)

Geo- (earth)

  • Example: Geography (the study of the earth’s physical features)

Graph- (to write)

  • Example: Graphic (about visual art or written representation)

Log- (word, study)

  • Example: Logic (the study of reasoning)

Meter- (measure)

  • Example: Thermometer (an instrument for measuring temperature)

Path- (feeling, disease)

  • Example: Pathology (the study of diseases)

Phil- (love)

  • Example: Philosophy (the love or pursuit of wisdom)

Phon- (sound)

  • Example: Telephone (a device for transmitting sound over long distances)

Psych- (mind)

  • Example: Psychology (the study of the mind and behaviour)

Scope- (to see, look)

  • Example: Telescope (an optical instrument for viewing distant objects)

Techno- (skill, art, craft)

  • Example: Technology (the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes)

Theo- (god)

  • Example: Theology (the study of the nature of God and religious belief)

Special Focus: Micro Words

You have probably encountered many micro words in the English language. Micro means ‘small’ or ‘tiny’ and comes from the Greek word mikros, meaning’ small’.

Significance of Micro Words in Studying Root Words

While these tiny or micro words may seem insignificant, combined with other words, they contribute to a richer vocabulary.

  • Building Blocks: If you comprehend the meaning of the micro words, you can easily combine them with other words to create new words.

  • Establishing Semantic Connections: You can identify the relationship between words if two words share a common root word.

Examples of Micro Words:

  1. Bio- means ‘life’- biology, biosphere
  2. Chron- means ‘time’ – chronology, chronicle

Root Word PDF Resources

You can learn the root words in several resources online and offline. Many resources offer root word PDFs for deeper learning.

Educational Websites: Many such platforms offer downloadable resources for students and teachers. A few of them include:

Books: They are always a go-to resource for enriching your vocabulary. Some books to refer to for root words are:

  1. Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis,
  2.  Building Vocabulary Skills by Sherrie L. Nist and the 
  3. English Vocabulary in Use series by Michael McCarthy and Felicity O’Dell.
  4.  Roots and Affixes Vocabulary Development by Dr. Robert Marzano and 
  5. Vocabulary from Latin and Greek Roots by Elizabeth Osborne.

Practical Applications of Root Words in Daily Language

Understanding root words enhances your language ability. A practical skill, a root word vocabulary contributes to your daily language use.

  • Cracking the Meaning: Recognition of a root word allows you to unlock the meaning of a new word. The core meaning of the root word can make you familiar with an unfamiliar word. Example: ‘faith’ means trust. Adding the prefix ‘un’ and the suffix ‘ful’ makes a new word ‘unfaithful’, meaning disloyal.
  • Contextual Understanding: You can comprehend the meanings of words in a context if you are familiar with the root words’ meanings.

  • Robust Comprehension: Root words are the magic potion allowing you to read and comprehend English better. If you are familiar with the root words, you can quickly determine the meaning of a sentence, a message, or a story. Your spelling ability also reaches a higher level.

  • Productive Communication: A firm grasp of root words equals better communication ability in English, as you can choose words more precisely to convey your intended meaning.

Root Word 'Contra' and Its Variants

The root word “contra” comes from Latin and means “against” or “opposite.” As per Edulyte’s root word vocabulary, the root word ‘contra’ in English forms words that convey opposition, contrast, or disagreement.

Contradict – To assert the opposite of a statement; to deny or disagree with something.

  • Example: His actions contradicted his words.

Contrary – Opposite in nature, direction, or meaning.

  • Example: Her opinion is contrary to mine.

Contrast – The state of being strikingly different from something else.

  • Example: The contrast of black and white colours makes the outfit beautiful.

Contraption– A device with a complex or confusing design

  • Example: My uncle’s hobby is making contraptions from spare electronic bits.

Contradictory-containing statements that oppose each other

  • Example: The evidence in the case is contradictory to the accused testimony.

Medical Root Words: 'Epi', 'Hypo', 'Morph'

What do the words epidural, hypothermia, and morphology have in common? Other than having root words, they are all related to the medical field. Understanding these root words increases your medical knowledge and familiarises you with medical terminology. Let us uncover more words in the medical field containing the root word ‘epi’, the root word ‘hypo’, and the root word ‘morph’.

Root Word Epi (meaning: upon, over, on top of):

  • Medical Use: In medical terms, “epi” often signifies something located on the surface or outer part of the body.

Examples: 

  • Epidermis: The outer layer of the skin.
  • Epigastric: Relating to the area of the abdomen located above the stomach.
  • Epidural: The space on or outside the dura mater (the outermost membrane covering the brain and spinal cord).

Root Word Hypo (meaning: below, under, deficient):

  • Medical Use: Medical terms with “hypo” often indicate something below normal, deficient.

Examples:

  • Hypothermia: A condition where the body temperature falls below normal.
  • Hypotension: Abnormally low blood pressure.
  • Hypoglycemia: Low blood sugar.

Root Word Morph (meaning: shape, form):

  • Medical Use: In medicine, “morph” is used in terms related to shape, form, or development.

Examples: 

  • Morphine: A powerful pain medication derived from opium.

  • Morphology: The study of the form and structure of an organism or organ.

Discover the 'Aqua' Root Word

‘Aqua’ is a Latin word that signifies something very relevant in our lives: water. In English, the root word aqua denotes many words related to water or liquids.

  • Aquatic: Living or growing in water (e.g., aquatic plants, aquatic animals)

  • Aquarium: A tank for keeping aquatic animals (e.g., a freshwater aquarium or a saltwater aquarium)

  • Aquafer – A body of permeable rock that can contain or transmit groundwater.

  • Aquamarine: A precious gemstone with a blue-green colour reminiscent of seawater

Conclusion

Learning root words takes you on the superhighway of language learning. Its long-term benefits are evident.

  • Language Appreciation: You get to trace the historical development of the language and appreciate its richness and complexity.

  • Word Bank Expansion: The vocabulary development receives impetus when you are familiar with the root words and their meanings. It becomes effortless to make connections between the words.

  • Improved Language Skills: Pronunciation, spelling, and language comprehension abilities are boosted by expertise in root words.

So, the next time you encounter a new word, look for its root word. By traversing these linguistic wonders, you will become a true expert in the English language.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are root words?

Root words are the base part of a word, to which prefixes and suffixes can be added to create new words. They often hold the core meaning of the word.

Can you give some examples of common root words?

Sure, some common root words include “spect,” which means to look; “form,” which means to shape. These roots help form words like inspect and reform.

How do root word prefixes and suffix additions change meanings?

Adding prefixes and suffixes to root words alters their meanings. For example, adding ‘dis-‘ to ‘like’ changes it to ‘dislike,’ which means not to like.

Where can I find a comprehensive root word list?

Right here! Edulyte offers a free downloadable PDF of the root word list. Also, a comprehensive list of root words can typically be found in educational textbooks on language or online educational resources dedicated to vocabulary development.

What are micro words in relation to root words?

Micro words are not a standard linguistic term, but in the context of root words, they might refer to concise root words that form a significant base for many derivatives, like “bio,” which means life.

How can I use root words to improve my vocabulary?

Understanding root words can significantly boost your vocabulary. Knowing the meaning of a root word can help you deduce the meanings of new words that share the same root.

Are there specific root words from Greek that are commonly used?

Yes, many English words are derived from Greek roots. For example, ‘graph’ means writing leads to words like an autograph or a paragraph.

Can you provide examples of root words used in medical terminology?

Indeed, in medical terminology, ‘hypo’ means under (as in hypoglycemia), and ‘epi’ means on or above (as in epidermis).

Where can I download a root word PDF for study?

Download our free PDF with root words to study. Many other educational websites offer downloadable PDFs for root word studies. University websites and educational platforms are good places to start.

What is an example of a root word with the root 'morph'?

The root ‘morph’ means shape or form. An example would be ‘morphology,’ which studies the form and structure of things, mainly spoken or written language.

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