Humanities › English Boost Your English Vocabulary With These 50 Greek and Latin Root Words Share Flipboard Email Print ThoughtCo. English English Grammar An Introduction to Punctuation Writing by Richard Nordquist Richard Nordquist is a freelance writer and former professor of English and Rhetoric who wrote college-level Grammar and Composition textbooks. Updated August 31, 2018 In English grammar, a root is a word or portion of a word from which other words grow, usually through the addition of prefixes and suffixes. By learning root words, you can decipher unfamiliar words, expand your vocabulary, and become a better English speaker. The Roots of Words Most words in the English language are based on words from ancient Greek and Latin. The root of the word "vocabulary," for example, is voc, a Latin root meaning "word" or "name." This root also appears in such words as "advocacy," "convocation," "evocative," "vocal," and "vowel." By dissecting words such as these, etymologists can study how a word has evolved over time and tell us about the cultures they came from. Root words are also useful for creating new words, especially in technology and medicine, where new innovations occur frequently. Think of the Greek root word tele, which means "far," and inventions that traverse long distances, such as the telegraph, telephone, and television. The word "technology" itself is a combination of two other Greek root words, techne, meaning "skill" or "art," and logos, or "study." Greek Root Words The table below defines and illustrates 25 of the most common Greek roots. Root Meaning Examples anti against antibacterial, antidote, antithesis ast(er) star asteroid, astronomy, astronaut aqu water aquarium, aquatic, aqualung auto self automatic, automate, autobiograph biblio book bibliography, bibliophile bio life biography, biology, biodegradable chrome color monochromatic, phytochrome chrono time chronic, synchronize, chronicle doc teach document, docile, doctrinal dyna power dynasty, dynamic, dynamite geo earth geography, geology, geometry gno to know agnostic, acknowledge graph write autograph, graphic, demographic hydr water dehydrate, hydrant, hydropower kinesis movement kinetic, photokinesis logos word, study astrology, biology, theologian narc sleep narcotic, narcolepsy path feel empathy, pathetic, apathy phil love philosophy, bibliophile, philanthropy phon sound microphone, phonograph, telephone photo light photograph, photocopy, photon schem plan scheme, schematic syn together, with synthetic, photosynthesis tele far telescope, telepathy, television tropos turning heliotrope, tropical Latin Root Words The table below defines and illustrates 25 of the most common Latin roots. Root Meaning Examples ab to move away abstract, abstain, aversion acer, acri bitter acrid, acrimony, exacerbate audi hear audible, audience, auditorium bene good benefit, benign, benefactor brev short abbreviate, brief circ round circus, circulate dict say dictate, edict, dictionary duc lead, make deduce, produce, educate fund bottom founder, foundation, funding gen to birth gene, generate, generous hab to have ability, exhibit, inhabit jur law jury, justice, justify lev to lift levitate, elevate, leverage log, logue thought logic, apologize, analogy luc, lum light lucid, illuminate, translucent manu hand manual, manicure, manipulate mis, mit send missile, transmit, permit omni all omnivorous, omnipotent, omniscent pac peace pacify, pacific, pacifist port carry export, import, important quit silent, restive tranquil, requiem, acquit scrib, script to write script, proscribe, describe sens to feel sensitive, sentient, resent terr earth terrain, territory, extraterrestrial tim to fear timid, timorous vac empty vacuum, vacate, evacuate vid, vis to see video, vivid, invisible Understanding the meanings of the common word roots can help us deduce the meanings of new words that we encounter. But be careful: root words can have more than one meaning as well as various shades of meaning. In addition, words that look similar may derive from different roots. Sources Bryant, Alice, and Robbins, Jill. "Grow Your Vocabulary by Learning Root Words." VOANews.com, 28 November 2017.Grammarly staff. "Why You Should Learn Roots." Grammarly.com, 6 February 2016.McCammon, Ellen. "50 GRE Words You Should Know." PrepScholar.com, 8 February 2017. Continue Reading Why Should I Know Greek or Latin Root Words? What are Root Words in English? Using Greek and Latin Roots to Understand Words Improve Your Vocabulary: Learn the Latin Root "Ambul" What Are Morphs in Language? 27 Prefixes You Can Use to Expand Your Spanish Vocabulary Word Family: Definition and Examples in English Word Stories: The Surprising Origins of Everyday Words What Words in Psychology Are Based on Greek or Latin Roots? Here's How to Translate 'Micropachycephalosaurus' Into Plain English What Are Derivational Morphemes? 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