Common Root Words in English

A root word is the most basic form of a word that is able to convey a particular description, though or meaning. It does not have a prefix or a suffix (at the end of a word). Example: act, all, alter etc.

Common Root Words in English  

ambi, amphi

Meaning: both, on both sides, around

Examples: ambidextrous – able to use both hands equally; ambidexterity, ambiguous – having more than one meaning; ambivalence – conflicting or opposite feelings toward a person or thing, ambivalent, ambient, amboceptor, amputation, ancipital.

ami, amic, imic

Meaning: Friend

Examples: Amicable, Inimical, amiable – friendly, pleasant, lovable; amity – friendly and peaceful relations; amorous – showing romantic love.

bell, belli

Meaning: war

Examples: antebellum – belonging  to a period before a war, especially the American Civil War, bellicose – warlike; belligerent – hostile, ready to fight; rebel – person who opposes and fights, rebellion – refusal to accept some authority, code or convention.


Meaning: good, well

Examples: benefactor – person who gives money to a cause; beneficial – producing a good effect; benevolent – showing kindness or goodwill


Meaning: stone

Examples: calcite; calcium- the flame of acetylene gas generated by reaction of calcium carbide with water; calcification- impregnation with calcareous matter


Meaning: flesh, meat

Examples: carnivorous – flesh-eating; carnal – pertaining to the body or flesh; incarnate – given bodily form.


Meaning: down, against completely, intensive

Examples: cataclysm – a flood or other disaster, catalog – a complete –ing; catastrophe – turning for the worst, a substantial disaster.

cede, ceed, cess

Meaning: go, yield

Examples: exceed – to go beyond the limits; recede – to go back; accessible – easily entered, approached, or obtained.


Meaning: time

Examples: chronic – lasting for a long time; chronological – arranging events in time order, synchronize – happening at the same time.


Meaning: people

Examples: democracy – government of the people; demographic – the study of people; epidemic – spreading among people in a region.


Meaning: skin

Examples: dermatologist – a doctor for the skin; pachyderm – a class of animals with very thick skin (elephant, rhinoceros); dermatitis – inflammation of the skin. ego

Meaning: self

Examples: egoistic – self-centered; alter ego – a higher aspect of oneself; egomania – excessive preoccupation with oneself.


Meaning: within, inside

Examples: endotherm – a creature that can keep its inside temperature fairly constant; endocrine – relating to glands that secrete directly into the blood or lymph; endogamy – the custom to marry within one’s clan, tribe etc.


Meaning: work

Examples: ergonomics – study of the working environment; energy – the power to accomplish work; energetics – science that looks at energy and its transformation. aesth

Meaning: feeling, sensation, beauty

Examples: esthetician – someone who beautifies; aesthetic – pertaining to a sense of beauty; kinesthesia – the sensation of bodily movement.


Meaning: make, do

Examples: artifact – an object made by a person; factory – a place where things are made; malefact – a person who does wrong.


Meaning: faith

Examples: confide – place trust in someone, fidelity – faithfulness; fiduciary – a trustee;


Meaning: bend

Examples: deflect – to bend course because of hitting something; inflection – a bending in the voice’s tone or pitch; flexible – easily bending.


Meaning: stomach

Examples: gastric – pertaining to the stomach; gastronomy – serving the stomach by providing good food; gastritis – inflammation of the stomach.


Meaning: genesis, birth, production, formation, kind

Examples: genealogy – the study of the history of a family; generation – all the people born at approximately the same time; genetic -relating to heredity encoded in the genes.


Meaning: old age

Examples: geriatrics – medicine pertaining to the elderly; gerontocracy – the rule of the elders; gerontology – the science of aging.


Meaning: writing, recording, written

Examples: Graphology – the study of handwritings; autograph – written with one’s own hand; seismograph – a machine noting strength and duration of earthquakes. helic

Meaning: spiral, circular

Examples: helicopter – an aircraft with horizontal rotating wing; helix – a spiral form; helicon – a circular tube.


Meaning: sun

Examples: heliotropism – movement or growth in relating to the sun; heliograph – apparatus used to send message with the help of sunlight; helianthus – genus of plants including sunflowers.

homo, homeo

Meaning: like, alike, same

Examples: homogeneous – of the same nature or kind; homonym – sounding alike; homeopath – a therapy that is based on treating “same with same”.


Meaning: liquid, water

Examples: hydrate – to add water to; hydrophobia – intense fear of water; hydroponics – growing plants in liquid nutrient solution; hydraulic – operated by force created by a liquid.


Meaning: image

Examples: icon – an (often religious) image, in modern usage a simplified graphic of high symbolic content; iconology- science of symbols and icons; iconoclast – someone who destroys religious images and traditional beliefs.


Meaning: peculiar, personal, distinct

Examples: idiomatic – Peculiar to a particular language; idiosyncracy – a physical or mental characteristic typical or a particular person; idiot – someone who is distinctly foolish or stupid.


Meaning: throw

Examples: eject – to throw someone/something out; interject – to throw a remark into a discussion; project – to cast or throw something.


Meaning: law

Examples: judgment – a decision of a court of law; judicial – having to do with judges or courts of law; judiciary – a system of courts of law.


Meaning: motion, division, kinetics – study of the force of motion;

Examples: psychokinesis or telekinesis – the ability to move objects with your mind; cinematography – motion picture making.


Meaning: work

Examples: collaborate – to work with a person; elaborate – to work out the details; laborious – requiring a lot of hard work.


Meaning: milk

Examples: lactate – to give milk, nurse; lactose – the sugar contained in milk; lactic acid.


Meaning: word, doctrine, discourse

Examples: logic – correct reasoning; monologue – a long speech by one speaker; analogy – similarity, especially between things otherwise dissimilar.

loqu, locu

Meaning: speak

Examples: eloquent – speaking beautifully and forcefully; loquacious – very talkative; elocution – art of public speaking.


Meaning: bad, ill, wrong

Examples: malcontent – wrong content; malaria – “bad air”, infectious disease thought to originate from the “bad air” of the swamps, but caused by the bite of an infected mosquito; malicious – showing strong ill will.


Meaning: measure

Examples: audiometer- an instrument that measures hearing acuteness; chronometer- an instrument that measures time; metric – measured.


Meaning: bone

Examples:osteoarthritis – inflammation caused by degeneration of the joints; osteopathy – therapy that uses among others manipulation of the skeleton to restore health; osteology – the study of bones.


Meaning: sharp

Examples: oxymoron – combining two ideas that sharply contradict each other; oxidize – corrode a surface.


Meaning: beside, beyond, abnormal, assistant

Examples: parasite – an organism that lives on and off another living being; parallel – alongside and always an equal distance apart; paragraph – a portion of a written document that presents a distinct idea.


Meaning: protection from

Examples: parachute – protection from falling; parasol – an umbrella used to protect from the sun.


Meaning: feeling, emotion

Examples: antipathy – a feeling of great dislike; apathy – a lack of feeling or interest; empathy – ability to understand another’s feelings.

radic, radix

Meaning: root

Examples: eradicate – pull out at the roots; radical – fundamental, looking at things from a drastic point of view; radish – an edible root of the mustard family. radio

Meaning: radiation, ray

Examples: radioactive – emitting radiation; radiologist – someone diagnosing or treating via radiation.


Meaning: red

Examples: rhododendron – a flower with red/pink flowers; rhodium – an element which produces a red solution; rhodopsin – a purple pigment in the retina that is needed for vision.


Meaning: laugh

Examples: deride – to make fun of someone; ridicule – to make fun or mock; ridiculous – silly, causing laughter.


Meaning: see, examine, observe

Examples: microscope – a device used to see tiny things; periscope – a seeing instrument on a submarine; telescope – a device used to see over a distance. scrib, script

Meaning: write, written

Examples: inscribe – to write letters or words on a surface; scribe – a person who writes out documents; describe – to represent with words or pictures.


Meaning: arrangement

Examples: syntax – the systematic arrangement of words; taxonomy – the science of classification; ataxia – loss of the ability to coordinate muscle action.


Meaning: technique, skill

Examples: technology – the practical application of knowledge; technocracy – rule of technology; technologically – characterized by technology.


Meaning: far, distant, complete

Examples: telephone – a device to talk to a distant person; telescope – a device to view distant objects; television – a device to receive pictures from a far; telecommuting – working remotely, bridging the distance via virtual devices.


Meaning: land, earth

Examples: extraterrestrial – existing outside the earth; terrain – ground or land; territory – an area of land.


Meaning: god

Examples: monotheism – belief in one god; polytheism – worshiping more than one god; theology – the study of religion, god, etc.


Meaning: beyond, extreme, more than

Examples: ultrahigh – extremely high; ultramodern – more modern than anything else; ultrasonic – sound waves beyond human hearing.


Meaning: city

Examples: suburb – residential area on the edge of a city; urban – relating to a city; urbanology – the study of city life.


Meaning: empty

Examples: evacuate – to empty a dangerous place; vacant – empty, not occupied; vacation – a time without work.


Meaning: word

Examples: verbalize – to put into words; adverb – a word relating to a verb; proverb – a short saying that expresses a well-known truth.

vers, vert

Meaning: turn

Examples: reverse – to turn around; introvert – being turned towards the inside; version – a variation of an original; controversy – a conversation in which positions are turned against each other.


Meaning: acting in place of, next in rank

Examples: vice-president – the person next in rank to the president.


Meaning: conquer

Examples: convince – to win someone over; invincible – not able to be conquered; victory – the conquest of an enemy.

vis, vid

Meaning: see

Examples: vision – the ability to see; envision – to picture in the mind; evident – clearly visible.


Meaning: live, life

Examples: revival – the act of bringing back to life; vital – pertaining to live; vivacious – high-spirited and full of life.


Meaning: voice, call

Examples: advocate – to speak in favor of; equivocate – to use misleading language that could be interpreted two different ways; vocalize – to produce with your voice.

vor, vour

Meaning: eat

Examples: carnivorous – meat-eating; voracious – desiring or eating food in great quantities; devour – to eat quickly.


Meaning: foreign

Examples: xenoblast, xenon – A colourless odourless inert gaseous element occurring in the earth’s atmosphere in trace amounts, xenogamy, xenophobic – afraid of foreigners; xenogenesis – the creation of offspring that is completely different from either parent; xenophile – attracted to foreigners.


Meaning: wood

Examples: xylem – The woody part of plants: the supporting and water-conducting tissue, consisting primarily of tracheids and vessels, xylocarp; xyloid- resembling wood; xylophone-an organ percussion stop of similar tone quality.


Meaning: animal, animal life, living being

Examples: zoology – study of animals; zooid – one of the distinct individuals forming a colonial animal such as a bryozoan or hydrozoan; zooplankton – animal constituent of plankton; mainly small crustaceans and fish larvae.


Meaning: a pair, yoke

Examples: heterozygous – having dissimilar alleles at corresponding chromosomal loci, zygote – a cell formed by the union of two gametes and the organism developing from that; zygomorphic – capable of division into symmetrical halves by only one longitudinal plane passing through the axis.

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