Root Words & Prefixes: Quick Reference
Link Root word Meanings Origin Examples and Definitions
a/n not, without Greek abyss – without bottom; achromatic – without color; anhydrous – without water
a on Latin afire – on fire; ashore – on the shore; aside – on the side
a, ab/s from, away, off Latin abduct – carry away by force; abnormal – away from normal, not normal; absent – away, not present; aversion – the act of turning away from; abbreviate: to shorten.
a/c/d to, toward, near Latin

accelerate – to increase the speed of; accessible – easily entered, approached, or obtained; admittance – allowing into;

acro top, height, tip, beginning Greek

acrobat – a “high walker”; acronym – a word formed from the first (capital) letters of a word; acrophobia – fear of height

act do Latin activity – something that a person does; react – to do something in response; interaction – communication between two or more things
aer/o air Greek aerate – to let air reach something; aerial – relating to the air; aerospace – the air space
agr/i/o farming Latin


agriculture – management of the land, agribusiness – making money by utilizing land; agrarian – relating to the management of land
alg/o pain Latin neuralgia – pain caused by a nerve; analgesic – a drug that makes one pain free; nostalgia – aching for the familiar
ambi, amphi both, on both sides, around Latin ambidextrous – able to use both hands equally; ambiguous – having more than one meaning; ambivalence – conflicting or opposite feelings toward a person or thing
ambul walk, move Latin amble – to walk in a slow, relaxed way; ambulant – walking or moving around; ambulance – a vehicle that moves a patient
ami/o love Latin amiable – friendly, pleasant, lovable; amity – friendly and peaceful relations; amorous – showing romantic love
ana up, back, against,

again, throughout

Greek analysis – a close examination of something; anatomy – the structure of something as visible when cut up for analysis; anachronism – not being in the right place in time
andr/o man, male Greek androgynous – being both male and female; android – resembling a human; misandry – hatred towards men
anim life, spirit Latin animal – a living organism; animate – to make alive; equanimity – of balanced spirit
ann/enn year Latin anniversary – a date observed once a year; annual – happening once a year; millennium – 1,000 years
ante before, in front Latin antecede – to come before something in time; antemeridian – before noon; anteroom- a small room before the main room
anth/o flower Greek chrysanthemum and amaranth – names of flowers; anthology – a collection of treasured writings; anthozoan – half plant, half animal, like anemones and corals.
anthrop/o human Greek anthropology – the study of mankind; anthropomorphism – giving human form to non-human things; philanthropy – the love to mankind (expressed through good deeds)
anti against, opposite of Greek antibody – a substance that destroys micro-organisms; antiseptic – preventing infection; antisocial – opposing social norm
apo, apho away, off, separate Greek aphorism – a short expression of a general truth; apology – an explicit expression of regret, apostrophe – a small dash used in place of an omitted letter
aqu/a water Latin aquarium – a water container for fish; aquatic- relating to water; aqueduct – a pipeline for water
arbor tree Latin arborist – someone working with trees; arbor – a shady area formed by trees; arborous – having many trees
arch/i chief, most important, rule Greek archbishop – the highest ranking bishop; archenemy – chief or worst enemy; matriarch – a female who rules a group; monarch – a king or queen
arch/a/i primitive, ancient Greek archaeology – the study of ancient cultures; archaic – belonging to an earlier period; archive – a collection of historical materials
arthr/o joint Latin


arthroscope – a tool to see inside a joint; arthritis – inflammation of a joint; arthropod – invertebrates with jointed legs, like spiders, crustaceans, insects
art skill Latin artifact – object made by a person’s skill; artisan – a person skilled in a craft; artist – a person who creates skillfully


star, stars, outer space Greek astronaut – a person traveling to the stars; astronomer – someone who studies the stars; asterisk – a star-shaped sign used as a reference tool
aud/i/io hear Latin audible – loud enough to be heard; audience – people who listen to a program; audiovisual – relating to sound and vision
auto self, same, one Greek autocrat – a person who governs with absolute power; autograph – a person’s own signature; automatic – moving by itself
avi/a bird Latin aviary – a large enclosure for birds; aviatrix – a female airplane pilot; aviation – the art of designing or operating aircraft
bar/o pressure, weight Greek baric – pertaining to pressure, esp. of the atmosphere; milliard – metric unit, equal to 1/1000th of a bar; baryon – heavy elementary particle
bell/i war Latin bellicose – warlike; belligerent – hostile, ready to fight; rebel – person who opposes and fights
bene good, well Latin benefactor – person who gives money to a cause; beneficial – producing a good effect; benevolent – showing kindness or goodwill
bi/n two, twice, once in every two Latin biannual – happening twice a year; binoculars – optical device with two lenses; bilateral – of or involving two sides
bibli/o book Greek bibliography – a list of books used as sources; bibliomania – an extreme love of books; bibliophile – a person who loves books
bio life, living matter Greek biography- a life story written by another person; biology – the science of life; biosphere – Earth’s surface inhabited by living things
blast/o cell, primitive, immature cell Greek blastula – an early stage of embryonic development; fibroblast – a cell that forms connective tissue; blastoderm – the layer surrounding the inside of an egg
burs pouch, purse Latin bursar- an administrative officer in charge of funds; bursary- the treasury of a college or monastery; disburse- to expend especially from a public fund
calc stone Latin calcite; calcium- the flame of acetylene gas generated by reaction of calcium carbide with water; calcification- impregnation with calcareous matter
cand glowing, iridescent Latin candid- free from bias, prejudice, or malice; candle- something that gives light; incandescent- white, glowing, or luminous with intense heat
capt, cept, ceive take, hold Latin intercept – to stop or interrupt;

perceive – to take notice of something; captivating – taking hold of

cardi/o heart Greek cardiac – relating to the heart; cardiogenic – resulting from heart disease; cardiologist – a heart doctor
carn/i flesh, meat Latin carnivorous – flesh-eating; carnal – pertaining to the body or flesh; incarnate – given bodily form
cata down, against

completely, intensive,

according to

Greek cataclysm – a flood or other disaster, catalog – a complete listing; catastrophe – turning for the worst, a substantial disaster


to burn Latin


cauterize – to burn with a hot instrument; caustic – capable of burning or eating away; holocaust – total devastation, especially by fire




go, yield Latin

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

celer fast Latin accelerate – to increase the speed of; decelerate – to reduce the speed of
cent/i hundred, hundredth Latin centennial- the 100th anniversary; centimeter – 1/100 of a meter; century – 100 years
centr/o/i center Greek egocentric – self-centered; eccentric – not having a common center, not according to norm; centrifugal – moving outward from a center
cephal/o head Greek encephalitis – inflammation of the brain; cephalic – pertaining to the head; cephalopod – marine mollusks like octopus and squid who have tentacles growing from their head
cerebr/o brain Latin cerebral – pertaining to the brain; cerebrate – to use the brain; cerebrospinal – pertaining to the brain and the spinal cord
cert sure Latin ascertain- to find out something with certainty; certain – being absolutely sure; certify – to state that something is true
chrom/o chromat/o, chros color, pigment Greek achromatic – without color; chromium – a blue-white metallic chemical element, chromatics – the study of color
chron/o time Greek chronic – lasting for a long time; chronological – arranging events in time order, synchronize – happening at the same time
chrys/o gold, yellow Greek chrysanthemum and helichrysum – golden/yellow flowers; chrysolite – a yellowish gem
cide, cise cut, kill Latin homicide – murder; incisor – a sharp tooth for cutting food; insecticide – a chemical used to kill insects


around, about Latin circumnavigate – to sail around; circumscribe – to draw around; circumspect – looking around
claim, clam shout, speak out Latin clamor – to shout and make noise; exclaim – to cry out loudly and suddenly; proclamation – something announced officially in public
clar clear Latin clarification – an explanation; clarify – to make something clear; declare – to state something clearly
clud, clus close Latin conclusion – the end or last part; exclusion – shutting out, rejecting; seclude – to keep away from; to isolate
cline lean Latin inclination – a leaning toward; incline – a surface that slopes or leans; recline – to lean back and relax
co with, together, joint Latin coauthor – writer who collaborates with another author; coeducation – educating males and females together; cohousing – planning your neighborhood in an intentional neighborly fashion
col together, jointly Latin Collaborate – to work together; collision – smashing together; colloquial – words formed by everday interaction
com together, common Latin commemorate – to memorize together; composition – an arrangement or putting together of parts; commune – living together while owning things in common
cogn/i know Latin cognition – process of acquiring knowledge; incognito – disguised so no one knows you; recognize – to discover that one knows
con with, jointly Latin concur – to agree with someone; contemporary – of the same time period as others; convention – a gathering of people with a common interest
contra/o against, opposite Latin contradict to argue against, Contraflow, contraception, contrary not in agreement, controversy disagreement
corp/o body Latin corporation – a company recognized by law as a single body; corpse – a dead body; corporal – pertaining to the body
cosm/o universe Greek cosmonaut – a Russian astronaut; cosmos – the universe; microcosm – a miniature universe
counter opposite, contrary, opposing counteract – to oppose the effects of an action; countermand – to cancel a previous order; counteroffensive – attack against an attack
cranio skull Greek craniology – the study of skull characteristics; cranium – skull of vertebrates; cranial – pertaining to the skull
cred believe Latin credence – belief that something is true or valid; credulous – believing things too easily, gullible; incredible – unbelievable
cruc cross Latin crucial-characteristic of or having the form of a cross ; crucifix- the cross itself as a Christian emblem; excruciating- so intense as to cause great pain or anguish
crypto hidden, secret Greek cryptic – of hidden meaning; cryptography – science of secret codes; encrypt – encode into secret code
cumul mass, heap Latin accumulate – to gather or pile up; cumulative – gradually building up
curr, curs run Latin concurrent- running parallel; current- flowing easily and smoothly; cursive- having a flowing, easy, impromptu character
cycl circle, ring Greek bicycle – a vehicle with two wheels; cycle – a sequence that is repeated; cyclone – a storm with circling winds
de reduce, away, down, remove Latin decelerate – to slow down, reduce speed; dethrone – to remove from power; debug – to remove bugs


ten Greek decade – 10 years; decathlon – athletic contest that includes 10 disciplines in which each participant competes; December – formerly the 10th month of the Roman calendar
deci one tenth Latin deciliter – a tenth of a liter; decimate – reduce dramatically; decibel – one tenth of the sound volume unit bel
dem/o people Greek democracy – government of the people; demographic – the study of people; epidemic – spreading among people in a region
demi half, less than Latin demitasse – a small cup of coffee; demimonde – someone of little respected life style
dendr/o/i tree Greek philodendron – a climbing plant that grows on trees; dendrochronology – dating events by studying growth rings in trees; dendriform – in the shape of a tree
dent, dont tooth Latin dental – relating to teeth; dentist – a doctor for the teeth; dentures – a set of false teeth
derm/a skin Greek dermatologist – a doctor for the skin; pachyderm – a class of animals with very thick skin (elephant, rhinoceros); dermatitis – inflammation of the skin
di/plo two, twice Greek dichromatic – displaying two colors; diploma – a certificate, literally “a letter folded double”; dilemma – a situation that requires a choice between two alternatives.
di/s apart, away,

not, to the opposite

Latin digression – a departure from the main issue, subject; disappear – to move out of sight; dissect – to cut apart piece by piece.
dia through, between,

apart, across

Greek diabetes – disease characterized by excessive thirst and discharge of urine; diagnosis – understanding a condition by going through a detailed review of symptoms; dialog – conversation between two people.
dict speak Latin contradict – to express the opposite of; prediction – a statement foretelling the future; dictate – to speak out loud for another person to write down.
domin master Latin dominate – to be the master of; domineering – excessively controlling; predominate – to have more power than others
don/at give Latin donation – a contribution or gift; donor – someone who gives something; pardon – to give forgiveness for an offense
duc/t lead Latin conduct – to lead musicians in playing music; educate – to lead to knowledge; deduction – a subtraction of an amount.
du/o two, twice Latin duplicate – make an identical copy; duet – a musical composition for two voices or instruments; duo – a pair normally thought of as being together.
dur harden, to last, lasting Latin durable – having the quality of lasting; duration – the length of time something lasts; enduring – able to last.
dyn/a/am power, energy, strength Greek dynamo – a generator of energy; dynamic – having physical energy/power; dynamite – a powerful explosive.
dys abnormal, bad Greek dyspepsia – abnormal digestion; dystopia – an imaginary place of total misery; dyslexia – impairment of the ability to handle words.
e- out, away Latin eloquent – speaking beautifully and forcefully; emissary – a representative of a country or group sent on a mission; eject – throw out forcefully.
ego self Latin


egoistic – self-centered; alter ego – a higher aspect of oneself; egomania – excessive preoccupation with oneself.
em, en into, cover with, cause empathy – intention to feel like another person; empower – put into power; engorge – make larger.
endo within, inside Greek 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.
enn/i, anni years Latin bicentennial – of or relating to an age or period of 200 years; centennial – of or relating to an age or period of 100 years; perennial -lasting through many years.
en, in inside, inwards Latin envision – to picture in the mind; enclose – lock inside; inwards – towards the inside.
ep/i on, upon, over,

among, at, after,

to, outside

Greek epidemic – the rapid spread of something negative; epilogue – a short speech delivered after a play; epicenter – the center of an earthquake.
equ/i equal, equally Latin equidistant – an equal distance from two points; equanimity – calm temperament, evenness of temper; equation – a statement of equality.
erg/o work Greek ergonomics – study of the working environment; energy – the power to accomplish work; energetics – science that looks at energy and its transformation.
esth/aesth feeling, sensation, beauty Latin esthetician – someone who beautifies; aesthetic – pertaining to a sense of beauty; kinesthesia – the sensation of bodily movement.
ethno race, people Greek ethnic – pertaining to a defined group of people; ethnocentric – focusing on the ethnicity of people; ethnology – the science of people and races.
eu good, well Greek euphemism – replacing an offensive word with an inoffensive one; euphonious – having a pleasant sound; euphoria – feeling of well-being.
ex from, out, Latin excavate – to dig out; exhale – to breathe out; extract – to pull out.
extra, extro outside, beyond Latin extraordinary – beyond ordinary; extraterrestrial – outside the Earth; extrovert – an outgoing person.
fac/t make, do Latin artifact – an object made by a person; factory – a place where things are made; malefact – a person who does wrong.
fer bear, bring, carry Latin confer – to bring an honor to someone; ferry – a boat that carries passengers; transfer – to move to another place.
fid faith Latin confide – place trust in someone, fidelity – faithfulness; fiduciary – a trustee;
flect bend Latin deflect – to bend course because of hitting something; inflection – a bending in the voice’s tone or pitch; flexible – easily bending.


flower Latin florist – someone working with flowers; floral – flowerlike; flora – the plant life of a particular time or area
for completely (used to intensify

the meaning of a word)

forsaken or forfeited – completely lost; forgiven – completely given (a release of debt).
fore in front of, previous, earlier forebear – ancestor; forebode – to give an advance warning of something bad; forecast – a preview of events to be.
form shape Latin conformity- correspondence in form, manner, or character; formation- something that is formed; reformatory- intended for reformation
fract, frag break Latin fracture – a break; fragile – easy to break; fragment or fraction – a part or element of a larger whole;
fug flee, run away, escape Latin fugitive – a person who is running away; refuge – a sheltered place to flee to; refugee – a person seeking protection
funct perform, work Latin defunct – no longer working or alive; function – to work or perform a role normally; malfunction – to fail to work correctly.
fus pour Latin confusion – being flooded with too much information that is hard to make sense of; fuse – to melt by heating; infuse – to put into.
gastr/o stomach Greek gastric – pertaining to the stomach; gastronomy – serving the stomach by providing good food; gastritis – inflammation of the stomach.


birth, production,

formation, kind

Greek 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.
geo earth, soil, global Greek geography – study of the earth’s surface; geology – study of the structure of the earth; geoponics – soil based agriculture.
ger old age Greek geriatrics – medicine pertaining to the elderly; gerontocracy – the rule of the elders; gerontology – the science of aging.
giga a billion Greek gigabyte – unit of computer storage space; gigahertz – unit of frequency (one billion Hz/sec); gigawatt unit of electric power (one billion watts).
gon angle Latin


decagon – a polygon with 10 angles; diagonal – a slanting line running across a space; octagon – a geometrical figure with 8 angles.
gram letter, written Greek diagram – a simple drawing; grammar – rules of how to write words in sentences; telegram – a message sent by telegraph.
gran grain Latin granary- a storehouse or repository for grain especially after it is threshed or husked; granola- a mixture of rolled oats and other ingredients; granule- a little grain (as of sugar)
graph/y writing, recording, written Greek Graphology – the study of handwritings; autograph – written with one’s own hand; seismograph – a machine noting strength and duration of earthquakes.
grat pleasing Latin gratify – to please someone; grateful – feeling thankful; gratuity – a tip, token of appreciation.
gyn/o/e woman, female Greek gynecology – the science of female reproductive health; gynephobia – fear of women; gynecoid – resembling a woman.
gress, grad/e/i to step, to go Latin digression – a departure from the main issue, subject, etc.; progress – movement forward or onward; gradual – step by step.
hect/o, hecat hundred Greek hectoliter – 100 liters; hectare – metric unit equaling 100 ares or 10,000 square meters; hectometer – 100 meters.
helic/o spiral, circular Greek helicopter – an aircraft with horizontal rotating wing; helix – a spiral form; helicon – a circular tuba.
heli/o sun Greek 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.
hemi half, partial Greek hemicycle – a semicircular structure; hemisphere – one half of the earth; hemistich – half a line of poetry.
hem/o/a blood Latin


hemorrhage – clotting of the blood; hemorrhoids – swelling of the blood vessels; hemoglobin – red blood particle.
hepa liver Latin hepatitis – inflammation of the liver; hepatoma – a tumor of the liver; hepatotoxic – toxic and damaging to the liver.
hept/a seven Greek heptagon – a shape with seven angles and seven sides; Heptateuch – the first seven books of the Old Testament; heptameter – a line of verse consisting of seven metrical feet.
herbi grass, plant Latin herbicide – any chemical used to kill unwanted plants, etc.; herbivorous – plant-eating; herbal – relating to plants.
hetero different, other Greek heterogeneous – made up of unrelated parts; heteronyms – words with same spelling but different meanings; heterodox – not conforming to traditional beliefs.
hex/a six Greek hexagon – a shape with six angles/sides; hexameter – a verse measured in six; hexapod – having six legs.
histo tissue Greek histology – study of the microscopic structure of tissues; histochemistry – study of the chemical constitution of cells and tissues.


like, alike, same Latin


homogeneous – of the same nature or kind; homonym – sounding alike; homeopath – a therapy that is based on treating “same with same”
hydr/o liquid, water Greek 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.
hygr/o moisture, humidity Greek hygrometer – tool used to measure humidity; hygrograph – instrument for recording variations in atmospheric humidity.
hyper too much, over,

excessive, beyond



hyperactive – very restless; hypercritical – too critical; hypertension – above normal pressure.
hyp/o under Greek hypoglycemia – an abnormally low level of sugar in the blood; hypothermia – abnormally low body temperature; hypothesis – a theory that is unproven but used under the assumption that it is true.
iatr/o medical care Greek geriatrics – medical care of the elderly; pediatrician – a doctor who treats children; podiatry – medical care for feet.
icon/o image Latin


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.
idio peculiar, personal, distinct Greek 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.
il, in in, into Latin illuminate – to give light to; innovation – a new idea, method, or device; inspection – the act of examining or reviewing.
ig, il, im,

in, ir

not, without Latin illegal – not legal; impossible – not possible; inappropriate – not appropriate; irresponsible – not responsible.
imag likeness Latin image – a likeness of someone; imaginative – able to think up new ideas or images; imagine – to form a picture or likeness in the mind.
infra beneath, below Latin infrastructure – underlying framework of a system; infrared – below the regular light spectrum.
inter between, among, jointly Latin international – involving two or more countries; intersection – place where roads come together; intercept – to stop or interrupt the course of.


within, inside Latin intrastate – existing in one state; intravenous – inside or into a vein; introvert – shy person who keeps within him/herself.
ir not Latin irredeemable – not redeemable; irreformable – not reformable; irrational – not rational.
iso equal isobar – a line on a map connecting points of equal barometric pressure; isometric – having equality of measure; isothermal – having equal or constant temperature.
ject throw Latin eject – to throw someone/something out; interject – to throw a remark into a discussion; project – to cast or throw something.
jud law Latin 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.
junct join Latin conjunction – a word that joins parts of sentences; disjunction – a disconnection; junction – a place where two things join.
juven young Latin juvenile – youthful or childish; rejuvenate – to bring back to youthful strength or appearance.
kilo thousand Greek kilobyte – 1,000 bytes; kilometer – 1,000 meter; kilograms – 1,000 grams.


motion, division Greek kinetics – study of the force of motion; psychokinesis or telekinesis – the ability to move objects with your mind; cinematography – motion picture making.
lab work Latin collaborate – to work with a person; elaborate – to work out the details; laborious – requiring a lot of hard work.
lact/o milk Latin lactate – to give milk, nurse; lactose – the sugar contained in milk; lactic acid.
later side Latin bilateral – of or involving two sides; unilateral – affecting one side of something.


white, colorless Greek leukemia – abnormal increase of white blood cells in the blood; leukocyte – a mature white blood cell; leucine – a white, crystalline amino acid.
lex word, law, reading Greek lexicology – the study and history of words; alexia -loss of the ability to read; illegal – not authorized by the official rules or laws.
liber free Latin liberate – to set free; libertine – a person with a free, wild lifestyle; liberty – freedom.
lingu language, tongue Latin linguist – one who studies languages; multilingual – able to communicate in multiple languages; linguine – long, flat “tongue-shaped” pasta.
lip/o fat Greek liposuction – the mechanical removal of fat reserves in the tissue; lipase – enzyme that breaks down fat; lipoid – resembling fat.
lite, ite,


mineral, rock, fossil Greek apatite – a group of common minerals; granite – a hard, granular rock; monolith – a remarkable, unique stone.
loc place Latin dislocate – to put something out of its usual place; location – a place; relocate – to move to a new place.
log/o word, doctrine, discourse Greek logic – correct reasoning; monologue – a long speech by one speaker;analogy – similarity, especially between things otherwise dissimilar.
loqu, locu speak Latin eloquent – speaking beautifully and forcefully ; loquacious – very talkative; elocution – art of public speaking.
luc light Latin elucidate – to explain, to throw light on; lucid – easily understood, giving off light; translucent – allowing light through.
lud, lus to play Latin prelude – introduction to the major performance; illusion – misleading optical image or impression; delude – to mislead, deceive.
lumin light Latin illuminate – to fill with light; lumen – unit measuring light.
lun/a/i moon Latin lunar – relating to the moon; lunarscape – the surface of the moon; lunatic – insane (as if driven mad by the moon).
macro large, great Greek macroevolution – large scale evolution; macromolecule – a large molecule; macroeconomics – study of the overall forces of economy.
magn/a/i great, large Latin magnify – make larger; magnificent – grand; magnate – a powerful person, especially in business or industry.
mal/e bad, ill, wrong Latin 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.
man/i/u hand Latin maneuver – to move by hand; manual – done with the hands; manuscript – a book written by hand.
mand to order Latin command – an order or instruction; demand – a hard-to-ignore order; mandate – an official order.
mania madness, insanity,

excessive desire

Greek bibliomania – a crazy love of books; egomania – a mad love of oneself; maniac an insane person.
mar/i sea Latin

marina – a harbor for pleasure boats; maritime – relating to the sea; submarine – an undersea boat; aquamarine – color of sea water.



mother Latin maternal – relating to motherhood; maternity – the state of being a mother; matriarch – a woman head of a household.
max greatest Latin maximal – the best or greatest possible; maximize – to make as great as possible; maximum – the greatest amount.
medi middle Latin medieval – pertaining to the Middle Ages; medium – in the middle; mediocre – only of medium (inferior) quality.
mega great, large, million Greek megalopolis – an area with many nearby cities; megaphone – a device that projects a loud voice; megastructure – huge building or other structure.
melan/o black Greek melancholy – a state of dark emotions; melanoma – malignant dark tumor of the skin; melodrama – a dark, pathetic drama.
memor/i remember Latin commemorate – to honor the memory of, as by a ceremony; memorial – related to remembering a person or event; memory: an ability to retain knowledge or an individual’s stock of retained knowledge.


dip, dive Latin immerge or immerse – to put or dip something into a liquid; submerge to dip something completely into wate.r
meso middle Latin


Mesoamerica – Middle America; meson – elementary particle with a mass between an electron and a proton.
meta change, after, beyond, between Greek metaphysics – study of nature and reality; metamorphosis – a complete change of form; metastasis – the transmission of disease to other parts of the body.


measure Greek audiometer- an instrument that measures hearing acuteness; chronometer- an instrument that measures time; metric – measured.
micro very small, short, minute Greek microbe – a very small living thing; microchip – a tiny wafer with an integrated circuit; microscope – a device to see very small things.
mid middle Latin


midriff – the area between the chest and the waist; midterm – middle of a term in school; midway – halfway between.
migr move Latin immigrant – a person who moves to a new country to settle; migrant – person who moves from place to place; migration – the process of moving.
milli onethousandth Latin millimeter – one thousandth of a meter; millibar – one thousandth of a bar; milliliter – one thousandth of a liter.
min/i small, less Latin mini – something that is very small; minuscule – extremely tiny; minutiae – very small or trivial details.
mis/o bad, badly, wrong, wrongly,

to hate

Greek misbehave – to behave badly; misprint – an error in printing; misnomer – an error in naming a person or thing.
miss, mit send, let go Latin dismiss – to send someone away; missile – a weapon sent into the air; emit – to send something out; admittance – entry.
mob move Latin immobilize – to stop from moving; mobile – able to move freely; mobility – the quality of being able to move.
mon/o one, single, alone Greek monochromat – having one color; monologue – a speech spoken by one person; monotheism – belief in one god.
mot, mov move Latin motion – the act of moving; motivate – to move someone to action; promote to move someone forward; removable – able to be taken or carried away.
morph/o form Greek metamorphosis – complete change of form; endorphins – chemical in the brain able to transform pain; amorphous – without distinct shape or form.
mort death Latin immortal – living forever, unable to die; mortal – certain to die; mortician – an undertaker.
multi many, more than one or two Latin multicolored – having many colors; multimedia – using a range of media; multitasking – doing many things at once.
mut change Latin immutable – not changing; mutant – an organism that has undergone change; mutate – to undergo a change.
my/o muscle Latin myocardium – the middle muscle of the heart; myasthenia – muscle fatigue or weakness; myosin – common protein in muscle tissue.
narr tell Latin narrate – to tell a story; narrative – a story; narrator – a person who tells a story.
nat born Latin innate – included since birth; natal – relating to birth; natural – gotten at birth, not afterward.
nav ship Latin circumnavigate – to sail around a place; naval – relating to a navy or warships; navigate – to sail a ship through a place.
necr/o dead, death Greek necrophil – loving death; necrosis – the death of tissue due to disease or injury; necrology – a list of persons who have recently died.
neg no Latin negate – to say it didn’t happen; negative – meaning “no”; renege – to go back on a promise.
neo new, recent neoclassic – a revival of classic form, neocolonialism – the indirect (“new”) economical and political control of a region by a more powerful foreign power; neonatal – a newborn child, especially the first few weeks.
nephr/o kidney Greek nephritis – inflammation of the kidneys; nephrotomy – surgical incision of a kidney; nephron – a single, excretory unit in the kidney.
neur/o nerve Greek neuralgia – pain along a nerve; neurologist – doctor specializing in the nerves; neurotic – mental disorder that usually does not include an impaired perception of reality.
nom/in name Latin misnomer – an error in naming a person or thing; nominal – being something in name only but not in reality; nominate – to name for election or appointment, to designate.
non no, not, without Latin nondescript – with no special characteristics; nonfiction – true, real, not made-up; nonsense – without sense.
not mark Latin notable – marked as worthy of attention; notarize – to certify a signature on a legal document; annotate – to add remarks.


declare Latin announce – to declare in public; denounce – to proclaim harsh criticism; enunciate – to speak or declare something clearly.
nov new Latin innovate – to introduce a new way; novelty – something new; novice – a person who is new at a job; renovate – to make something like new again.
numer number Latin enumerate – to name a number of items on a list; numerology – the study of magical uses of numbers; numerous – a large number.
ob, op in the way, against Latin object – to be against something; obscure – hard to understand; opposition – the act of resistance or action against.
oct/a/o eight Greek octagon – a figure with 8 sides and 8 angles; octogenarian – person in his or her 80s; octopus – sea animal with 8 arms.
ocu eye Latin binoculars – lens device for seeing distances; monocula – relating to one eye; oculist – an eye doctor.
od path, way Greek diode – an electron tube having two electrodes, a cathode and an anode; odometer – an instrument attached to a vehicle to measure the distance traversed; triode – an electron tube with an anode, a cathode, and a control grid
odor smell, scent Latin deodorant – a substance that helps prevent body odor; malodorous – having a terribly bad smell; odoriferous- something that bears or diffuses a scent
omni all Latin omnipotent – with all the power; omniscient – knowing all things; omnivorous eating all foods.
op/t/s eye, visual condition, sight Greek optic – relating to the eyes; optician – a person who fits eyeglasses; autopsy – the examination of a dead body.
opt best Latin optimal – the best, the most desirable; optimize – to make the best of; optimum – the best something could be.
ortho straight Greek orthodontist – a dentist that straightens teeth; orthopedic – a doctor concerned with the proper alignment of the bones; orthography – the correct way of writing.
osteo bone Greek 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.
out goes beyond,

surpasses, exceeds

Outgoing – being of lively, sharing nature; outdoing – doing better than; outdoor – outside.
over excessive English overconfident – more confident than is appropriate; overstock – more supplies than is desirable; overexcited – ,more excited than one should be.
oxi/oxy sharp Greek oxymoron – combining two ideas that sharply contradict each other; oxidize – corrode a surface.
pale/o ancient Greek paleontology – study of ancient fossils; paleography – the study of ancient forms of writing; Paleolithic – period of the Stone Age.
pan all, any, everyone Greek panacea – a cure for all diseases or problems; panorama – an all-around view; pantheism – the worship of all gods; pandemic – affecting all.
para beside, beyond, abnormal,


Greek parasite – an organism that lives on and off another living being; parallel – alongside and always an equal distance apart; paragraph – a portion of a writtenn document that presents a distinct idea.
para protection from parachute – protection from falling; parasol – an umbrella used to protect from the sun;


father Latin


paternal – relating to fathers; paternity – fatherhood; patriarch – a man who rules a group.
path feeling, emotion antipathy – a feeling of great dislike; apathy – a lack of feeling or interest; empathy – ability to understand another’s feelings.
ped/i/e foot, feet Latin pedal – a lever pushed by the foot; pedestrian – one who walks; pedicure – cosmetic treatment of feet and toes.
pel drive, force Latin compel – to force someone to act; expel – to drive someone out of a place; repel – to force back.
pent/a five Greek pentagon – shape having 5 angles and 5 sides, pentagram – a five-pointed star formerly used as a symbolic figure in magic; pentathlon – an athletic contest that includes five events.


digestion Greek dyspepsia – abnormal digestion; peptic – aiding digestion; pepsin – a digestive enzyme.
per through, throughout Latin permanent – lasting throughout all time; permeate – to spread throughout; persist – to continue for a long time; perennial – lasting through many years.
peri around, enclosing Greek periodontal – pertaining to bone and tissue around a tooth; peripheral – lying outside of the center; perimeter – the outer boundary of an area.
phag/e to eat Greek esophagus – muscular tube that carries food to the stomach; anthropophagy or sarcophagy – cannibalism; xylophagous – feeding on wood.
phil/o love, friend Greek philanthropist – one who loves humanity; philology – the love of words; philosophy – the love of wisdom; bibliophil – loving books.


sound Greek cacophony – loud, unpleasant sounds; microphone – a device that records and amplifies sound; phonetic – relating to human speech sounds.
phot/o light Greek photogenic – caused by light; photograph – image made on light-sensitive film; photon – the smallest possible unit of light.
phyll/o leaf Greek chlorophyll – a group of green pigments found in leaves; phyllotaxis – the arrangement of leaves on a stem; phyllite – a rock that forms sheets, similar to slate.
phys nature, medicine, the body Greek physical – relating to the body; physician – a doctor; physique – nature and shape of one’s body.
phyt/o/e plant, to grow Greek epiphyte – a plant growing independently on the surface of another; hydrophyte – a plant that grows only in water; neophyte – a beginner, especially a person recently converted to a new belief.
plas/t/m to form, development,

forming cells

Greek protoplasm – something that is the first made or formed, also the living portion of a cell; plastic – able to be formed, especially when warm; plaster – a mixture of lime, sand and water that forms a smooth solid covering for walls.
plaud, plod, plaus, plos approve, clap Latin applaud- to show approval of especially by clapping the hands; explosion- an act of exposing something as invalid or baseless; plausible- worthy of being applauded
pneum/o breathing, lung, air, spirit Greek pneumonia – inflammation of the lungs; pneumatic – using the force of air; dyspnea – difficulty breathing.
pod/e foot Greek podiatrist – a doctor for the feet; podium – a small platform to stand on; tripod – a stand or frame with 3 legs.
poli city Greek metropolis – a large city; police – people who work for the government to maintain order in a city; politics – actions of a government or political party.
poly many, more than one Greek polychrome – with many colors; polyglot – a person fluent in many languages; polygon – shape with 3 or more straight sides.
pon place, put Latin opponent – a person who places him/herself against an action, idea, etc.; postpone – to put off doing something.
pop people Latin popular – appealing to a lot of people; population – all of the people who live in a particular area; populist – a supporter of the rights of people.
port carry Latin export – to carry goods out of a place to another; portable – able to be carried; porter – a person who carries luggage.
pos place, put Latin deposit – to place or drop something; expose to place out into the open for all to see; position – the place where someone is.
post after, behind Latin posthumous – after someone’s death; postpone – to delay something; postscript – an addition to an already completed document.
pre earlier, before, in front of Latin preamble – a part in front of a formal document; prepare – to get ready in advance; prediction – a statement foretelling the future.
pro before, in front of,

for, forward



prognosis – a prediction of what will happen; prologue – a passage before the main part; prophet – a person who foretells the future.
prot/o primitive, first, chief Greek prototype – the first of a kind; proton – on of the very basic parts of an atom; protocol – a first draft from which a document is prepared.
pseud/o wrong,false Greek pseudonym – a fictitious name; pseudoscience – theories presumed without proof of a scientific nature; pseudopregnancy – a false pregnancy.
psych/o mind, mental Greek psyche – the human spirit or soul; psychic – relating to the human mind or someone who has supernatural mental abilities; psychology – the study of the mind.


to fight Latin pugnacious – having a quarrelsome or aggressive nature; repugnant – distasteful, offensive or revolting; pungent – piercing.
pul urge compulsion – a very strong urge; expulsion – to someone out; impulsive – having a spontaneous urge to do something.
purg clean Latin purge – remove anything undesirable; purgatory – according to Roman Catholics a place where souls must clean themselves of sin; expurgate – remove objectionable passages from a publication.
put think Latin computer – an electronic thinking device; dispute – to disagree with what another person thinks; input – contribution of one’s thinking.
pyr/o fire, heat Greek pyrotechnics – the art of making fireworks; pyrometer – a thermometer for measuring high temperature; pyretic – relating to or producing fever.
quad/r/ri four Latin quadrant – open space with buildings on 4 sides; quadrennium – period of 4 years; quadruped – a 4-footed animal.
quart fourth Latin quarter – one fourth; quart – a fourth of a gallon; quartet – a musical composition or group involving 4 voices or instruments.
quin/t five, fifth Latin quintett – a composition for 5 voices or instruments; quintessence – pure essence, based on the ancient philosophy that there was a fifth element that was present in all things; quintuple – fivefold.


root Latin 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 radiation, ray radioactive – emitting radiation; radiologist – someone diagnosing or treating via radiation.
ram/i branch Latin ramification – the resulting consequence of a decision; ramify – to spread or branch out; ramus – a branchlike part.
re again, back, backward Latin rebound -to spring back again; rewind – to wind something backward; reaction: a response; recognize: to identify someone or something seen before.
reg guide, rule Latin regent – a person who rules on behalf of a king or queen; regime – a government that rules; regulate – to apply a rule.
retro backward, back Latin retroactive – relating to something in the past; retrogress – to go back to an earlier condition; retrospect – the remembering of past events.
rhin/o nose Greek rhinoceros – a species of animals with a big horn on the snout; rhinoplasty – surgery of the nose; rhinovirus – viruses that are causing the common cold.
rhod/o red Greek 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.
rid laugh Latin deride – to make fun of someone; ridicule – to make fun or mock; ridiculous – silly, causing laughter.


flow, discharge Latin


diarrhea – abnormally excessive bowl movement; hemorrhage – heavy blood flow; catarrh – inflammation of a mucous membrane, especially the nose and throat.
rub red Latin ruby – deep red color and a precious stone of the same color; rubella – measles; bilirubin – reddish pigment in bile.
rupt break, burst Latin bankrupt – unable to pay because you’re “broke”; interrupt – to break into a conversation or event, to disturb; rupture – a break in something.
san health Latin sane – mentally healthy; sanitary – relating to cleanliness and health; sanitation – maintenance of public health and cleanliness.
scend climb, go Latin ascend – to climb upward; crescendo – a climbing up of the volume of music; descend – to go or climb down.
sci know Latin conscience – sense of knowing right from wrong; conscious – knowing what is happening; omniscient – knowing everything.
scler/o hard Greek arteriosclerosis – hardening of the arterial walls; multiple sclerosis – disease which causes the tissue of the brain and spinal cord to harden; sclerometer – instrument for measuring hardness.
scop/e/y see, examine, observe Greek microscope – a device used to see tiny things; periscope – a seeing instrument on a submarine; telescope – a device used to see over a distance.


write, written Latin inscribe – to write letters or words on a surface; scribe – a person who writes out documents; describe – to represent with words or pictures.
se apart Latin secede – to formally break away from; seclude – to keep away from; serum – a liquid isolated out of another.
sect cut Latin dissect – to cut apart piece by piece; intersection – the place or point where two things cross each other; bisect – to cut into two equal parts.
sed, sid, sess sit Latin reside- be stationed; sediment- the matter that settles to the bottom of a liquid; session- an actual or constructive sitting of a body
self of, for, or by itself self-discipline – the ability to discipline yourself; self-respect – respect for yourself; selfish concerned only with your own interests.
semi half, partial Latin semiannual – every half year; semicircle – half a circle; semiconscious – partly conscious; semiannual – every half of a year.
sept/i seven Latin September – this used to be the seventh month in the Roman calendar; septet – a group of seven musicians; septuagenarian – a person in his/her seventies.
serv save, keep Latin conserve – to save or keep something safe; preserve – to save something; reservation – a place kept for a person.
sex six Latin sextet or sextette – a composition or group of six, sextuple – sixfold; sexagenarian – person in his/her sixties.
sol alone Latin desolate – lonely, dismal, gloomy; solitary – done alone, by yourself; solo – a performance done by one person alone.
sol sun Latin solar – involving the sun; parasol – umbrella protecting from the sun; solarium – a room where one is exposed to sun light.
somn/I sleep Latin insomnia – inability to fall asleep; somniloquy – talking in your sleep; somnolent – feeling sleepy.
son sound Latin consonant – a speech sound; sonorous – producing loud, full, rich sounds; supersonic – faster than sound; unison – as one voice.
soph wise Greek philosopher – a wise person; sophisticated – wise about the ways of the world; sophism – a clever but misleading argument.


see, look Latin circumspect – cautious, looking all around; retrospective – a looking back at past things; spectator – a person who sees an event.
sphere ball Greek biosphere – the whole round surface of the earth; hemisphere – half the earth spherically shaped like a ball.
spir breathe Latin inspire – to stimulate or animate; transpire – to give of vapor with waste product through the skin or a membrane; spirit – invisible life force.
sta stand Latin stable – standing steady and firm; stagnant – standing still, not moving; stationary – at a standstill, fixed.
stell star Latin constellation – a group of stars that forms a pattern; interstellar – between the stars; stellar – relating to stars.
struct build Latin construct – to build; destruction – the act of destroying something that was built; structure – something built; infrastructure – underlying framework of a system.
sub under, lower than,

inferior to

Latin submarine – an underwater boat; submerge – to put underwater; substandard – inferior to accepted standards.
sum highest Latin sum – the combined total of everything; summation – the total, highest amount; summit the highest point or top.
super higher in quality

or quantity

Latin Super bowl – the final annual football game; superior – above average, better in quality; supersonic – faster than the speed of sound.


together, with, same Greek symmetry -similarity in size, form or arrangement; synergy – the combined effect; synchronize – to cause to occur at the same time.
tact, tang touch Latin contact – a state in which two things touch; tactile – relating to the sense of touch; tangible – able to be touched; intact – with nothing missing.
tax/o arrangement Greek syntax – the systematic arrangement of words; taxonomy – the science of classification; ataxia – loss of the ability to coordinate muscle action.
techno technique, skill Greek technology – the practical application of knowledge; technocracy – rule of technology; technologically – characterized by technology.
tel/e/o far, distant, complete Greek telephone – a device to talk to a distant person; telescope – a device to view distant objects; television – a device to receive pictures from afar; telecommuting – working remotely, bridging the distance via virtual devices.
temp/or time Latin contemporary- existing at the same time; temporal – relating to time; temporary – lasting for a limited time.
ten, tin, tent hold Latin continent- serving to restrain or limit; detention- the act or fact of detaining, tenacious- having parts or elements strongly adhering to each other
ter, trit rub Latin attrition- the act of rubbing together or wearing down; detritus- a product of disintegration or wearing away; trite- used or occurring so often as to have lost interest, freshness, or force
term/ina end, limit Latin determine – to find something out at the end of an investigation; terminate – to end; exterminate – to destroy or get rid of completely.
terr/a/i land, earth Latin extraterrestrial – existing outside the earth; terrain – ground or land; territory – an area of land.
tetra four Latin tetrapod – having 4 legs; tetrarchy – government by 4 rulers; tetrose – a monosaccharide with four carbon atoms.
the put Greek bibliotheca- a list or catalog of books; theme- a proposition for discussion or argument; thesis- a dissertation embodying results of original research and especially substantiating a specific view
the/o god Greek monotheism – belief in one god; polytheism – worshiping more than one god; theology – the study of religion, god, etc.
therm/o heat Greek thermal – relating to heat; thermos – an insulated jar that keeps heat in; thermostat – a device that controls heat.
tort twist Latin contortion – a twisted shape or position; distort – to alter the shape or condition of; retort – reply in a manner that is supposed to change the effect of something previously said.
tox poison Latin detoxification – the process of removing poisons; toxic – poisonous; toxicology – the study of poisons; intoxicated – influenced by drugs.
tract pull, drag Latin attract – to pull objects nearer; distract – to drag attention away from something; tractor – a motor vehicle that pulls things.
trans across,beyond, through Latin transcontinental – across the continent; transfer – to move from one place to another; transport – to carry something across a space.
tri three, once in every three,




triangle – a figure with 3 sides and 3 angles; triathlon – an athletic contest with 3 events; tricycle – a 3-wheeI vehicle with pedals.
ultra beyond, extreme, more than Latin ultrahigh – extremely high; ultramodern – more modern than anything else; ultrasonic – sound waves beyond human hearing.
un not,opposite of, lacking Latin unabridged – not shortened; unfair – opposite of fair; unfriendly – lacking friendliness.
uni one, single Latin unicycle – a vehicle with one wheel; unilateral – decided by only one person or nation; unique – the only one of its kind; unison – as one voice.
urb city Latin suburb – residential area on the edge of a city; urban – relating to a city; urbanology – the study of city life.
vac empty Latin evacuate – to empty a dangerous place; vacant – empty, not occupied; vacation – a time without work.
ven/t come Latin circumvent – to go around or bypass restrictions; convention – a gathering or assembly of people with a common interest; intervene – to come between.
ver/I truth Latin veracious – truthful, honest; veracity – the truth; verify – to make sure that something is true.
verb word Latin verbalize – to put into words; adverb – a word relating to a verb; proverb – a short saying that expresses a well-known truth.


turn Latin 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.
vice acting in place of,

next in rank

Latin vice-president – the person next in rank to the president
vid see Latin evident clearly seen


conquer Latin convince – to win someone over; invincible – not able to be conquered; victory – the conquest of an enemy.
vis, vid see Latin vision – the ability to see; envision – to picture in the mind; evident – clearly visible.


live, life Latin revival – the act of bringing back to life; vital – pertaining to live; vivacious – high-spirited and full of life.
voc/i voice, call Latin advocate – to speak in favor of; equivocate – to use misleading language that could be interpreted two different ways; vocalize – to produce with your voice.
vol/i/u wish, will Latin benevolent – showing good will and kindness; volition – the act of making a choice or decision, voluntary – resulting from your own free will.


eat Latin carnivorous – meat-eating; voracious – desiring or eating food in great quantities; devour – to eat quickly.
xanth yellow Latin xanthium- a genus of coarse and rough or spiny herbs; xanthochromia- yellowish discoloration (as of the skin or cerebrospinal fluid); xanthogenic
xen/o foreign Greek xenophobic – afraid of foreigners; xenogenesis – the creation of offspring that is completely different from either parent; xenophile – attracted to foreigners.
xer/o/I dry Greek xerophyte – a plant that grows in dry climate; xerography – a dry photocopying process; xeric – requiring small amounts of moisture.
xyl wood Greek xylocarp; xyloid- resembling wood; xylophone-an organ percussion stop of similar tone quality
zo/o animal life Greek zoology – study of animals; zooid – resembling an animal; zooplankton – minute floating aquatic animals.
zyg/o pair Greek zygote – a cell formed by the union of two gametes and the organism developing from that; zygomorphic – pertaining to organisms that can be divided into symmetrical halves along one axis only.

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