Many of the words we use come from a root word. Once you pull off any prefixes or suffixes, the root will be normally what remains. A little digging will uncover just what the root really means. For example, in a word such as scissors, the root is sciss, which means cut.
Some examples of root words can be found in everyday language. The root for bicycle would be cycle and the root for transactions would be act. More root words can be found in academic and scientific language, for example, the root of heterogeneous would be hetero.
There are many root words that can be used on their own or as parts of other common words in the English language. These are also referred to as base words. The following root words are provided with their meaning and, in italics, an example of the root as part of another word:
Some root words aren’t full words but form the basis of many different words. Here are a few examples or partial root words:
By knowing different root words, you may be able to understand what a word means even if you don’t know the word, since the meaning can be derived from a combination of the root words. For example, therm means heat. Once you know that it will help you work out what thermal or thermometer mean.
Be careful though, some root words make less sense. Take the word apology. The root word logos means speech, and apo means from or off. So, if you interpret the meaning of apology based on root words alone, you might think that it means "away from speech." Not a very good explanation for a word that is used to express regret or remorse. So, knowing the meaning of the roots can help you in gerneral but it won't always provide you with a clear definition.
Whether talking with friends or reading a book, you're constantly bombarded with root words. Here are some more examples of roots, their meanings and other words that are formed by adding prefixes and/or suffixes to these language building blocks:
Every root word has a meaning and that meaning corresponds to the new word made from it.
In the English language, root words are generally derived from either Latin and Greek. So, in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Tula’s father may have been right when he said “Give me a word, any word, and I'll show you that the root of that word is Greek.”
A root word is a word or part of a word which can form the basis of new words, through the addition of prefixes and suffixes. Understanding the meanings of common word roots can therefore help you work out the meanings of new words when you come across them.
Remember, root words can have more than one meaning when combined with affixes and sometimes words that look similar may come from different roots. The easiest place to find the root for a longer word would be here on YourDictionary.com. By searching the longer word and the root word in a dictionary, or one of the specialty reference resources on YourDictionary.com, you can learn the definition and where the word came from.