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Latin Word Roots


At Spellzone, we often talk about how one of the reasons English is such a difficult language to learn is because it has roots all over the world. Once you take this into consideration, however, you can begin to look out for word patterns.

Many English words come from Latin origins. Word roots are useful for both figuring out how to spell a word, and figuring out what it might mean.

For example if you know that the Latin prefix ‘ab’ means ‘away from’ in English, you can work out that ‘abnormal’ might describe something that is ‘away from what is normal’.

Or if you know that the Latin ‘cent’ refers to a ‘hundred’, it makes sense to assume that the words ‘percent’, ‘centenary’, and ‘century’ are associated with the number too.

Let’s take a look at some common Latin roots:

Root
(click on link for spelling list)
What does it mean? What are some examples
in English?
ced/cess go accede
access
antecedent
cease
concede
concession
decease
exceed
intercede
precede
precedent
proceed
recede
recession
secede
succeed
cap/cip/capt/cept hold/take perception
captive
capture
conception
deception
exceptional
interception
misconception
perceptive
reception
receptive
recipient
susceptible
cred believe/trust incredible
credit
accredited
credentials
credible
incredulous
discredit
corp body corporation
corporeal
corps
corpse
incorporate
corpus
corpulent
corpuscle
corporal
dict say/speak abdicate
contradict
dictate
dictation
dictator
diction
dictionary
edict
indicate
indict
jurisdiction
predict
verdic
duc/duct lead abduct
conduct
conductor
deduction
ductile
educate
induction
introduce
productive
flect/flex bend deflect
flexible
inflection
reflection
reflex
form shape conformity
deformity
formation
reformatory
frag/frac break fraction
fracture
fragile
fragment
frail
infraction
refract
ject throw dejected
eject
injection
object
objective
project
projectile
reject
subject
trajectory
lum/luc light illuminated
illustrate
illustrious
lucid
luminary
luminous
translucent
man hand emancipate
manage
mandate
manicure
manifest
manipulate
manoeuvre
manual
manufacture
memor remember commemorate
memory
memoir
memorial
mort death immortal
mortality
mortician
mortified
mortuary
ped foot biped
centipede
impede
orthopaedist
pedal
peddler
pedestal
pedestrian
pedicure
pedometer
pel/pul to drive compel
compulsion
dispel
expel
impulse
pellet
propel
pulsate
repellent
repulsive
pend to hang appendage
appendix
depend
dependent
expend
impending
pendant
pending
pendulum
propensity
stipend
suspend
sens/sent feel/perceive assent
consensus
consent
dissension
insensitive
resent
scent
sensation
sense
sensible
sensitive
sensory
sensuous
sentient
sentiment
sentinel
sentry
tract pull abstract
attractive
contract
distract
extract
intractable
protract
retraction
subtract
traction
tractor
vers/vert turn adversary
controversy
diversion
subvert
convert
converse
reversible
vertebra
diverse
traverse
inverse
versus
avert
viv live revive
survive
vivacious
vivid
convivial
voc call advocate
equivocal
evocative
evoke
invocation
provoke
revoke
vocal
vocation

These, of course, are only a few of the many Latin roots that have become parts of English words. You can read a full Wikipedia list of Latin word roots here.

Do make sure to also check out our previous blog posts on Latin expressions used in English here and here, where we look at the definitions of widely used phrases such as ‘etcetera’, ‘ad hoc’, and ‘de jure’.

Next week we’ll take a look at some common Greek word roots – until then, have a good week!


29 May 2014
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