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Home School Made Easy!

Some common Greek and Latin roots:

 Root (source) Meaning English words

 aster, astr (G) star astronomy, astrology

 audi (L) to hear audible, auditorium

 bene (L) good, well benefit, benevolent

 bio (G) life biology, autobiography

 dic, dict (L) to speak dictionary, dictator

 fer (L) to carry transfer, referral

 fix (L) to fasten fix, suffix, affix

 geo (G) earth geography, geology

 graph (G) to write graphic, photography

 jur, just (L) law jury, justice

 log, logue (G) word, thought,
speech monolog(ue), astrology, biology, neologism

 luc (L) light lucid, translucent

 manu (L) hand manual, manuscript

 meter, metr (G) measure metric, thermometer

 op, oper (L) work operation, operator

 path (G) feeling pathetic, sympathy, empathy

 ped (G) child pediatrics, pedophile

 phil (G) love philosophy, Anglophile

 phys (G) body, nature physical, physics

 scrib, script (L) to write scribble, manuscript

 tele (G) far off telephone,television

 ter, terr (L) earth territory, extraterrestrial

 vac (L) empty vacant, vacuum, evacuate

 verb (L) word verbal, verbose

 vid, vis (L) to see video, vision, television


Authority for this chart: The Little, Brown Handbook by H. Ramsay Fowler and Jane E. Aaron, & Kay Limburg. 6th ed. HarperCollins: New York. 1995. By permission of Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers Inc.

Knowing the Roots

At least half of the words in the English language are derived from Greek and Latin roots. Knowing these roots helps us to grasp the meaning of words before we look them up in the dictionary. It also helps us to see how words are often arranged in families with similar characteristics.

For instance, we know that sophomores are students in their second year of college or high school. What does it mean, though, to be sophomoric? The "sopho" part of the word comes from the same Greek root that gives us philosophy, which we know means "love of knowledge." The "ic" ending is sometimes added to adjectival words in English, but the "more" part of the word comes from the same Greek root that gives us moron. Thus sophomores are people who think they know a lot but really don't know much about anything, and a sophomoric act is typical of a "wise fool," a "smart-ass"!

Let's explore further. Going back to philosophy, we know the "sophy" part is related to knowledge and the "phil" part is related to love (because we know that Philadelphia is the City of Brotherly Love and that a philodendron loves shady spots). What, then, is philanthropy? "Phil" is still love, and "anthropy" comes from the same Greek root that gives us anthropology, which is the study ("logy," we know, means study of any kind) of anthropos, humankind. So a philanthropist must be someone who loves humans and does something about it—like giving money to find a cure for cancer or to build a Writing Center for the local community college. (And an anthropoid, while we're at it, is an animal who walks like a human being.) Learning the roots of our language can even be fun!