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Prefixes and Roots

Jessica DeForest reminds us ...

... the English language has its roots in several languages, including Greek, Latin, and older forms of English, German, and French. Learning to recognize common roots and affixes (prefixes and suffixes) will help you build your vocabulary and improve your ability to make educated guesses about unknown words you encounter in reading and test-taking situations. Good dictionaries will give you information about the origins of words. Whenever you look up a new word, make a point of reading this information. Some of the roots and affixes that appear in a large number of words. Learning these will enhance your ability to comprehend course readings and learn new terminology.

Prefix Meaning Example
a, an without, not asexual, amoral, anarchy, anhydrous, Anabaptist, anachronism
ab, abs, a apart, away from abnormal, abduct, abductor (muscle), abscission .See ad in Prefixes,
ad toward adhere, adductor (muscle) . See ab in Prefixes section), adumbrate
agere act agent, agency, agenda
amphi, ambi round, both sides amphitheater, amphibian, ambidextrous, ambivalent
ante before antedate, anteroom, antecedent, anterior
anthro man anthropology, anthropomorphic
anti against antipathy, antitank, anticlimax
aqua water aquarium, aqueous
archaios ancient archeology, archetype, archaic, archeozoic
archos leader, first, chief monarchy, oligarchy, anarchy, archetype, architect
audio hear audiophile, audiometer, auditory
auto self automatic, automaton, auto-immune
bi two bi-partisan, bisexual, biennial, binary, bicuspid, bivalve
bene well, favorable benefit, benevolent, benefactor, beneficent
bible book bibliography, Bible, bibliophile
bio life biology, biography, bio-active
caco Bad cacophony
cide kill homicide, parricide, germicidal, ecocide
circum around circumference, circumlocution, circumnavigate
constitutus stand constitution, statute
corpus body corpse, corporeal punishment, corpus callosum
cracy rule democracy, theocrat, technocracy
credo belief credit, (see also roots section)
demos people democracy, demographic
di two, double dimorphism, dicotyledon, diatomic
dia across, through diagonal, dialectic, dialogue, diagnosis
dis not, apart disperse, disinherit, disenfranchise, distend
dominus lord dominant, dominion
dynasthai be able dynamic, dynamo, dynasty, dynamite
ego I, self ego, egomaniac, egocentric,
epi upon, over epidermis, epidemic, epigram, epitaph, epithet, epiphyte, epistasis, epinephrine, epiphysis
ex out exotic, exterior, extraneous, extemporaneous, exophalmic, exogenous, exothermic, exoskeleton
federis (see also Roots section) league, pact federation, confederate
frater brother fraternize, fraternity, fraternal, fratricide
geo earth geology, geography, geocentric, geomancy
graph (see also Roots section) write, record graphic, graphite, graphology,
hetero mixed, unlike heterogeneous, heterosexual, heterodox, heterodont, hetero atom, heterocyclic, heterozygous,
homo same, alike homogeneous, homogenized, homozygous, homolytic fission, Homo sapiens, homonid, homeostasis
idem the same identity, idiopathic, I, individual
ideo idea ideology, ideation, ideal
idios one's own idiom, idiosyncrasy, idiopathic
in in incarcerate, incorporate, inculcate, induction, inductance, indigenous, indicator, inspiration
in, im not incredible, ignoble, inglorious, inhospitable, infinite, infinitesimal, immoral
inter between interact, interstellar, interpret, interstitial
legis (lex) law legal, legislature
lexis word lexicon, lexicography
liber free, book liberty, library, liberal
locus place locality, local, circumlocution
macro large macroeconomics, macroscopic, macrophage
mania (see Roots section also) obsession maniac, Beatlemania
meter (see Roots section also) measure metronome, speedometer, odometer
micro small microscope, micron, micrometer, microorganism
mittere, mitto (see Roots section also) send mission, transmit, remit
mono one, single monocle, monopoly, monogamy, monovalent, monomania, monarchy
mortis death mortician, mortuary, moribund, morbid
nomen name noble, ignominy, nomenclature, nominal
olig few oligarchy, oligopoly
pater father paternal, paternity, patricide
ped (see Roots section also) foot pedestrian, pedal, pedicure, podiatrist
peri around peripatetic, periscope, perineum, peritoneum
phage (see Roots section also) eat phagocyte, phagocytosis
philo love philosophy, philanthropy
phobos (see Roots section)
phon (see Roots section)
polein sell monopoly
polis (see Roots section also) city political, metropolitan
poly (see Roots section also) many polygamy, polyphonic, hoi polloi
porto carry porter, export
post after post script (p.s.), ex post facto, post hoc, post-mortem
pre before premier, preview, premium, prescient
pro before, in favor of project, projectile,
psyche mind, soul psychology
publicus people public, republic, pub, publican
riparia river riparian
scope examine microscope, oscilloscope
scribo (see Roots section also) write transcribe, scribe, script
solus alone solo, solitary
subter under, secret subterfuge, subtle, subaltern, subterranean
sin (sys before b, p, or m) together, with synchronize, symphony, sympathy, syncretic, syncope
tele distance telegraph, telephone, teleology
trans across transport, transcend, transmogrify
utilis useful utility, utilitarian
vide, visibil, vis see video, vision, visible

  Copyright © Jessica DeForest, 2000. All rights reserved

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