Basic Word Parts


Common Roots and Stems


Roots are basic word elements that have been carried over into English. Stems are variations of roots brought about by changes in declension or conjugation.



   Root or Stem



   ac, acr


acrimonious bitter; caustic

acerbity bitterness of temper

acidulate to make somewhat acid or sour

   aev, ev

   age, era

primeval of the first age

coeval of the same age or era

medieval or mediaeval of the middle ages

   ag, act


act deed

agent doer



demagogue false leader of people

pedagogue teacher (leader of children)

   agri, agrari


agrarian one who works in the field

agriculture cultivation of fields

peregrination wandering (through fields)



alias assumed (another) name

alienate estrange (turn away from another)



altitude height

altimeter instrument for measuring height



altruistic unselfish, considering others

alter ego a second self



amorous loving, especially sexually

amity friendship

amicable friendly


   mind, soul

animadvert cast criticism upon

unanimous of one mind

magnanimity greatness of mind or spirit

   ann, enn


annuity yearly remittance

biennial every two years

perennial present all year; persisting for several years



anthropology study of man

misanthrope hater of mankind

philanthropy love of mankind; charity



aptitude skill

adapt make suitable or fit



aqueduct passageway for conducting water

aquatic living in water


   ruler, first

archaeology study of antiquities (study of first things)

monarch sole ruler

anarchy lack of government



astronomy study of the stars

asterisk star-like type character (*)

disaster catastrophe (contrary star)

   aud, audit


audible able to be heard

auditorium place where people may be heard

audience hearers



autocracy rule by one person (self)

automobile vehicle that moves by itself

autobiography story of one’s own life



bellicose inclined to fight

belligerent inclined to wage war

rebellious resisting authority

   ben, bon


benefactor one who does good deeds

benevolence charity (wishing good)

bonus something extra above regular pay



bibliography list of books

bibliophile lover of books

Bible The Book



biography writing about a person’s life

biology study of living things

biochemist student of the chemistry of living things



brevity briefness

abbreviate shorten

   cad, cas

   to fall

decadent deteriorating

cadence intonation, musical movement

cascade waterfall

   cap (capt, cept, cip)

   to take

capture seize

participate take part

precept wise saying (originally a command)

   capit, capt


decapitate remove (cut off) someone’s head

captain chief



carnivorous flesh-eating

carnage destruction of life

carnal fleshly

   ced, cess

   to yield, to go

recede go back, withdraw

antecedent that which goes before

process go forward



celerity swiftness

decelerate reduce swiftness

accelerate increase swiftness


   one hundred

century one hundred years

centennial hundredth anniversary

centipede many-footed, wingless animal



chronology timetable of events

anachronism a thing out of time sequence

chronicle register events in order of time

   cid, cis

   to cut, to kill

incision a cut (surgical)

homicide killing of a man

fratricide killing of a brother

   cit, citat

   to call, to start

incite stir up, start up

excite stir up

recitation a recalling (or repeating) aloud



civilization society of citizens, culture

civilian member of community

civil courteous

   clam, clamat

   to cry out

clamorous loud

declamation speech

acclamation shouted approval

   claud (claus, clos, clud)

   to close

claustrophobia fear of close places

enclose close in

conclude finish

   cognosc, cognit

   to learn

agnostic lacking knowledge, skeptical

incognito traveling under assumed name

cognition knowledge



accord agreement (from the heart)

cordial friendly

discord lack of harmony



incorporate organize into a body

corporeal pertaining to the body, fleshly

corpse dead body

   cred, credit

   to believe

incredulous not believing, skeptical

credulity gullibility

credence belief


   to care

curator person who has the care of something

sinecure position without responsibility

secure safe

   curr, curs

   to run

excursion journey

cursory brief

precursor forerunner

   deb, debit

   to owe

debt something owed

indebtedness debt

debenture bond



democracy rule of the people

demagogue (false) leader of the people

epidemic widespread (among the people)



epidermis skin

pachyderm thick-skinned quadruped

dermatology study of skin and its disorders

   di, diurn


diary a daily record of activities, feelings, etc.

diurnal pertaining to daytime

   dic, dict

   to say

abdicate renounce

diction speech

verdict statement of jury

   doc, doct

   to teach

docile obedient; easily taught

document something that provides evidence

doctor learned person (originally, teacher)


   to rule

dominate have power over

domain land under rule

dominant prevailing

   duc, duct

   to lead

viaduct arched roadway

aqueduct artificial waterway


   power, strength

dynamic powerful

dynamite powerful explosive

dynamo engine making electrical power



egoist person who is self-interested

egotist selfish person

egocentric revolving about self

   erg, urg


energy power

metallurgy science and technology of metals


   to wander

error mistake

erratic not reliable, wandering

knight-errant wandering knight


   good, well, beautiful

eulogize praise

euphemism substitution of pleasant way of saying something blunt

   fall, fals

   to deceive

fallacious misleading

infallible not prone to error, perfect

falsify lie

   fer, lat

   to bring, to bear

transfer bring from one place to another

translate bring from one language to another

conifer bearing cones, as pine trees


   belief, faith

infidel nonbeliever, heathen

confidence assurance, belief


   end, limit

confine keep within limits

finite having definite limits

   flect, flex


flexible able to bend

deflect bend away, turn aside


   luck, chance

fortuitous accidental, occurring by chance

fortunate lucky



fortitude strength, firmness of mind

fortification strengthening

fortress stronghold

   frag, fract


fragile easily broken

infraction breaking of a rule

fractious unruly, tending to break rules



fugitive someone who flees

refuge shelter, home for someone fleeing



effusive gushing, pouring out

diffuse widespread (poured in many directions)



monogamy marriage to one person

bigamy marriage to two people at the same time

polygamy having many wives or husbands at the same time

   gen, gener

   class, race

genus group of animals with similar traits

generic characteristic of a class

gender class organized by sex

   grad, gress

   go, step

digress go astray (from the main point)

regress go backwards

gradual step by step, by degrees

   graph, gram


epigram pithy statement

telegram instantaneous message over great distance

stenography shorthand (writing narrowly)


   flock, herd

gregarious tending to group together as in a herd

aggregate group, total

egregious conspicuously bad; shocking

   it, itiner

   journey, road

exit way out

itinerary plan of journey

   jac (jact, jec)

   to throw

projectile missile; something thrown forward

trajectory path taken by thrown object

ejaculatory casting or throwing out

   jur, jurat

   to swear

perjure testify falsely

jury group of men and women sworn to seek the truth

   labor, laborat

   to work

laboratory place where work is done

collaborate work together with others

laborious difficult

   leg (lect, lig)

   to choose, to read

election choice

legible able to be read

eligible able to be selected



legislature law-making body

legitimate lawful

legal lawful

   liber, libr


library collection of books

libretto the “book” of a musical play

libel slander (originally found in a little book)



liberation the fact of setting free

liberal generous (giving freely); tolerant


   word, study

entomology study of insects

etymology study of word parts and derivations

monologue speech by one person

   loqu, locut

   to talk

soliloquy speech by one individual

loquacious talkative

elocution speech



elucidate enlighten

lucid clear

translucent allowing some light to pass through



magnify enlarge

magnanimity generosity, greatness of soul

magnitude greatness, extent



malevolent wishing evil

malediction curse

malefactor evil-doer



manufacture create (make by hand)

manuscript written by hand

emancipate free (let go from the hand)



maritime connected with seafaring

submarine undersea craft

mariner seaman

   mater, matr


maternal pertaining to motherhood

matriarch female ruler of a family, group, or state

matrilineal descended on the mother’s side

   mit, miss

   to send

missile projectile

dismiss send away

transmit send across

   mob (mot, mov)


mobilize cause to move

motility ability to move

immovable not able to be moved

   mon, monit

   to warn

admonish warn

premonition foreboding

monitor watcher (warner)

   mori, mort

   to die

mortuary funeral parlor

moribund dying

immortal not dying


   shape, form

amorphous formless, lacking shape

metamorphosis change of shape

anthropomorphic in the shape of man



immutable not able to be changed

mutate undergo a great change

mutability changeableness, inconstancy



innate from birth

prenatal before birth

nativity birth



navigate sail a ship

circumnavigate sail around the world

naval pertaining to ships



negation denial

renege deny, go back on one’s word

renegade turncoat, traitor

   nomen, nomin


nomenclature act of naming, terminology

nominal in name only (as opposed to actual)

cognomen surname, distinguishing nickname



novice beginner

renovate make new again

novelty newness



omniscient all knowing

omnipotent all powerful

omnivorous eating everything


   to work

operate work

cooperation working together



pacify make peaceful

pacific peaceful

pacifist person opposed to war



dispassionate free of emotion

impassioned emotion-filled

impassive showing no feeling

   pater, patr


patriotism love of one’s country (fatherland)

patriarch male ruler of a family, group, or state

paternity fatherhood


   disease, feeling

pathology study of diseased tissue

apathetic lacking feeling; indifferent

antipathy hostile feeling

   ped, pod


impediment stumbling block; hindrance

tripod three-footed stand

quadruped four-footed animal



pedagogue teacher of children

pediatrician children’s doctor

   pel, puls

   to drive

compulsion a forcing to do

repel drive back

expel drive out, banish

   pet, petit

   to seek

petition request

appetite craving, desire

compete vie with others



philanthropist benefactor, lover of humanity

Anglophile lover of everything English

philanderer one involved in brief love affairs

   pon, posit

   to place

postpone place after

positive definite, unquestioned (definitely placed)

   port, portat

   to carry

portable able to be carried

transport carry across

export carry out (of country)


   able, powerful

omnipotent all-powerful

potentate powerful person

impotent powerless



psychology study of the mind

psychosis mental disorder

psychopath mentally ill person

   put, putat

   to trim, to calculate

putative supposed (calculated)

computation calculation

amputate cut off

   quer (ques, quir, quis)

   to ask

inquiry investigation

inquisitive questioning

query question

   reg, rect


regicide murder of a ruler

regent ruler

insurrection rebellion; overthrow of a ruler

   rid, ris

   to laugh

derision scorn

ridiculous deserving to be laughed at

   rog, rogat

   to ask

interrogate question

prerogative privilege


   to break

interrupt break into

bankrupt insolvent

rupture a break



sacred holy

sacrilegious impious, violating something holy

sacrament religious act


   to know

science knowledge

omniscient knowing all

conscious aware


   watch, see

periscope device for seeing around corners

microscope device for seeing small objects

   scrib, script

   to write

transcribe make a written copy

script written text

circumscribe write around, limit



dissect cut apart

bisect cut into two pieces

   sed, sess

   to sit

sedentary inactive (sitting)

session meeting

   sent, sens

   to think, to feel

consent agree

resent show indignation

sensitive showing feeling

   sequi (secut, seque)

   to follow

consecutive following in order

sequence arrangement

sequel that which follows

non sequitur something that does not follow logically

   solv, solut

   to loosen

absolve free from blame

dissolute morally lax

absolute complete (not loosened)



insomnia inability to sleep

somnolent sleepy

somnambulist sleepwalker



philosopher lover of wisdom

sophisticated worldly wise

   spec, spect

   to look at

spectator observer

aspect appearance

circumspect cautious (looking around)



respiratory pertaining to breathing

spirited full of life (breath)

   string, strict


stringent strict

constrict become tight

stricture limit, something that restrains

   stru, struct


constructive helping to build

construe analyze (how something is built)

   tang (tact, ting)

   to touch

tangent touching

contact touching with, meeting

contingent depending upon



contemporary at same time

extemporaneous impromptu

temporize delay

   ten, tent

   to hold

tenable able to be held

tenure holding of office

retentive holding; having a good memory



interminable endless

terminate end



terrestrial pertaining to earth

subterranean underground



thermostat instrument that regulates heat

diathermy sending heat through body tissues

   tors, tort


distort twist out of true shape or meaning

torsion act of twisting

tortuous twisting


   drag, pull

distract pull (one’s attention) away

intractable stubborn, unable to be dragged

attraction pull, drawing quality

   trud, trus

   push, shove

intrude push one’s way in

protrusion something sticking out



urban pertaining to a city

urbane polished, sophisticated (pertaining to a city dweller)

suburban outside of a city



vacuous lacking content, empty-headed

evacuate compel to empty an area

   vad, vas


invade enter in a hostile fashion

evasive not frank; eluding

   veni (vent, ven)

   to come

intervene come between

prevent stop

convention meeting



veracious truthful

verify check the truth

verisimilitude appearance of truth



verbose wordy

verbiage excessive use of words

verbatim word for word

   vers, vert


vertigo turning dizzy

revert turn back (to an earlier state)

diversion something causing one to turn aside



deviation departure from the way

viaduct roadway (arched)

trivial trifling (small talk at crossroads)

   vid, vis

   to see

vision sight

evidence things seen

vista view

   vinc (vict, vanq)

   to conquer

invincible unconquerable

victory winning

vanquish defeat

   viv, vit


vivisection operating on living animals

vivacious full of life

vitality liveliness

   voc, vocat

   to call

avocation calling, minor occupation

provocation calling or rousing the anger of

invocation calling in prayer



malevolent wishing someone ill

voluntary of one’s own will

   volv, volut

   to roll

revolve roll around

evolve roll out, develop

convolution coiled state