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Latin Root Words

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Latin Root Words

Grade Levels

10th Grade, 11th Grade, 12th Grade, 8th Grade, 9th Grade

Course, Subject

World Languages, English Language Arts
Related Academic Standards


Latin is the language of ancient Rome and highly influential in the English language.  Breaking down a word into its roots will clarify its meaning.  For example, the word immortal.

                                  im + mortal
                       im = 'not' + 'mort' = death

'Im' is a prefix meaning 'not' and 'mort' is a Latin root meaning 'death.'  Combined, it literally leads one to the phrase 'not death.'  In the context of a sentence, an immortal is a living thing not subject to death.    Take away the prefix 'im' and deduct that 'mortal' alone means a living thing subject to die. 

Learning Latin roots will expand one's vocabulary because the root will appear in many English words (known as word families) that have the common thread of the root's definition. 

A word family has developed from the same root and includes words with related meanings. For example, the word immortal is related to words such as mortician, mortuary, and mortality.  All the words in this family have a definition involving death.

Roots can appear at the beginning, middle, or end of an English word.

Example chart:

Latin Root       Meaning    English Words (Word Families)

dict                  say, speak  predict, contradict  

mid                  middle        medicine, mediate

nov                   new            novice, novel, renovate

satis                 sufficient     satisfy, saturate

spir                   breath         inspire, respiration, conspire

tort                   twist           contort, torture

ven                   come          venture, intervene

vis                    see             vision, visit

vor                    swallow       carnivorous,    

People who tend to use Latin rooted words in their speaking vocabulary are often viewed are better educated.  This notion traces itself back to what is considered the true basis of Modern English, the Anglo-Saxon word origins.

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