Latin Root Words
Latin Root Words
Use an English dictionary to find the meanings and origins of classical Latin or Greek words.
- Common suffixes and prefixes (e.g., pro-, anti-, anthro-)
- Legal terms (e.g., pro bono, habeas corpus)
- Common phrases (e.g., sui generis, quid pro quo)
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.
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.