Common Prefixes, Suffixes, and Root Words

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.

Prefixes

 

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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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