Many words in English are formed from a set of Latin roots with different prefixes and suffixes. Knowing the roots of such words may help you to remember or guess their meaning when you see them in context. These words are usually fairly formal. In their formation, they can perhaps be seen as the Latinate, formal, equivalent of phrasal verbs.

Here are some examples of the more common Latin roots, with some of the verbs derived from them. In each case an example sentence is given with the meaning of the verb in brackets at the end. You’ll find some easier to understand than others, spect: see, look

You should respect your parents / the laws of a country, [look up to]

The police suspected he was guilty but they had no proof, [had a feeling]

Many pioneers travelled west in America to prospect for gold, [search]

vert: turn

I tried a word-processor but I soon reverted to my old typewriter, [went back] Missionaries went to Africa to convert people to Christianity, [change beliefs]

The royal scandal diverted attention from the political crisis, [took attention away]

port: carry, take

How are you going to transport your things to the States? [send across]

Britain imports cotton and exports wool, [buys in, sells out]

The roof is supported by the old beams, [held up]

due, duct: lead

She was educated abroad, [went to school]

He conducted the orchestra with great vigour, [led]

Japan produces a lot of electronic equipment, [makes]

press: press, push

She was impressed by his presentation, [full of admiration and respect]

This weather depresses me. [makes me feel miserable]

She always expresses herself very articulately, [puts her thoughts into words]

pose, pone: place, put

The meeting has been postponed until next week, [changed to a later date]

The king was deposed by his own son. [put off the throne]

I don’t want to impose my views on you. [force]

Above you only have examples of verbs. Note that for all the verbs listed, there is usually at least one noun and at least one adjective as well. Here are some examples.

List of Common Root Words

acro (top, height, tip)
aer, aero (air)
aesth, esth (beauty)
agr, agri, agro (farm)
alg, algo (pain)
ambi, amphi (both)
ambul (move)
ami, amo (love)
andr, andro (male)
anim (spirit, life)
ann, enn (year)
anth, antho (flower)
anthrop, anthropo (human)
apo, apho (away, separate)
aqu, aqua (water)
arbor (tree)
arch (most important)
archa, archae, archi (ancient)
art (skill)
arthr, arthro (joint)
aster, astr (star)
act (to do)
audi (to hear)
avi (bird)
bar, baro (pressure)
bell, belli (war)
bene (good)
bibli (book)
bio (life)
blast (cell)
capt, cept (capture, hold)
cardi, cardio (heart)
carn, carni (flesh)
caust, caut (burn)
cede, ceed (yield)
ceive, cept (take)
celer (fast)
cent, centi (hundred)
centr, centro (center)
cephal, cephalo (head)
chrom, chromo, chromat,
chromato (color)
cide, cise (cut)
circle, circum (around)
claim, clam (speak)
cline (lean)
cogn, cogni (learn)
cred (believe)
crypto (hidden)
cycl (circle)
dem, demo (people)
dendr, dendri, dendro (tree)
dent, dont (tooth)
derm, derma (skin)
dic, dict (speak)
domin (master)
don, donat (give)
duc, duct (lead)
dyn, dyna, dynam (power)
ego (self)
endo (inside)
equ, equi (equal)
fer (carry)
flect (bend)
flor, flora, fleur (flower)
fract, frag (break)
fug (escape)
gastr, gastro (stomach)
gen, gene, geno (birth)
geo (earth)
ger (old age)
gram (written)
gyn (female)
helic, helico (spiral)
heli, helio (sun)
hem, hema, hemo (blood)
herbi (plant)
hetero (other)
homeo, homo (same)
hydr, hydro (water)
imag (likeness)
iso (equal)
ject (throw)
jud, jur, just (law)
junct (join)
juven (young)
kine, kinet (motion)
lab (work)
later (side)
liber (free)
lingu (language)
loc (place)
locu, loqu (speak)
log, logo (word)
luc, lumin (light)
lun, luna, lumi (moon)
mal, male (bad)
mand (order)
mania (madness)
manu (hand)
mar, mari (sea)
mater, matr, matri (mother)
meter (measure)
migr (move)
morph (form)
mort (death)
narr (tell)
nat (born)
necr, necro (dead)
neg (no)
nom, nomin (name)
noun, nunc (declare)
numer (number)
ocu, op, opt (eye)
op, oper (work)
ortho (straight)
pale, paleo (ancient)
pater, patr, patri (father)
path (feeling)
ped, pede, pedi, pod (foot, child)
phag, phage (eat)
phil (friend, love)
phon, phono (sound)
phot, photo (light)
phys (body, nature)
pop (people)
pseud, pseudo (false)
psych, psycho (mind)
pugn, pugna (fight)
purg (clean)
pyr, pyro (fire)
rid (laugh)
rupt (burst)
scend (climb)
sci (know)
scrib, script (write)
sect (cut)
serv (keep)
sol (alone, sun)
spec, spect, spic (see)
sphere (ball)
spir (breathe)
stell (star)
techno (skill)
tel, tele, telo (far)
tele (far away)
temp, tempo (time)
term, termin (end)
ter, terr, terra (earth)
the, theo (god)
therm, thermo (heat)
urb (city)
vac (empty)
verb (word)
vid, vis (to see)