Language Formation - A List of English Words with Greek Roots

Language Formation - A List of English Words with Greek Roots
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English Words with Greek Roots

English is a language that has roots in many languages. Many modern English words have Greek roots. Knowing some of the Greek roots helps students to figure out other English words. For instance, in the sciences, many words have Greek roots. However, there are also common words used daily with Greek roots. Learning to identify the roots in words helps students to decipher unknown vocabulary. Below is a list of common words, science words and prefix\suffixes that are English words with Greek roots. [caption id=“attachment_130975” align=“aligncenter” width=“640”]

Common Word List

The following Greek roots can be found in words we use daily.

  • anti (old) – antique, antiquated
  • arch (first, ancient) – archetype, archangel
  • athl (prize) – athlete, athletic
  • auto (self) – automatic, automobile, autonomous
  • basi (bottom) – basic
  • bibl (book) – bibliography, bible
  • centr (center) – eccentric
  • cid (fall) – accident
  • ceram (clay) – ceramic
  • doc (teach) – doctor, doctorate
  • graph (draw, write) – graphic
  • id, ido (shape) – idol, idolize
  • kudo (glory) – kudos
  • log (thought, word, speech) – logic, logical
  • mim (repeat) – mimic
  • par, para (beside or near) – parallel, parameter
  • sacchar (sugar) – saccharin
  • sy, sym (with) – symbol, system
  • tele (far, end) – telephone, telegraph, telescope
  • the (put) – theme, thesis, thesaurus
  • zon (belt, girdle) – zone

Words Found in Science

The following Greek roots can be found in various scientific vocabularies.

  • acro (height, summit) – acrophobia
  • aesthet (feeling, sensation) –- aesthetics
  • archeao (ancient) – archeology
  • baro (weight, pressure) – barometer
  • bio (life) – biology
  • calli (beautiful) – calligraphy
  • carci (cancer) – carcinoma, carcinogen
  • chrom (color) – chromosome, chromatic
  • dactyl (finger, toe, digit) – dactylology
  • dino (terrible, to fear greatly) – dinosaur
  • dys (bad, ill) – dysentery, dysplasia, dystrophy
  • eco (house) – ecology, economics
  • endo (inside) – endocrine
  • epi (upon) – epicenter
  • geo (earth) – geology, geography, geological
  • hal, halo (salt) – halogen
  • hel, helo (sun) – helium
  • hex (six) – hexagon
  • is, iso (equal, same) – isometric
  • kine (movement, motion) – kinesis, kinetic, kinesthetic
  • leuco, leuko (white) – leukemia, leucocytes
  • lip, lipo (fat) – liposuction
  • meaning (membrane) – meningitis
  • meno (moon) – menopause
  • narc (numb) – narcolepsy, narcotics
  • naut (ship) – nautical
  • oed (swollen) – edema
  • paed (child) – pediatric
  • path (to feel, hurt) – pathology,
  • rhiz (root) – rhizome
  • schem (plan) – schematic
  • scler (hard) – scleroderma, sclerosis
  • techn (art, skill) – technology, technological
  • xen (foreign) – xenophobia
  • zo (animal) – zoo, zoology
  • zym (ferment) – enzyme

Prefixes and Suffixes

In addition to being the root that creates a word, Greek words can also be found in the prefixes and suffixes used in daily language. Here is a short list: Prefixes a-, an- (without) – atypical anti-, ant- (opposite) – anticlimax, antacid hyper- (excessive) – hyperactive, hypersensitive mono- (one, single) – monologue, monosyllable neo- (new, recent) – neonatal, neoclassical pan- (all) – pandemic, panorama Suffixes -ism (the act, state or theory of something) – racism, optimism, Buddhism -ize (to make into something) – Americanize, legalize, computerize -graph (something written or drawn) – phonograph, photograph, seismograph -logy (the study of something) – biology, geology, zoology -oid (the shape or form of something) – humanoid, trapezoid -phobe, -phobia (fear or terror of something) – agoraphobia, claustrophobia -phone (something that receives or emits sound) – telephone, gramophone

Getting Results

Teaching students how to find roots in words is an excellent way to build vocabulary. Since many English words have their base in the Greek language, beginning with the roots from this ancient language is a good place to start. This list of English words with Greek roots will give students a basis for further exploration into the roots of the English language.


Image by Russell_Yan from Pixabay