These seven Latin roots are the origins of a large number of
English words. Most of their derivatives below are very common in academic writing. (Many of these words are also
on study lists for the TOEFL and other tests.)
Studying these words will also help you understand how prefixes and suffixes change the meaning and use of words. Word-building skills like these should make it easier to guess the meaning of other words you read.
Take a quick look at these lists. If you think you know them,
try the matching practice at the bottom first, then study any that you aren't
Some of the words -- most from ducere, in fact-- are not easy to guess from their
roots. These words are so useful I included them anyway on the page (not in the practice)-- with explanations.
How to Use This Page
The headings give each Latin verb in italic type and its English meaning. Beneath each root there are some English words derived from it, with their parts of speech and meanings. After these is a short list of similar words with related meanings. Beneath the lists is a matching game using some of the easier forms to guess from each root.
If you are looking for a larger list of Latin roots of common English words, see 50 Word Roots from Latin. Studying both pages (especially along with some of the other root and practice pages listed at the bottom of this page) can really increase your English vocabulary.
Why the Different Word Forms?
The forms of some of the English words are quite
different from their Latin roots. (We get both success and succeed from cedere, deduct and deduce from ducere, etc.) This
is partly because some Latin forms (especially the nouns or past participles)
are very different from the verb infinitives.
For example, the past participle of vertere
is versus, and we get English
words from both forms. Other differences are due to changes over time from
Latin to French and then into English.
The definitions here give only the most common meaning(s)
of each word in simple language—tied to the root meaning of the Latin roots when possible.
For more accurate definitions and other meanings, check a good dictionary.
(Abbreviations for parts of speech: v.= verb, n.= noun, adj.= adjective, adv.=
adverb, prep.= preposition.)
Cedere- to Go, Depart, or Yield
- access, n.- ability to reach or use something (from ad + cedere)
- concede, v.- to yield to (go along with) an opponent’s argument, at least
- excessive, adj.- too much (going beyond what's wanted)
- precede, v.- to go before or in front of
- procedure, n.- the steps to follow in a complicated
- recession, n.- a diminishing, especially a weakening
economy, though not as weak as a depression
- succeed, v.- to achieve a goal
- successive, adj.- events following each other
- unprecedented, adj.- a first: without a precedent
Also important (from the above): accessibility,
concession, exceed, exceedingly, excess, inaccessible, precedent, procedural, proceed, process, procession, recede, recessive, success, successful, succession.
Ducere-- to Lead
- conduct, v.- to guide, or n.- behavior (the way one leads
- conductivity, n.- the ability to carry electric current
(or heat or sound)
- deduce, v.- to reason logically (draw conclusions from
general principles about what to expect in specific cases)
- deduct, v.- to take away from a sum of money (for
example, to deduct childcare expenses from taxes due)
- deduction, n. (from either deduce or deduct)
- induce, v.- to cause or lead someone to act
- introduce, v.- to present a person (or a new idea) to
- produce, v.- to make something (lead it into existence),
or n.- fresh vegetables and fruits for sale
- product, n.- something that is produced
- reduce, v.- to decrease (lower the amount)
- reproduce, v.- to copy, or produce more (for example, of the same
Also: conductor, deductible, induction, production,
productive, reduction, reproducible, reproduction, reproductive.
to seek (look for):
- acquisitive, adj.- wanting a lot of money or things
- inquest, n.- an investigation into the cause of a death
- inquire, v.- to ask about, look into
- prerequisite, n.- a requirement that must be met before
something can happen (You must meet all the prerequisites before you can take
certain classes. For example, passing Algebra 2 might be a prerequisite for
taking a calculus course.)
- quest, n.- a search for something important
- request, v.- to ask someone for something
- requirement, n.- something that must be done
- requisition, n.- an order for something needed
Also acquire, acquisition, inquire, inquiry, inquisition, question, require.
- abstain, v.- to hold oneself back from something
- contain, v.- to hold something within.
- content or contented, adj.- happy (desires that are
limited or contained.)
- detain, v.- to hold someone back or to prevent them from
- maintain, v. (from manus—hand
+ tenere)- to keep something usable
or hold it in a good condition.
- obtainable, adj..- able to get something.
- pertain (to), v.-to belong or relate to
- pertinent, adj.- related
- retention, n.- keeping something
- sustain, v. (from
L. sub-- up from below + tenere)- to hold up or support (for a
- sustenance, n. (Now used for food, since it sustains
- tenable, adj.- able to be held, reasonable (usually used
- tenet, n.- a belief held to be true
Also: abstinence, container, containment, contentment, contents, detainee, detention, discontented, maintenance, obtain, retain, retainer, sustainability,
tenacious, unsustainable, untenable
Venire- to come
- convention, n.- a large gathering
- event, n.- a planned happening
- eventually, adv.- sooner or later
- intervene, v.- to come between people, try to stop a
- invent, v.- to create a new product or machine
- prevent, v.- to stop from happening
Also: convene, eventual, intervention, invention, preventable, prevention.
- adversary- opponent
- adverse, adj.- contrary or opposing;
- convert, v.- to change something into something else
(often to cause someone to change their beliefs), or n.- a person who has changed religions
- diversion, n.- a break from the usual routine;
- invert, v.- to turn something upside down or inside out
- perverse, adj.- turned away from what is right
- reverse, v.- to turn something around so it will go in
the opposite direction, or adj.- the
back of something, or backwards
- revert, v.- to return to a previous condition or form.
- subvert, v.- to work secretly to undermine or overthrow
- transverse, adj.- lying across, sideways
Also: adversity, conversely, conversion, convertible, diverse,
diversify, diversity, inverse, inversely, inversion, irreversible, perversely, perversion,
pervert, reversible, reversion, subversion, subversive, version,
(+ vox- voice, & vocabulum- a word)
- advocate, v.- to argue or plead for someone, or n.- one
who pleads someone’s case [matching: to
speak in favor of someone]
- avocation, n.- a strong interest or pursuit, like a
- convocation, n.- a group called together
- evoke, v.- to call up a memory, feeling, or response
- invoke- to call on (or refer to in order to prove a point)
- invocation, n.- a formal prayer (usually calling on God
to bless a gathering)
- irrevocable, adj.- cannot be undone (called back)
- provoke, v.- to speak or act in a way that calls up a negative reaction
- revoke, v.- to
call back or retract (a law or privilege)
- vocal- relating to the voice (or with a loud voice: “a
- vocational, adj.- relating to jobs
Also: convoke, evocative, provocative, provocation,
revocable, revocation, vocabulary, vocally, vocation.
Instructions: Match the items on the right to the items on the left. The first one (contents) has been done as an example.
You can do a different kind of matching game (with almost all different words) at Roots Memory Game 1 (Quaerere), Memory Game 2 (Cedere) and Memory Game 3 (Vertere.) These "Memory" (or "Concentration") games require players to turn over two cards of twelve (or sometimes more) at a time, looking for matches. When the cards don't match, they flip back over. The players who remember matching card locations then can use their turns to choose (and win) those pairs.
It's a lot of fun, and a good mental exercise! It's also a great way to deepen the connections in your mind between words and their meanings.
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