Exercise Your Sense Vocabulary
with this Matching Game

Much of our English ‘sense vocabulary’ comes from Latin roots (via French), although our most common words (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, etc.) have Anglo-Saxon roots.

Take a look at these lists of words from Latin roots, then see how many you know or can guess in the interactive matching game below. (As an example, to be circumspect is to be cautious and avoid risks-- to 'look around carefully' before acting.)

(If you prefer to do the matching from a pdf offline, right click here, then choose 'save as...' to download it.)

Videre-- to See

Evidence, evidently, improvident, improvise, invisible, provide, providence, provision, review, revise, revision, supervise, supervision, supervisor, supervisory, video, view, visible, visibility, visibly, vision, visionary, visual, visualize, visualization, visually. (View and its review originally come from videre but were altered more by French than some of the other words.)

Spectare -- to Watch (from Specere-- to look at)

Aspect, circumspect, inspect, inspection, inspector, perspective, prospect, prospective, prospector, spectacle, spectacles, spectacular, spectacularly, spectator, suspect, suspicion, suspicious.

Audire-- to Hear

Audible, audience, audio, audiology, audition,  auditorium,  auditory, inaudible.

Tangere-- to Touch; Tactus-- Touched

Attain, attainable, contact, intact, intangible, tactile, tangible, unattainable.

Sentire-- to Feel, Perceive, Know,
Sensus-- Feeling, Perception

‘To sense’ is to ‘feel’ in the sense of to ‘recognize the presence of’ something. (“I sense a change in the atmosphere.”) As a noun, a ‘sense’ refers to one of the five senses, as in “my sense of smell is weak.” ‘Sense’ may also mean ‘meaning’ (see the first sentence of this paragraph), or ‘good judgment’ (‘common sense.’)

Common related words: insensitive, sense, sensation, sensational, sensibility, sensible, sensitive, sensitivity, sensor, sensory, sensual, sensuality, unsensational. Sensible originally meant easily felt or easily understood, but over time that changed to ‘reasonable’, even ‘wise.’ It is now a false cognate of the Spanish ‘sensible,’ which has kept the meaning of ‘sensitive’ or ‘perceptive.’ ‘Sensibility’ has also kept that sense. So has 'insensible,' which means unconscious, unaware, or even incapable of sensation.

A Note About Prefixes

Note the prefixes ‘in’ and ‘un.’ ‘In’ can mean into/inside/within. That’s its meaning in ‘inspect’ (to look into), ‘incline’  (to lean in toward something) or ‘inherent’ (to be inside something, a basic part of its nature.)

More commonly as a prefix ‘in’ (or ‘im’ before an ‘m’ or a ‘p’) means ‘not’: improvident (not careful to provide for the future), improvise (to make adjustments for unforeseen, unexpected events), inaudible, insensitive,  intact (untouched or undamaged), intangible, invisible.

‘Un’ also means ‘not.’ It has Angl-Saxon roots rather than Latin, but is also used with words from Latin roots like the two above. Most words have a preferred prefix, and you need to learn them to sound right to native speakers. So we say ‘unattainable’ or ‘unspectacular’ (or unexpected and unforeseen), NOT ‘inattainable,’ (my spell-checker red-lined that!) etc.-- but we also never say ‘unvisible.’ Only a few words can use either. (If in doubt, use your dictionary.)

Match English Sense Vocabulary with its Meaning

Match the words on the right to the sentences on the left. The first one is done for you.

1. If you can hear it, it'saudible
2. If you can touch it, it's
3. If you CAN’T see it, it’s
4. If it makes sense and is reasonable, it’s
5. If you have unusually acute senses or responses to pain or beauty, you’re
6. If something is whole and unbroken, it’s
7. If something is extremely noticeable and demands your attention, it’s
8. A person responsible for overseeing the work of others is a/an
9. Lovely views or opportunities ahead are
10. When you finish writing an essay, it’s important to _________ it.
11. Different angles or ways of looking at something are its various
12. A person whose job is to look into things (look for problems) is a/an
13. The sense of sight (or a mystical view of the future)--
14. When there’s a crime, police look for
15. People write wills to __________ for their families after they die.

HomeRoots, Prefixes, and Suffixes> Sense Vocabulary.

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