Many Greek roots have entered English, both directly
(especially in medical and scientific vocabulary) and by way of Latin.
Recognizing a few of their common bases (combined with a few prefixes) will
increase your reading comprehension. Besides, they’re fun!
A large percentage of English words for math, sciences and social sciences (as well as music and other performance arts) come originally from Greek.
There's a list of some very common Greek roots below, followed by more individual words with Greek origins,
Common Greek Roots for English Words
Here’s a list of some of the most common Greek roots, in
their usual combining form. (Most end in ‘o.’ You just drop the ‘o’ if the
following syllable begins in a vowel.)
anthropo- man, human : anthropology, anthropomorphic, philanthropy
bio- life : antibiotic, biology, biosphere, probiotic, symbiosis
chrono- time : chronic, chronology, chronometer
cris, crit- judge or decide : crisis, criteria (standards
to use to judge something), critical, hypocrisy
geo- earth : geologist, geometry, geographic graph (from graphein-
to write or draw, & graphia- a description
of) : calligraphy, demographic, digraph, graph, (a chart showing information in
the form of a picture), graphic, photograph
hydro- water: dehydrate, hydraulic, hydroelectric, hydrogen, hydrophobia, hydrothermal logo- (often logy- study of, from logia- a speaking about, logos-
word or thought) : biological, cardiology, dermatologist, ecology, ideology,
logic, mythology, psychological, theological
lexis- word: lexical, lexicography (dictionary writing)
metron- measure : metric, speedometer, thermometer
morpho- form or shape : metamorphosis, morphology
patho- feeling , suffering, disease : antipathy, apathetic, empathy,
pathogen, pathological, sympathetic
philo- love (of) : philanthropy, philosophical, technophile
phobia- fear : agoraphobia, hydrophobia, technophobia
phone- sound : phonics, phonological, phonograph, symphony,
photo- light : photography, photosynthesis
polis- city : metropolis, policy, political, politician
psych- (via Latin)-soul, mind : psychiatrist, psychic,
scope- to look at : microscopic, scope (now the breadth
and size of a project or vision, enough space to work), stethoscope, telescope
sphere- ball : atmosphere, hemisphere, sphere, spherical techno- art, skill : technique, technology
tele- far : telegram, telegraph, telephoto, telescope
thermo- hot : thermal, thermodynamic, thermostat thesis (plural theses) - a proposition (idea proposed for
debate) : antithesis, hypothesis, synthesis, thesis
More English Words from Greek Roots
Here are some more English words and their relatives that came from Greek (often via Latin):
anatomy character chorus (& choir) climate climax cone cube economics harmony melody orchestra physiology surgery theater theme theory Practice with
Two Greek suffixes and a few prefixes that you might need:
-ic, -al = pertaining to, related to; a- = without, anti- = against, hemi- = half, hypo- = under, sym- or syn- = with
: Choose the best answer to each question, then press the right arrow to move to the next question.
1. If a person really dislikes you their feeling for you is:
? apathy ? antipathy ? empathy ? sympathy
2. We should make decisions based on clear, definite
? calligraphy ? criteria ? hypotheses ? techniques
3. Someone who is logical
? writes well ? feels deeply ? thinks clearly ? studies the mind intensely
4. The northern hemisphere is
? north of Europe in geography books ? a geographic line on the globe ? the northern half of the earth ? the Americas
5. An idea someone proposes is a (or an)
? antithesis ? logic ? synthetic ? thesis
6. We measure heat with a
? chronometer ? stethoscope ? thermometer ? thermostat
7. Someone who studies disease is a
? pathetic ? pathologist ? psychiatrist ? psychologist
8. A technophobe
? fears technology ? studies technology ? loves technology ? works with technology
9. Philanthropy is based on
? the study of money ? the love of philosophy ? the love of mankind ? the study of mankind
? the whole living world ? a representation of life together with death ? anything that works against life ? two forms of life working together for mutual benefit
Practice these Greek roots more with the Greek and Latin Roots Quiz . Related Root & Prefix Pages
This is a useful list of the English meanings and then the
Latin prefixes and Greek prefixes that mean the same thing.
Find the pages to study or practice over 100 root words on EnglishHints. This reference table gives meanings, examples, & links.
You know words made from these roots. Learn the Latin
word roots themselves for a big boost in vocabulary!
Medical Prefixes, Medical Suffixes, (both almost all from Greek) & Medical Vocabulary.
Still want more? For stories about unexpected words that come from Greek (as well as some from above), see this article from
Home> > Greek Roots. Roots, Prefixes, and Suffixes
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