Greek Roots

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!

Picture of the Parthenon in Greece, with text: From demographics to sympathy and telescopes to chronology, a lot of English words have come from Greek. How many can you recognize? Try our quiz!

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, ideological, ideology, logic, mythology, psychological, theological
  • lexis- word: lexical, lexicography (dictionary writing)
  •  metron- measure: metric, speedometer, thermometer
  •  morpho- form or shape: metamorphosis,  morphology
  • patho- feelingsuffering, disease: antipathy, apathetic, empathy, pathogen, pathological, sympathetic
  •  philo- love (of): philanthropy, philosophical, technophile
  •  phobia- fear: agoraphobia, hydrophobia, technophobia
  • phone- sound: phonics, phonological, phonograph, symphony, telephone
  •  photo- light: photography, photosynthesis
  •  polis- city: metropolis, policy, political, politician
  •  psych- (via Latin)-soul, mind: psychiatrist, psychic, psychology
  •  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

Practice with Greek Roots

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

InstructionsChoose the best answer to each question, then press the right arrow to move to the next question.


Practice these Greek roots more with the Greek and Latin Roots Quiz.

For more Greek Prefixes, see Greek and Latin Prefixes

If you're interested in teaching roots, check out the inexpensive lessons and practice activities on Root, Prefix, and Suffix Worksheets.

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