50+ Latin Word Roots
to Multiply your English Word Power!
50+ Latin Word Roots
The great majority of words in an English dictionary have Latin word roots. (Many came into English from Old French.) That's especially true of words used in academic or professional writing.
Learning the most common word roots (and a few prefixes and suffixes) will help you recognize or at least guess at thousands of these
This will help you do well on tests, in
college courses, and in business. You will also find English reading
more enjoyable. It’s a fascinating study!
The list below includes over 50 Latin word roots, each with a few
examples of the English words that come from it.
I chose them for two reasons. They're the base for important English vocabulary AND their English meanings are still close to the root meanings. (Why study roots if the words derived from them no longer have similar meanings?)
Look at the prefixes and
suffixes attached to each word root, and see if you can guess the
English meanings. I also included several negative forms. If no negative is given, you can make almost any other adjective negative with 'un-.' (For a detailed explanation and more examples, see Negative Prefix List.)
The list begins with a demonstration of how prefixes can be added to a word root to change its meaning. I used the root 'mittere,' since it takes so many prefixes.
If you already understand prefixes fairly well and would like to go straight to the 50+ word list, click here.
the Latin verb mittere- ‘to send:’
- missile, n. (noun)- a weapon (often a rocket) sent through the air
mission, n.- the task one is sent to complete
(or a church building used by missionaries)
- missionary, n.- someone sent by a church to a foreign land
More words from mittere plus prefixes:
ad-: ‘to’ or ‘toward’ + mittere-- send to
(This is mostly used now for sending a message of acceptance):
- admissible, adj.-- something or someone that can be accepted. (The negative is inadmissible.)
admission, n.-- acceptance into a school, organization, or program (OR acceptance of blame)
- admit, v.-- to allow into a group (OR to agree something is true: “He admitted he had made a mistake.”)
- admittance, n.-- acceptance into a program
com-: ‘with’ or ‘together’ + mittere-- send with, send together:
- commission, n.-- an official group created for a specific mission
or task, (or payment to a salesperson of a part of the sale price)
- commission, v.-- to send someone to complete a task. (When it is finished he or she may be 'decommissioned.')
- commit, v. -- to promise or firmly agree to do something
- committed, adj.-- having sent a message that you will work with someone or do something
- commitment, n.-- a promise
dis-: not, apart + mittere-- send apart:
- dismiss, v.-- to send away
ex-, e-: out + mittere-- send out:
emission, n.- something (often energy, gases or sound) sent out
- emit, v.-- to send out
ob-, o-: ‘against’ or ‘over’ + mittere-- overlook or not do or send:
- omission, n.-- something that has not been done that should have been
- omit, v.-- to leave something out
per-: ‘through’ + mittere-- send through, allow
permit, v.-- to allow or n.-- an official paper stating that something is allowed (O.K. to do). A second noun is permission (adj. permissible or negative: impermissible.)
pro-: ‘before’ + mittere-- to send or say before:
- promise, n.(or v.) -- (to make) a statement that in the future something will definitely be done
re-: ‘back’ + mittere-- send back:
remit, v.-- to send something back
- remission, n.-- something that is returned (or forgiven)
sub-: under + mittere-- to send under:
- submission, n.-- yielding to another's will
- submit, v.-- to put one’s own will or plans under the will of another person (to accept their authority)
trans-: across or through + mittere-- to send through or across:
- transmit, v.-- to send a message a long way
- transmitter, n.-- a machine that sends electrical signals across distances.
- transmission, n.-- long-distance sending
Practice finding some of these words in a word search puzzle. (Answers are here.)
English Words from Other Latin Roots
Now use what you have learned about prefixes and suffixes. Try to guess the meanings of the English examples given after each of these Latin word roots. (Can you think of others?)
A - D
- actum-- an act, agere-- to do or to act. Examples of English words from these word roots: act, activity, counteract, deactivate, inactive, interaction, reaction, transaction. (To learn more about how words are made from act, see Word Families.)
- aequaere-- to make even or level,aequus-- equal: equality, equation, equator, equilibrium, equate, equinox, equity. (Negatives: disequilibrium, inequality, inequitable, unequal.)
- caedere-- to cut (often -cis) or kill (-cide): concise, decisive, homicide, imprecise, incision, indecisive, precise.
- clamare-- to shout: acclaim, clamor, exclamation, proclaim, reclaim.
- claudere-- to shut or close: conclusion, exclude, inclusive, inconclusive, occlude (to close off a passage like an artery), preclude. reclusive, secluded.
- clinare-- to lean: decline, disinclination, inclination, recline.
- crescere-- to grow: crescendo, decrease, increase, increasingly.
- currere- to run: concurrent, courier, currently, cursive, cursor, cursory, incur, occur.
- dicere-- to say: addictive, contradict, dictate, dictator, diction, predict, unpredictable, verdict
- durare- to harden or to last; durus-- hard: arduous, durable, endurance, unendurable.
- facere-- to make, factus, made (often becoming fectus when joined with a prefix. Facere also becomes the suffixes -ify, -ificial, & -ification in English): affect, artificial, classification, codify, diversify, edification, effect, efficiently, factor, factory, identify, infect (make someone sick), justification, perfect, proficient, simplify, specific, superficial, verify.
Negatives from facere: disaffected (affected negatively), unaffected (not affected at all), declassify, defective, unedifying, ineffective, inefficient, unidentified, unjustified, imperfection, unspecific, unverified.
- ferre-- to bring/carry: conference (bring together), defer, differentiate, inferred, refer, transfer.
- finis-- limit or end: confine, definite, definition, final, finite, finish, infinity.
- firmare-- to make firm: affirm, confirmed, confirmation, firmly, infirm.
- fligere-- to strike (hit someone): afflict, affliction, conflict, inflict.
- fluere-- to flow: affluent, confluent, effluent, fluency, flux, influential, influx, reflux.
- formare- to form: conformity, deform, formalize, format, formation, inform, nonconformity, reformer, transform, unformatted, unformed, unreformed.
- fundere-- to pour or melt: confusing, diffuse, fuse, fusion, infuse, profuse, refusal, transfusion.
- gradi-- to step; gradus-- a step: aggression (neg: nonaggression and nonaggressive OR unaggressive), biodegradable, congress, degradation, degree, digression, grade, graduation, progress, regressive, retrograde, transgression, unprogressive.
- gregare-- to herd (form groups): aggregate, congregation, desegregation, gregarious, segregation.
- haerere-- to attach or stick: adhere, adhesive, cohesion, incoherent, inherent.
- integrare-- to make whole: disintegrate, integer, integral, integration, integrity.
- jactare-- to throw: conjecture (an idea thrown out to see the response), dejected, eject, inject, objective, project, projector (machine that throws a picture forward), rejected, subject to, trajectory.
- jungere- to join together: adjoining, conjoined, conjunction, disjointed, joint, junction.
- laborare- to work: collaborate, elaborately, labor, laborer, laborious.
- legis, lex-- law: illegal, illegitimate, legal, legality, legislation, legislature, legitimate.
- locus-- place: allocate, collocation, local, locate, location, relocation.
- mandare-- to order or command: commandment, demand , mandate, mandatory
- manus-- hand: manipulate, manual, manufacture, manuscript
- pes, pedis- foot: biped, centipede, expedition, impede, impediment, pedal, pedestrian
- plicare-- to fold: complicated, duplicate, duplicity, explicit, implication, implicit, implies, multiply, uncomplicated.
- portare-- to carry: deport, deportment, exports, important, portable, report, support, transportation. (neg: unimportant, nonportable, unreported, unsupported)
- rectus-- right, regere- to lead straight or to rule: correct, correction, deregulation, direct, erect, incorrect, irregular, rectangle, rectify, regular, regulate, unregulated.
- rumpere, ruptus-- to break, broken: abrupt, corruption, disruptive, erupt, incorruptible, interrupt, rupture, uncorrupted, uninterrupted.
- scribere-- to write: ascribe, circumscribe, description, inscribe, manuscript, postscript, scribe, scripture
- securus-- safe: assure, assurance, ensure, insecure, insurance, reassure, security, sure.
- sequi-- to follow: consecutive, consequences, inconsequential, sequel, sequence, subsequently.
- servare-- to keep or protect: conservation, observe, preservation, reserve, reservoir.
- signare-- to mark or make a sign: assign, design, designate, insignia, insignificant, resign, sign, signal, signature, significant, unassigned, undesignated.
- sistere-- to place or take a stand: consistent, existence, insist, persistent, resist, resistance.
- solvere-- to loosen or dissolve: absolve, dissolution, resolve, resolution, soluble, solve. (Negatives include: insoluble, unresolved, unsolved.)
- spirare-- to breathe: aspiring, conspire, expired, inspiration, perspire, respiration, transpire, unexpired, uninspiring.
- statuere-- to put or set: constitutional, institute, institutionalize, restitution, substitute.
- struere-- to build: construction, destructive, instructions, obstruct, reconstruct, structure.
- terminus-- end, boundary: determine, exterminate, terminal, terminate, terminology.
- testari-- to bear witness: attest (to), contest, testify, testament, uncontested.
- torquere-- to twist: contort, distort, extortion, retort, torque, torsion, torture, undistorted
- tribuere--to pay or divide among: attribute, contribution, distribute, retribution, tribute, tributary, unattributed.
- turbare--to trouble or cause disorder: disturb, disturbance, perturbed, turbid, turbulence.
- volvere-- to roll or turn around: convoluted, evolution, involved, revolve, revolutionary
Practice These Word Roots-- & More
Practice some of the English words from these roots at Match These Words from Latin Roots and 50 Latin Word Roots Practice. (This is a gap-fill practice. There's some explanation for a few words that are hard to understand to understand from the root alone.)
To keep this list from being too long, I skipped many common roots you might already know. See if you can think of any words from the Latin root bases lun- (moon), manu- (hand), sol- (sun), stella- (star). There are also many common words from Greek roots.
There are more Latin word roots, as well as more explanations and practice, at
So many English words come from the Latin root ponere (pon- or pos-). For example: "The opposing team imposed their will. They really exposed our weakness!"
More English roots-- from Latin verbs of motion: attract (pull towards), & retract from the Latin root meaning 'pull;' compel, compulsive, expel, & repulsive from the root for 'driven'-- and more.
Find the pages to study or practice over 100 root words on EnglishHints. This reference table gives meanings, examples, & links.
You can review words from 10 of these roots with a fairly easy word search puzzle. (Check its answers here.)
For more on prefixes, see List of Prefixes or Negative Prefixes. List of Suffixes explains the common word endings that change words to different parts of speech. (That lets them fit in different places in the sentence.) For example, ""Do not make a commitment to someone unless you are fully committed to doing what you promise to do."
If you're interested in teaching roots, check out the inexpensive lessons and practice activities on Root, Prefix, and Suffix Worksheets.
Roots, Prefixes and Suffixes
50+ Latin Word Roots
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