Sunday, 27 November 2011

Latin and Greek Word Elements

English is a living language, and it is growing all the time. One way that new words come into the language is when words are borrowed from other languages. New words are also created when words or word elements, such as roots, prefixes, and suffixes, are combined in new ways.
Many English words and word elements can be traced back to Latin and Greek. Often you can guess the meaning of an unfamiliar word if you know the meaning.
word root is a part of a word. It contains the core meaning of the word, but it cannot stand alone. A prefix is also a word part that cannot stand alone. It is placed at the beginning of a word to change its meaning. A suffix is a word part that is placed at the end of a word to change its meaning. Often you can guess the meaning of an unfamiliar word if you know the meaning of its parts; that is, the root and any prefixes or suffixes that are attached to it.

Latin Roots, Prefixes, and Suffixes

Latin was the language spoken by the ancient Romans. As the Romans conquered most of Europe, the Latin language spread throughout the region. Over time, the Latin spoken in different areas developed into separate languages, including Italian, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. These languages are considered “sisters,” as they all descended from Latin, their “mother” language.
In 1066 England was conquered by William, duke of Normandy, which is in northern France. For several hundred years after the Norman invasion, French was the language of court and polite society in England. It was during this period that many French words were borrowed into English. Linguists estimate that some 60% of our common everyday vocabulary today comes from French. Thus many Latin words came into English indirectly through French.
Many Latin words came into English directly, though, too. Monks from Rome brought religious vocabulary as well as Christianity to England beginning in the 6th century. From the Middle Ages onward many scientific, scholarly, and legal terms were borrowed from Latin.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, dictionary writers and grammarians generally felt that English was an imperfect language whereas Latin was perfect. In order to improve the language, they deliberately made up a lot of English words from Latin words. For example, fraternity, from Latin fraternitas, was thought to be better than the native English word brotherhood.
Many English words and word parts can be traced back to Latin and Greek. The following table lists some common Latin roots.
Latin rootBasic meaningExample words
-dict-to saycontradict, dictate, diction, edict, predict
-duc-to lead, bring, takededuce, produce, reduce
-gress-to walkdigress, progress, transgress
-ject-to throweject, inject, interject, project, reject, subject
-pel-to drivecompel, dispel, impel, repel
-pend-to hangappend, depend, impend, pendant, pendulum
-port-to carrycomport, deport, export, import, report, support
-scrib-, -script-to writedescribe, description, prescribe, prescription, subscribe, subscription, transcribe, transcription
-tract-to pull, drag, drawattract, contract, detract, extract, protract, retract, traction
-vert-to turnconvert, divert, invert, revert
From the example words in the above table, it is easy to see how roots combine with prefixes to form new words. For example, the root -tract-, meaning “to pull,” can combine with a number of prefixes, including de- and re-. Detract means literally “to pull away” (de-, “away, off”) and retract means literally “to pull back” (re-, “again, back”). The following table gives a list of Latin prefixes and their basic meanings.
Latin prefixBasic meaningExample words
co-togethercoauthor, coedit, coheir
de-away, off; generally indicates reversal or removal in Englishdeactivate, debone, defrost, decompress, deplane
dis-not, not anydisbelief, discomfort, discredit, disrepair, disrespect
inter-between, amonginternational, interfaith, intertwine, intercellular, interject
non-notnonessential, nonmetallic, nonresident, nonviolence, nonskid, nonstop
post-afterpostdate, postwar, postnasal, postnatal
pre-beforepreconceive, preexist, premeditate, predispose, prepossess, prepay
re-again; back, backwardrearrange, rebuild, recall, remake, rerun, rewrite
sub-undersubmarine, subsoil, subway, subhuman, substandard
trans-across, beyond, throughtransatlantic, transpolar
Words and word roots may also combine with suffixes. Here are examples of some important English suffixes that come from Latin:
Latin suffixBasic meaningExample words
-able, -ibleforms adjectives and means “capable or worthy of”likable, flexible
-ationforms nouns from verbscreation, civilization, automation, speculation, information
-fy, -ifyforms verbs and means “to make or cause to become”purify, acidify, humidify
-mentforms nouns from verbsentertainment, amazement, statement, banishment
-ty, -ityforms nouns from adjectivessubtlety, certainty, cruelty, frailty, loyalty, royalty; eccentricity, electricity, peculiarity, similarity, technicality

Greek Roots, Prefixes, and Suffixes

The following table lists some common Greek roots.
Greek rootBasic meaningExample words
-anthrop-humanmisanthrope, philanthropy, anthropomorphic
-chron-timeanachronism, chronic, chronicle, synchronize, chronometer
-dem-peopledemocracy, demography, demagogue, endemic, pandemic
-morph-formamorphous, metamorphic, morphology
-path-feeling, sufferingempathy, sympathy, apathy, apathetic, psychopathic
-pedo-, -ped-child, childrenpediatrician, pedagogue
-philo-, -phil-having a strong affinity or love forphilanthropy, philharmonic, philosophy
-phon-soundpolyphonic, cacophony, phonetics
The following table gives a list of Greek prefixes and their basic meanings.
Greek prefixBasic meaningExample words
a-, an-withoutachromatic, amoral, atypical, anaerobic
anti-, ant-opposite; opposinganticrime, antipollution, antacid
auto-self, sameautobiography, automatic, autopilot
bio-, bi-life, living organismbiology, biophysics, biotechnology, biopsy
geo-Earth; geographygeography, geomagnetism, geophysics, geopolitics
hyper-excessive, excessivelyhyperactive, hypercritical, hypersensitive
micro-smallmicrocosm, micronucleus, microscope
mono-one, single, alonemonochrome, monosyllable, monoxide
neo-new, recentneonatal, neophyte, neoconservatism, neofascism, neodymium
pan-allpanorama, panchromatic, pandemic, pantheism
thermo-, therm-heatthermal, thermometer, thermostat
Words and word roots may also combine with suffixes. Here are examples of some important English suffixes that come from Greek:
Greek suffixBasic meaningExample words
-ismforms nouns and means “the act, state, or theory of”criticism, optimism, capitalism
-istforms agent nouns from verbs ending in -ize or nouns ending in -ism and is used like -erconformist, copyist, cyclist
-izeforms verbs from nouns and adjectivesformalize, jeopardize, legalize, modernize, emphasize, hospitalize, industrialize, computerize
-gramsomething written or drawn, a recordcardiogram, telegram
-graphsomething written or drawn; an instrument for writing, drawing, or recordingmonograph, phonograph, seismograph
-logue, -logspeech, discourse; to speakmonologue, dialogue, travelogue
-logydiscourse, expression; science, theory, studyphraseology, biology, dermatology
-meter, -metrymeasuring device; measurespectrometer, geometry, kilometer, parameter, perimeter
-oidforms adjectives and nouns and means “like, resembling” or “shape, form”humanoid, spheroid, trapezoid
-phileone that loves or has a strong affinity for; lovingaudiophile, Francophile
-phobe, -phobiaone that fears a specified thing; an intense fear of a specified thingagoraphobe, agoraphobia, xenophobe, xenophobia
-phonesound; device that receives or emits sound; speaker of a languagehomophone, geophone, telephone, Francophone

What Colors Mean

We live in a colorful world. In many countries, colors represent various holidays; they are also used to express feelings and enliven language. Find your favorite color and see what it means around the world.


Red Ribbon Wrapped Around an Orange Race Car
For the ancient Romans, a red flag was a signal for battle.
Because of its visibility, stop signs, stoplights, brake lights, and fire equipment are all painted red.
The ancient Egyptians considered themselves a red race and painted their bodies with red dye for emphasis.
In Russia, red means beautiful. The Bolsheviks used a red flag as their symbol when they overthrew the tsar in 1917. That is how red became the color of communism.
In India, red is the symbol for a soldier.
In South Africa, red is the color of mourning.
It's considered good luck to tie a red bow on a new car.
In China, red is the color of good luck and is used as a holiday and wedding color. Chinese babies are given their names at a red-egg ceremony.
Superstitious people think red frightens the devil.
A “red-letter day” is one of special importance and good fortune.
In Greece, eggs are dyed red for good luck at Easter time.
To “paint the town red” is to celebrate.
Red is the color most commonly found in national flags.
In the English War of the Roses, red was the color of the House of Lancaster, which defeated the House of York, symbolized by the color white.
The “Redshirts” were the soldiers of the Italian leader Garibaldi, who unified modern Italy in the nineteenth century.
To “see red” is to be angry.
A “red herring” is a distraction, something that takes attention away from the real issue.
A “red eye” is an overnight airplane flight.
If a business is “in the red,” it is losing money.


Green Traffic Light
Only one national flag is a solid color: the green flag of Libya.
Ancient Egyptians colored the floors of their temples green.
In ancient Greece, green symbolized victory.
In the highlands of Scotland, people wore green as a mark of honor.
Green is the national color of Ireland.
A “greenback” is slang for a U.S. dollar bill.
Green means “go.” When “all systems are green,” it means everything is in order.
The green room of a concert hall or theater is where performers relax before going onstage.
The “green-eyed monster” is jealousy.
greenhorn is a newcomer or unsophisticated person.
Green is youthful.
Being “green around the gills” is looking pale and sickly.
Green with envy” means full of envy or jealousy.
A person with a “green thumb” is good at making plants grow.
green, or common, is a town park.
Green is a healing color, the color of nature.


Blue First Place Ribbon
In ancient Rome, public servants wore blue. Today, police and other public servants wear blue.
In Iran, blue is the color of mourning.
Blue was used as protection against witches, who supposedly dislike the color.
If you are “true blue,” you are loyal and faithful.
Blue stands for love, which is why a bride carries or wears something blue on her wedding day.
A room painted blue is said to be relaxing.
“Feeling blue” is feeling sad. “Blue devils” are feelings of depression.
Something “out of the blue” is from an unknown source at an unexpected time.
bluebook is a list of socially prominent people.
The first prize gets a blue ribbon.
blue blood is a person of noble descent. This is probably from the blue veins of the fair-complexioned aristocrats who first used this term.
“Into the blue” means into the unknown.
A “bluenose” is a strict, puritanical person.
A “bluestocking” used to be a scholarly or highly knowledgeable woman.
The pharaohs of ancient Egypt wore blue for protection against evil.
The “blues” is a style of music derived from southern African-American secular songs. It influenced the development of rock, R&B, and country music.
Blue laws” are used to enforce moral standards.
blue ribbon panel is a group of especially qualified people.

Purple, Violet

Purple Chair
The Egyptian queen Cleopatra loved purple. To obtain one ounce of Tyrian purple dye, she had her servants soak 20,000 Purpura snails for 10 days.
In Thailand, purple is worn by a widow mourning her husband's death.
A “purple heart” is a U.S. military decoration for soldiers wounded or killed in battle.
Purple is a royal color.
Purple robes are an emblem of authority and rank.
Purple speech” is profane talk.
Purple prose” is writing that is full of exaggerated literary effects and ornamentation.
Leonardo da Vinci believed that the power of meditation increases 10 times when done in a purple light, as in thepurple light of stained glass.
Purple in a child's room is said to help develop the imagination according to color theory.
Richard Wagner composed his operas in a room with shades of violet, his color of inspiration.


Yellow Ribbon Tied Around Tree
In Egypt and Burma, yellow signifies mourning.
In Spain, executioners once wore yellow.
In India, yellow is the symbol for a merchant or farmer.
In tenth-century France, the doors of traitors and criminals were painted yellow.
Hindus in India wear yellow to celebrate the festival of spring.
If someone is said to have a “yellow streak,” that person is considered a coward.
In Japan during the War of Dynasty in 1357, each warrior wore a yellow chrysanthemum as a pledge of courage.
yellow ribbon is a sign of support for soldiers at the front.
Yellow is a symbol of jealousy and deceit.
In the Middle Ages, actors portraying the dead in a play wore yellow.
To holistic healers, yellow is the color of peace.
Yellow has good visibility and is often used as a color of warning. It is also a symbol for quarantine, an area marked off because of danger.
Yellow journalism” refers to irresponsible and alarmist reporting.


White Knight in Armor on Horseback
white flag is the universal symbol for truce.
White means mourning in China and Japan.
Angels are usually depicted wearing white robes.
The ancient Greeks wore white to bed to ensure pleasant dreams.
The Egyptian pharaohs wore white crowns.
The ancient Persians believed all gods wore white.
A “white elephant” is a rare, pale elephant considered sacred to the people of India, Thailand, Burma, and Sri Lanka; in this country, it is either a possession that costs more than it is worth to keep or an item that the owner doesn't want but can't get rid of.
It's considered good luck to be married in a white garment.
White heat is a state of intense enthusiasm, anger, devotion, or passion.
To whitewash is to gloss over defects or make something seem presentable that isn't.
A “white knight” is a rescuer.
white list contains favored items (as opposed to a blacklist).
A “whiteout” occurs when there is zero visibility during a blizzard.
A “white sale” is a sale of sheets, towels, and other bed and bath items.
A “whited sepulcher” is a person who is evil inside but appears good on the outside, a hypocrite.
White lightning” is slang for moonshine, a homebrewed alcohol.
white room is a clean room as well as a temperature-controlled, dust-free room for precision instruments.
White water is the foamy, frothy water in rapids and waterfalls.


Black and White Sheep
The ancient Egyptians and Romans used black for mourning, as do most Europeans and Americans today.
The “Blackshirts” were the security troops in Hitler's German army, also known as the S.S.
Black often stands for secrecy.
Black humor is morbid or unhealthy and gloomy humor.
A “blackhearted” person is evil.
If a business is “in the black,” it is making money.
A “blacklist” is a list of persons or organizations to be boycotted or punished.
Black is associated with sophistication and elegance. A “black tie” event is formal.
black belt in karate identifies an expert.
black flag in a car race is the signal for a driver to go to the pits.
blackguard is a scoundrel.
The ancient Egyptians believed that black cats had divine powers.
Black lung is a coal miner's disease caused by the frequent inhaling of coal dust.
Blackmail is getting things by threat.
Black market is illegal trade in goods or money.
black sheep is an outcast.
Blackwash” (as opposed to “whitewash”) is to uncover or bring out in the light.
blackout is a period of darkness from the loss of electricity, for protection against nighttime air raids, or, in the theater, to separate scenes in a play.
When you “black out,” you temporarily lose consciousness.

Making Wishes

The ancient Greeks threw coins in their wells, hoping to keep the wells from running dry. Today, people throw coins in fountains to make wishes come true. But don't throw all your coins into one fountain; there is more than one way to make a wish.

  • “Touch blue and your wish will come true.”
  • Make a wish each time you eat a green M&M.
  • Make a wish when you see three birds on a telephone wire.
  • Put a watermelon seed on your forehead and make a wish before it falls off.
  • Make a wish before you blow out the candles on your birthday cake.
  • Make a wish on the first star you see at night.
  • Throw a coin in a fountain; make a wish when the water clears so you can see your reflection.
  • Make a wish on a new pair of shoes before you wear them for the first time.
  • Make a wish with another person on a wishbone. Each takes an end and pulls until it breaks. The person with the largest piece of bone gets the “lucky break” and the wish.
  • Make a wish on the first robin you see in the spring.
  • Find a penny, wear it in your left shoe, and your wish will come true.
  • Wishes made on Midsummer's Eve (June 23) are most likely to come true.
  • Hold your breath and make a wish while crossing a short straight bridge.

Secret Languages/Mystery Messages

Moparopyop hopadop a lopitoptoplope lopamopbop. That means “Mary had a little lamb” in the secret language of Opish. Have you ever thought of using a language all your own? How about Double-Dutch, Na, or Skimono Jive? If you speak a secret language, no one will understand a word you say (until you tell them how it's done). Sound like fun? Try it! We've used “Mary had a little lamb” for each example.


b - bubk - kuks - sus
c - cashl - lult - tut
d - dudm - mumv - vuv
f - fufn - nunw - wash
g - gugp - pubx - xux
h - hutchq - quacky - yub
j - jugr - rugz - zub
Vowels are pronounced normally, but consonants become syllables.
Example: Mumarugyub hutchadud a lulituttutlulelulamumbub.


This secret language is used mostly in England. Add “egg” before each vowel.
Example: Meggary heggad egga leggittle leggamb.


Add “gree” to the end of every word.
Example: Marygree hadgree agree littlegree lambgree.


Add “na” to the end of every word.
Example: Maryna hadna ana littlena lambna.

Pig Latin

This is the most popular and well-known secret language. Move the first letter to the end of the word and add “ay” to it.
Example: Arymay adhay aay ittlelay amblay.

Skimono Jive

Add “sk” to the beginning of every word.
Example: Skmary skhad ska sklittle sklamb.

The International Language of Love

How to Say “I Love You” Around the World

LanguageI Love You
DanishJeg elsker dig
DutchIk hou van jou
EsperantoMi amas vin
FrenchJe t'aime
GermanIch liebe Dich
IndonesianSaya cinta kamu
ItalianTi amo
JapaneseAishite imasu
LatinTe amo
Mandarin ChineseWo ai ni
PolishKocham cie
RomanianTe iu besc
RussianYa vas liubliu
SpanishTe amo
SwedishJag alskar dig
TurkishSeni seviyorum