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English Morphemes


by Leon 2008-present
...from decades of my own study of the English language


  WHY STUDY MORPHEMES?

By studying morphemes, you can learn the etymology of the English language through Latin roots and Greek roots.  This is the BEST way to improve your English vocabulary.

WHAT IS A MORPHEME?

A morpheme is the smallest unit of a word that has meaning.

I HAVE 2 PAGES of MORPHEMES (WORD ROOTS)

THIS PAGE has the English meanings in alphabetical order.

THE OTHER PAGE has the morphemes themselves in alphabetical order.

English meaning Latin-based
Morpheme
Greek-based
Morpheme
above/over supra-, super- hyper-

Examples:

superior (above in status/level)
suprasegmental (beyond the actual sounds of the letters; features of voice quality when speaking)

hyperactive (over active)
hyperthermia (over heating)
hypersensitive (over feeling)

after post- -

Examples:

postpone (after do)
post facto (after the fact)
post script (after writing) P.S.
post test (test after learning)

-
again re- -

Examples:

repair (again put together)
respect (again see nicely)
review (again look at) [USA, Canada]
revise (again look at) [UK,Australia,Singapore]

-
against (mentally) anti- -

Examples:

anti-government (against government)
antidisestablishmentarianism
(against the idea of destruction)

against (physically) contra-, counter -

Examples:

contra positive (negative)
counter strike (strike back against)

-
all total- omni-

Examples:

total (all; whole amount)

[see also, "whole"]

omnipotent (all-powerful)
omnipresent (all-present)
omnivore (all-eater; one who eats meat and vegitables)

alongside/beside ? para-

Examples:

-

parapsychology (beside psychology)
paragraph (beside (part of) the graph)
      -graph (means "writing")

around para- perio-

Examples:

paradise (around wall)
     Note:  the original paradise had a wall around it

periodontal (around the teeth; gums)

back retro- -

Examples:

retroactive (make take effect before)
retrospect (look back)
retrograde (back down)

-
bad mal- dys-

Examples:

malady (bad illness; disease)
malice (bad feelings)
malevolent (bad intentions)
malediction (bad talking)

dysfunction (bad workings)
dyslexia (bad reading)
dyspepsia (bad digestion)

bear/carry -fer -

Examples:

conifer (cone carrying)
infer (carry inside your mind)
defer (carry down, and wait)
Lucifer (light bearer; light carrier)
prefer (want more than other)
refer (again carry to another person)

-
before pre- ante-

Examples:

prepare (before get ready)
prefix (fixed/attached before)
preposition (before the noun)

antemeridian (before the middle)
antediluvian (before The Flood)
ante-mortal (before birth into mortality)

below/under sub-, infra-, infer- hypo-

Examples:

submarine (under the sea)
subterranean (under the earth)
subheading (below the heading)
infra
red (below red)
inferior (below others)

hypothermia (under heated disease)
hypodermic (under the skin)

between inter- -

Examples:

interact (act between 2 or more people)
intercommunication (talking between...)
interface ("talking" between machines)
intercom (machine for communication)
interpret (talk between 2 languages)
international (between nations)

-
big grand- mega-

Examples:

grand (big #; a lot; 1 thousand)
grandiose (big)
grandiloquence (big talking)

megaphone (big phone)
megabyte (big (million) bytes)

body corp- -

Examples:

corpse (dead body)
corpus (body (bunch) of words)
corporation (body (bunch) of workers)
corporal (of the body)

book libr- biblio-

Examples:

library (book room)
librarian (person of book room)

Bible (book)
bibliophile (book lover)

both ambi- amphi-

Examples:

ambidextrous (using BOTH hands)
ambiguity (having 2 meanings)
ambivalence (2 outer shells)

amphibian (living BOTH on land & water)

bottom found- -

Examples:

found(v.) (to start building up from the bottom)
foundation (the bottom of something)

-
brother frater- -

Examples:

fraternal (brotherly, (of siblings))
fraternity (brotherhood)
fraternize (to talk with and get new "brothers")

-
child fili- ped-

Examples:

filial (adj) (of son or daughter)
filial piety (respect of son or daughter)

pedagogue (teacher of children)
pedagogy (science of teaching children)
pediatrics (science of children's medicine)
pediatrician (children's medical doctor) 

circle -cycl- cycl- / dia-

Examples:

cycle (circle of life)
bicycle (two circles (wheels))
tricycle (three circles (wheels))
unicycle (one circle (wheel))

cyclops (circle eyed monster (with 1 eye))
dial (circle)
zodiac (animal circle, (in the stars))
diaspora (to spread out in a circle)

cold, freezing -frig- cryo-

Examples:

frigid (very cold)
refrigerator (a machine that makes things cold)

cryonics (freezing the body, for the future)
cryogenics (creating freezing temperatures)

color (Latin)
hue
(pure English)
-color- chrom-

Examples:

color (hue)
colorful (having many hues)

chrome (a mirror-like metal that reflects all hues; made from chromium and nickel)
chromatic (having many hues)
chromium (a mirror-like metallic element)
chromosome (chomo + soma >>>a colorful body)

come -ven(e)- -

Examples:

convene (come together)
convention (coming together)
intervene (come between)
invention (a new thing that comes into the mind)

-
crazy / craziness insan(e) -mania-

Examples:

insane (not normal in the head)
insanity (condition of being not normal in the head)

mania (craziness)
maniac (crazy person)
pyromania (craziness about fire)
pyromaniac (person who is crazy about fire)

create (make) -fact- -gen-

Examples:

factory (place to create things)
manufacture (make by hand)

generate (create/make)
generation (a period of creation, about 20-70 years)
carcinogen (thing that creates cancer)
mutagen (thing that creates mutations)
teratogen (thing that creates birth defects)

day -dia- -

Examples:

diary (daily journal)
dial (a circle (as the sun circles the earth))

-
deer
(old meaning = animal)
-anima- -zo-

Examples:

animal (moving creature)
animate (to make something move, like a cartoon)
animation (moving cartoons)
inanimate (adj) (not moving)

zoo (place for animals)
zoology (study of animals)
zodiac (animal circle)
protozoa (first animal)

die/death -mort- necro-

Examples:

mortal (adj.)  (deathly; can die)
mortal (n.) (a being that will die)
immortal (n.) (a being that will not die)
mortality (condition of being able to die)
mortician (a death doctor)
morbid (deathly; looks like death)
post mortem (after-death examination)
mortify (to make someone appear dead; to scare someone half to death)

necrology (study of death)
necrophilia (love of the dead)
necrophiliac (person who loves the dead)
necrosis (death of human tissue)
necropsy (after-death examination of animal)
necromancy (talking to dead people)
necromancer (person who talks to the dead)
necropolis (place of the dead)

drink bib- -

Examples:

bib (a towel for a baby to drink)
imbibe (to drink (especially alcohol))
bibber (person who drinks (especially alcohol))

-
down de- -

Examples:

deep (far down)
destroy (tear down)
destruction (tearing down)
deconstruct (take construction down)
deposit (put down)
detain (hold down)

-
earth, land -terra- -

Examples:

terra firma (firm land)
terra cotta (red earth, clay)
territory (someone's land)
extra-terrestrial (E.T.) (outside earth)
terrarium (land in a tank)

-
eat come- -phago-

Examples:

comestible (something to eat)

phagocyte {"eating cell" (a white blood cell)}

far - tele-

Examples:

-

telephone (far sound)
telescope (far see)
telestial (far away)
teleport (far door)
telekinesis (far touch)
telepathy (far feeling)

father pater- patri-

Examples:

paternal (fatherly)
paternity (fatherhood)

patriarch (father leader)
patriot (lover of the fatherland)
expatriate (person outside the fatherland)

fear terror- -phob-

Examples:

terror (fear)
terrorize (fear-make)
terrorism (fear-movement)

phobia (fear-disease)
phobic (fearful)
phobe (fearing person)
claustorphobia (closed-place-fear-disease)

feel or feeling (mental) -sent- -pathos-

Examples:

sentiment (feeling; emotion)
sentimental (having feeling; having emotion)

apathy (no feeling)
empathy {in feeling (from someone else)}
sympathy (same feeling)
telepathy (far feeling)

feel or feeling (physical) -sens- -

Examples:

sense (physical feeling; perception)
sensitive (having great feeling)

-
feet -ped- -pod-

Examples:

pedal (of feet)
pedestrian (person on foot)
pedastool (foot stool)
biped (2 feet)
quadriped (4 feet)
pedantic (step by step)

pod (foot)
podiatrist (foot doctor)
tripod (3 feet)
tetrapod (4 feet)

finger digit- -phalang-

Examples:

digit (finger; one place value in a number)
digital (of binary number system)

phalange (finger;  flat, circular metallic part)
phalanx (group of people or troops, which is part of a large group, as a finger is part of a hand)

fire ferno pyro

Examples:

inferno (fiery underworld)

pyromania (fire-crazy-disease)
pyromaniac (person who is crazy about fire)

first -prim- -proto-

Examples:

prime (first)
primal (first)
primate (first upright walking mammals)

protocol (first rules)
prototype (first of a kind)
protozoa (first animal)

flesh -carn- -

Examples:

carnal (of the flesh)
incarnate (in the flesh)
carnivore (flesh eater)
carnival (flesh party)

-
forward pro- -

Examples:

project (forward throw (verb))
protest (forward witness (verb))
provoke (forward voice (verb))

-
good -bene- eu-

Examples:

benevolent (good hearted)
benediction (good speech; prayer)
benefit (good deed)
benefactor (good doer)
beneficiary (good doee; good receiver)

euthanasia (good death)
Eugene (good genes)
eugenics (good genes science)
eulogy (good word(s))
europe (good ?)
eustress (good stress)

group -greg- organ-

Examples:

aggregate (grouped (adj.); group (verb))
congregation (together group)
gregarious (grouping (adj.))

organ (group of cells; group of musical pipes)
organism (group of cells which is a living being)
organize (make a group)
organization (group of people)

hand manu- chiro-

Examples:

manual (of the hand)
mano-a-mano (hand to hand)
manufacture (make by hand)
manipulate (handle (verb))

chiropractor (hand-using joint-fixing doctor)
chiromancy (palmistry)

head -cap- -phren-

Examples:

cap (head; hat)
capital (head city)
capitol (head building)
decapitate (downed head make)
captain (head person)

phrenology (study of the shape of the head)

hear/hearing -audi- -audi-

Examples:

audience (hearers; listeners)
audio (hearing (adj.))
audition (hearing (noun))
auditory (of hearing)

same
heart -cor- -cardi-

Examples:

core (heart; center)

cardiac (of the heart)
cardiology (study of the heart)

hold -tain -

Examples:

contain (hold)
detain (hold down)
obtain (get and hold)
pertain (hold meaning to...)

-
home -domus- dome-

Examples:

same

dome (semi-spherical home)
domecile (home)
domestic (of the home)

hot / heat calor- -therm-

Examples:

calorie (measurement of heat)

thermometer (heat measurer)
thermodynamics (heat actions)
endothermic (inside-heat)
exothermic (outside-heat)

human -human- -anthrop-

Examples:

humane (of humans; human-like)
inhuman (not of humans; unlike humans)
humanity (all humans, collectively)

anthropology (study of humans)
anthropomorph (human shaped being)
philanthropy (love of humans)

in/inside in-, intra- -endo-

Examples:

innate (in the womb)
intramural (in the school)
intrapersonal (inside the person)

endothermic (inside heat)

know (a concrete thing) -cogni- -

Examples:

cognize (to know)
recognize (again know)
cognition (knowledge)
precognition (fore knowledge)
cognizant (knowing (adj.))
cognizance (knowing (noun))

-
know (an abstract thing) -science- -gnosis-

Examples:

science (knowledge)
conscience (together knowledge
prescience (fore knowledge)
omniscience (all knowledge)

prognosis (forward knowledge)
prognosticator (forward knowledge person)
Gnostic (knowledgeable one)
gnosticism (knowledgeable movement)

leader -?- -arch-

Examples:

-

patriarch (father leader)
matriarch (mother learder)
oligarchy (few leaders)
monarch (one leader)
anarchy (no leader)

live, life -viv- -bio-

Examples:

survive (up-live)
vivacious (lively)
vivify (make alive)
vivid (like life)
vivacity (liveliness)

biology (life, study of)
biography (life, writing of)
biosphere (life's ball)
biotic (living)
biochemistry (life's chemistry

group (of a certain level or kind) -class- -

Examples:

class (group of same level or same kind)
classify (make groups of same kinds)
classification (noun of classify)
declassify (take down the groups)

-
light -luc- -photo-

Examples:

lucid (clear)
translucent (lets light travel through)
elucidate (out-light-make)
Lucifer (light bearer)

photograph (light writing; light picture)
photosynthesis (light-together-putting)
phototropism (light-growing; growing toward the light)

love -amor- -phil-

Examples:

amorous (loving)
enamored (in love)

Philip (lover)
philanthropy (love of humans)
philosophy (love of wisdom)
hemophilia (blood-love disease)
bibliophile (book lover)
hydrophilic (water-loving)
chlorophyll (green lover)

make -fy -ise[UK] -ize[US]

Examples:

beautify (make beautiful)
testify (make a witness)
classify (make a group)

apologize (make excuses)
organize (make a group)
globalize (make a single global network)

man homo- andro-

Examples:

homo sapiens (man who knows himself)
homicide (man-killing)
hominoid (man-like)

android (man-like robot)
androgen (man-maker)
androgenic (man-making)

mark (signature) -sign- -

Examples:

sign (make one's mark or signature)
design (down-mark; put marks down on paper)
resign (take back one's mark or signature)
re-sign (again make one's mark)
signature (one's personal mark)

-
mind -ment- -psych-

Examples:

mental (of the mind)
dementia (down-mind disease)

psyche (mind)
psychotic (having a deviant mind)
psychology (mind study; study of the mind)
psychiatry (doctor of the mind (and body))

moon -luna- -

Examples:

lunar (of the moon)
lunatic (person affected negatively by the moon)

-
mother mater- matri-

Examples:

maternal (of mother)
maternity (motherhood)

matriarch (mother leader)
matrix (mother field or mother substance)

new -nov- -

Examples:

noval (new)
novel (new book)
novice (new person)
nova (new material (from a star))
Nova Scotia (New Scotland)

-
old (not new) anci-, ance- archai-, archeo-

Examples:

ancient (very old)
ancestors (the old ones (now dead))

archaic (very old)
archeology (old-study; study of old objects)

out or outside e-, ex-, extra- ex-, exo-

Examples:

elicit (out draw;  draw out)
elect (out pick; choose out of)
expel (out kick; kick out)
explain (out know; give out knowledge)
expose (out put; put out)
expound (out give; give out information)
extra (outside the norm)
extra-terrestrial (outside the earth)
extra-marital (outside of marriage)
extra-Biblical (outside the Bible)

exoskeleton (outside skeleton)
expatriate (outside the fatherland)

peace pac, paci- -

Examples:

pacify (peace make; make peaceful)
pacifist (peace-maker; peace-making person)
pacifier (peace-making thing)
Pacific Ocean (Peaceful Ocean)

-
rock/stone

-petri-

petro-, peter

Examples:

petrify (rock-make; make into a rock)
petrified wood (wood that has been made into a rock)

petrol (rock oil)
petroleum (rock oil)
petrology (rock-study; study of rocks)
petroglyph (rock picture)
Peter (The Rock)

same -homeo- syn-, sym-

Examples:

homonym (same name)
homophone (same sound)
homosexual (same sex)
homeostasis (same-stay; stay the same)

synchronize = make same time
syn
onym (same name)
sympathy (same feeling)
sympathetic (having the same feeling)

say -dict- -

Examples:

predict (before-say; say before)
dictate (say (and the hearer writes))
dictator (one-person government; what he/she says goes)
dictionary (a book that teachers how to say words)
diction (speech)

-
see/seeing -vis- -

Examples:

vision (sight; ability to see)
visual (seen; seen thing)
visor (something that blocks or limits seeing)
audio-visual (hearing & seeing)

-
self -auto- -

Examples:

automobile (self-moving machine)
automatic (self-moving)
automate (make self-moving)
autograph (self's writing; signature)
autocracy (self government; (for politics))
autocrat (self ruler)
autonomy (self governing; (for a person))

-
shape -figur- -morph-

Examples:

figure (shape (of a person); number)
disfigure (make a person's shape bad)

morphology (shape-study; study of shapes (symbols) of the smallest unit of letters that have meaning)
morpheme (shape of the smallest unit of a word that has meaning)
metamorphosis (changing-shape process)
anthropomorph (human shape)

sister soro- -

Examples:

sorority (sisterhood)

-
sleep -dorm- narco-

Examples:

dormitory (sleeping room)
dormant (sleeping)

narcotics (sleeping drugs)
narcolepsy (sleeping disease)

small pica-, minute- micro-

Examples:

picayune

microscope (small thing seeing device)
microphone (small sound > to big sound)
microbiology (study of very small living things)
microbe (very small living thing)

sound -son- -phono-

Examples:

sonar (sound)
sonic (of sound)

phonology (sound study; study of sound)
phonics (sound study; study of sounds of speech)
phoneme (the smallest unit of sound that has meaning)
telephone (far sound)
microphone (small sound > to big sound)

speak -locu-, -loqu- -

Examples:

locutor (speaker)
interlocutor (person you are speaking with)
loquacious (speaking a lot)
eloquent (speaking well)

-
star -stell- aster-, astro-

Examples:

stellar (of the stars; like a star)
constellation (group of stars) 

asteroid (small star; rock in space)
asterix (small written star)
astrology (study of the stars)
astronomy (study of the stars)
astro-physics (study of the movement of the stars)

sun -sol- -heli-

Examples:

solar (of the sun)
solarium (sun room; room that lets in a lot of sunlight)

helium (of the sun; the element of the sun)
helio-centric (sun-centered)

taste gust -

Examples:

gusto (taste)
disgusting (bad-tasting)

-
teach doct- didact-

Examples:

doctor (teacher; scholar)

didactic (having a teacher's character)

tell -count- -

Examples:

recount (again-tell;  tell what happened)
account (one's person's side of the story)

-
time -tempo- -chron-

Examples:

tempo (time; speed of music)
temporary (for a short time)
contemporary (at the present time)
extemporaneous (on the spot; no time)

anachronism (out of proper time)
chronology (study of time)
chronometer (time-measuring machine; clock; timer)
chronicle (journal with dates (time))
Chronos (father time)

together con-, com- -syn

Examples:

congregate (together group make)
connect (together put)
contact (together touch)
convene (together come)

photosynthesis
synthesis
synthetic

tongue langua / lingua glossa/glosso/glot

Examples:

language = a spoken tongue
lingua franca = a common language
unilingual = having one language
bilingual = having two languages
trilingual = having three languages
quadrilingual = having four languages
multilingual = having many languages

glossary (book of tongues) = lexicon
glossolalia = speaking in tongues
glottis = opening of the mouth
monoglot = having one language
diglot = having two languages
triglot = having three languages
polyglot = having many languages

touch -tact- -kine-

Examples:

contact (together touch)
intact (in touch; touching)
tactile (of touching)
tactition (act of touching)

kinesthetic (of touch)
telekinesis (far away touching)

true, truth -vera- -

Examples:

veracity (truth)
veracious (truthful)
verily (truthfully)

-
up sur- -

Examples:

surprise (up emotion)
surrender (up give;  give up)
resurrection (again up straight)

-
voice -voc- -

Examples:

vocal (of voice)
invoke (use your voice)
invocation (using your voice for prayer)
vocation (one's calling)
vocabulary (words)

-
war mar-, mart- -

Examples:

Mars (god of war)
martial (war-like)
martial art (art of war)
martial law (law of wartime)

-
water aqua- hydra/hydro-

Examples:

aquatic (of the water)
aquarium (water tank; with fish in it)
aquamarine (water-sea; color of sea water)

hydrogen (water-maker; main atom in water)
hydro-electric (electricity from water)
hydraulics (water pressure for technology)
Hydra (water serpent (with many heads))

weep -lament- -

Examples:

lament (weep)
lamentations (weepings; regrets)
lamentable (able to be wept over; regretable)

-
whole / entire tot- -ome

Examples:

total (whole amount; entire amount)
totalitarian (one with whole control)
totalitarianism (a philosophy that agrees with one person having whole control)

biome (bio + ome >>>life's whole existence; the entirety of living things in a given area)
genome (the genetic code in its entirety) 

wind vent- -

Examples:

vent (window)
ventilate (open a window)

-
woman -donna- gyn-, gam-

Examples:

Madonna (mother woman)

gynecology (women's body study)
polygamy (many wives)
OB-GYN (woman's doctor)
androgyn (hermaphrodite)
androgyny (condition of being a hermaphrodite)

word -verb- -lexis-

Examples:

verb (word that portrays action)
verbose (using many words)
verbal (having words; using words)

lexis (words)
lexicon (book that gives meaning of words)
lexicology (study of words)

word / words (group of words) - -logos-

Examples:

-

log (book of words)
prologue (foreword)
epilogue (after word)
eulogy (good words)
monologue (one person's words)
dialogue (two people's words)
logic (word of reason)

write, writing -sribe-, -script- -graph-

Examples:

scribe (writer)
scribble (write non-sensical stuff)
script (writing)
post script (after writing)
transcribe (write from a speech)
transcript (written report of a speech)

autograph (self writing)
graph (picture writing)
photograph (light writing)
grapheme (writing that has meaning)
graphic (of picture writing)
biography (life writing)

 


 Numerical Morphemes

English meaning Latin morpheme Greek morpheme
one uni- mono-

Examples:

universe (one is all)
unicycle (one circle; one wheel)
university (one place, many colleges)
unique (one of a kind)

monogram (one letter)
monologue (one person's words)
mononucleosis (one nucleus disease)
monopoly (one (company) has many)

two bi- di-, dy-, dia-

Examples:

bicycle (two circles; two wheels)
biweekly (every 2 weeks)
bimonthly (every 2 months)
biannually (every 2 years)

dyad (two; pair; couple)
digress (2 grow; grow into 2 speeches)
divide (2 cut;  cut into 2 parts)
dialogue (2 people talking)

three tri- tri-

Examples:

tricycle (3 circles; 3 wheels)
triangle (3 angles)
triple (3 identical things)
triplets (3 identical people)

triad (three; group of three)

four quad- tetra-

Examples:

quad (4)
quadrilateral (4 sided shape)
quadruple (4 identical things)
quadruplets (4 identical people)

tetragram (4 letters)
tetrapod (4 feet)
tetragrammaton (The 4-letter name of God)

five quint- pent-

Examples:

quintuplets (5 identical people)
quintessential (top 5)
quintile (1 of 5 parts)
biquintile (2 of 5 parts)

pentagon (5-sided shape)
Pentateuch (first 5 books of the Bible)
Pentecost (50th day)
pentagram (pentagon with a 5-pointed star)

six sex- hex-

Examples:

sextuplets (6 identical people)

hexagon (6-sided shape)

seven sept- hept-

Examples:

September (7th month; It used to be the 7th month, but now it is the 9th month)

heptagon (7-sided shape)

eight oct- -oct-

Examples:

October (8th month; It used to be the 8th month, but now it is the 10th month)
octopus (8-legged creature)

octagon (8-sided shape)

nine nov- -non-

Examples:

November (9th month; It used to be the 9th month, but now it is the 11th month)

nonagon (9-sided shape)

ten dec- dek-

Examples:

December (10th month; It used to be the 10th month, but now it is the 12th month)
decade (10 years)

dekaliter (10 liters)
dekagram (10 grams)

hundred cent- -

Examples:

cent (1/100th of a dollar)
century (100 years)

-
thousand mil- kilo-

Examples:

millennium (1000 years)

kilometers (1000 meters)
kilo
grams (1000 grams)
kilobytes (1000 bytes)

million - mega-

Examples:

-

megabytes (1 000 000 bytes)

billion - giga-

Examples:

-

gigabytes (1 000 000 000 bytes)

trillion - tera-

Examples:

-

terabytes (1 000 000 000 000 bytes)

many multi- poly-

Examples:

multiple (many)
multiply (make many)

polygon (many-sided shape)
polygamy (many wives)

 Attention!

This material is not copyrighted and maybe be used, but I would appreciate being given credit for compiling the list as it did take a lot of time and effort.  I would also appreciate a link to this page.

Thanks,

Webmaster

 

 

 


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