Education and Information Site VirtualSalt Word Roots and Prefixes, Page 3 Robert A. Harris
January 21, 2010


General Roots and Prefixes

Root or Prefix Meaning Examples
re back, again report, realign, retract, revise, regain, reflect, rename, restate, recombine, recalculate, redo
retro backwards retrorocket, retrospect, retrogression, retroactive
sanct holy sanctify, sanctuary, sanction, sanctimonious, sacrosanct
scrib, script to write inscription, prescribe, proscribe, manuscript, conscript, scribble, scribe, postscript, transcript
sect, sec cut intersect, transect, dissect, secant, section
semi half semifinal, semiconscious, semiannual, semimonthly, semicircle
spect to look inspect, spectator, circumspect, retrospect, prospect, spectacle
sub under, below submerge, submarine, substandard, subnormal, subvert, subdivision, submersible, submit
super, supra above superior, suprarenal, superscript, supernatural, supercede, superficial, superhero, superimpose
syn together synthesis, synchronous, syndicate, synergy, snyopsis, syncretism
tele distance, from afar television, telephone, telegraph, telemetry, telepathy, teleconference
theo, the God theology, theist, polytheist, pantheism, atheist, monotheist, theophany
therm, thermo heat thermal, thermometer, thermocouple, thermodynamic, thermoelectric
tract to drag, draw attract, tractor, traction, extract, retract, protract, detract, subtract, contract, intractable
trans across transoceanic, transmit, transport, transducer, transit, intransitive
un not uncooked, unharmed, unintended, unhappy, unenlightened, unremarkable
veh, vect, vey
to carry vector, vehicle, convection, vehement, convey, conveyance, conveyor
vert, vers to turn convert, revert, advertise, versatile, vertigo, invert, reversion, extravert, introvert
ven, vent to come convention, prevent, intervention, convent, Advent, invent, inventory
verm worm vermin, vermicelli, vermiculite, vermicide, vermiform, vermilion
vita life vital, vitality, vitamins, revitalize
vol to will benevolent, volition, voluntary, malevolent

Don't forget to study the many, powerful conjunctions that join words and phrases and clauses together.

Learn creatively! See Creative Ways to Learn Vocabulary Words. It's really fun. I'm not kidding.

Have you been studying hard and need to take a refreshing break? Try this.

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Number Prefixes

Prefix Meaning Examples
mono, uni one monopoly, monotype, monologue, mononucleosis, monorail, monotheist, unilateral, universal, unity, unanimous, uniform
bi, di two divide, diverge, diglycerides, bifurcate, biweekly, bivalve, biannual, billion
tri three triangle, trinity, trilateral, triumvirate, tribune, trilogy, tricycle, trillion
quat, quad four quadrangle, quadruplets, quaternary, quarter, quadrillion
quint, penta five quintet, quintuplets, pentagon, pentane, pentameter, quintillion
hex, ses, sex six hexagon, hexameter, sestet, sextuplets, sextillion
sept seven septet, septennial, septillion, September
oct eight octopus, octagon, octogenarian, octave, octillion, October
non nine nonagon, nonagenarian, nonillion
dec ten decimal, decade, decalogue, decimate, decillion, December
cent hundred centennial, century, centipede, centillion
mill, kilo thousand (10^3) millennium, kilobyte, kiloton
mega million (10^6) megabyte, megaton, megaflop, megawatt
giga billion (10^9) gigabyte, gigaflop, gigahertz, gigawatt
tera trillion (10^12) terabyte, teraflop, terawatt
peta quadrillion (10^15) petabyte
exa quintillion (10^18) exabyte
zetta sextillion (10^21) zettabyte
yotta septilion (10^24) yottabyte
milli thousandth (10^-3) millisecond, milligram, millivolt, milliwatt, millimeter, millipede
micro millionth (10^-6) microgram, microvolt, microwave, microsecond
nano billionth (10^-9) nanosecond, nanobucks, nanofarad, nanometer, nanomachine, nanotube, nanotechnology, nanogram, nanoscale
pico trillionth (10^-12) picofarad, picocurie, picogram, picomole, picosecond
femto quadrillionth (10^-15) femtosecond
atto quintillionth (10^-18) attosecond, attometer
zepto sextillionth (10^-21) zeptosecond
yocto septillionth (10^-24) yoctosecond

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End note: In my second year of Latin in high school, we were required to find twenty-five Latin word roots and for each root to find five English words containing the root. This exercise not only helped to increase my vocabulary, but it gave me a valuable insight into the way many English words are constructed. As technology advances, new words are coined to cover some new idea or thing, and often these words are created from existing roots. A little root knowledge here can therefore help us to begin to understand a new word even before we read about its meaning.

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Robert Harris is a writer and educator with more than 25 years of teaching experience at the college and university level. RHarris at