English Root Words - Vocabulary for Verbal Ability

Learning root words in English is not only helpful to fetch good marks in the verbal ability section of competitive exams but also help to hone up the English vocabulary skills in general. 

English is one of the important sections of various Government exams like Bank, SSC, RRB, etc. and aspirants preparing for these examinations are required to have a good vocabulary to ace this section. 

Now, the English language being vast and comprehensive, it is difficult to memorise each and every word and their meaning. So, English root words can help you to understand the meaning of all the words easily. 

Therefore, this article will provide the list of root words with detailed explanation. Candidates will also be able to download the root words pdf for convenient preparation.

English Root Words PDF:-Download PDF Here

Prepare well for the Government examinations with –

List of Root Words in English

To understand vocabulary, we need to understand each word and history attached to it. English is considered as a global language because it is a culmination of all popular languages like Spanish, Latin, Greek etc. Learning the root words will make it easy for the aspirants to work out the meaning of the new words as they encounter them.

What is the root word?

A root word is a word that forms the basis of new words by adding affixes (prefixes or suffixes). It is the most basic part of any word. 

The basic structure of roots are either affixed or suffixed and then they become a new word. An understanding of the usual root words will help make a good guess about the meaning of newly known words and will, in turn, strengthen your vocabulary.

Check out General English for competitive exams for various conceptual based topics along with their explanations. 

Let’s check out various root words in English, their combination and different new words formed by them.

Candidates can go through the video on English Vocabulary – Root Words to understand the concept.

English Root Word List

  1. Root Word – Mal – a Latin word, Meaning – bad or evil. 

English words having ‘mal’ root word –

  • Malignment – defame something badly
  • Malice – evil intention
  • Maltreat. – Treat someone/something badly
  • Malfunction – working badly
  • Dismal – A gloomy situation
  • Maleficent – Someone who deliberately try causing harm to someone

*All the words having ‘mal’ root word gives a negative connotation.

Candidates can check the List of Homophones/Homonyms in the given link to prepare for the English section. 

2. Root Word – Phobia, Meaning – Fear or dislike

English words formed of it –

  • Demophobia – demo is people so one who fears public speaking have demophobia
  • Zoophobia – people who fear animals.
  • Theophobia – Thei is God/Religion, so a person who fears religion has theophobia.
  • Pedophobia – Pedo means child, so a person who doesn’t like children has pedophobia.
  • Gynophobia – a person who dislikes girls/women because Gyno is a girl/woman. 

You can check the List of Phobias in the given link which is important for the general awareness section as well. 

3. Root word – Fin – a Latin word, Meaning – to end something, limit, or boundary. 

English words containing ‘Fin’ in them –

  • Infinity – No limit
  • Infinitesimal – immeasurably small
  • Confinement – concluding state of pregnancy
  • Definite – Precise

We can see, the words mean to end or limit something. Examples:  We take a final exam at the end of the course. The one who watches reality TV Shows, see the Finale episode or the final episode of the season.In a race, the Finish line is known as the end of it.

4. Root word – Phil – a Greek word, Meaning – to Love. 

English word with root word ‘Phil’-

  • Bibliophile – the one who loves books
  • Philologist – word lover who is a scholar of language
  • Philanthropist – is a person who loves mankind. 
  • Philosopher – A person who will love wisdom
  • Philodendron – A tree that curls up while growing and are called love trees.

So we can see all the words with root words are associated with love. Did you know the city of Philadelphia actually means the city of brotherly love.

5. Root word – Logy a Greek word, Meaning – to study something

Words formed with the root word ‘logy’ are –

  • Analogy – the study of comparison of two or more things
  • Anthropology – the study of human beings as ‘anthrop’ means human.
  • Theology – ‘theo’ means God/religion so theology is the study of religion
  • Morphology – the study of structures is morphology. Morph means structures.

The above-given examples for ‘logy’ root words form a part of one-word substitution which is again an important topic to study in the English language section. Candidates can go the category-wise list of one-word substitution for assistance in preparation.

6. Root word – Thie, a Greek word – Meaning – God/Religion

English words formed using the root word ‘Thei’ are –

  • Theist – ‘ist’ is follower, so theist is one who believes in God
  • Atheist – A [person who do not believe in God
  • Pantheist – Pan means that is all over, so the person who believes in all God across all religion is Pantheist
  • Monotheist – Mono connotes one, so those who believe in one god are monotheists. 

Also, check the One Word substitution Questions & Answers asked in various government exams.

7. Root word – Fact – coming from the Latin language – Meaning – something that is “made” or “done”. Let’s check the different words with this root word –

  • Factory: is a place where something is “made”.
  • Manufactured: A place where something is made too. Manufactured originally means something that is made in large scale.
  • Artifact – something that is made by human skills
  • Factor – is a “maker”. For example, a beautiful painting done by someone is a deciding factor who gained the rank of a master- painter.
  • Benefactor – Someone who does good for other people
  • Stupefaction –  something that made you completely surprised
  • Petrifaction – a superpower that makes people turn into stones by just gazing at them
  • Malefactor – someone that does evil to human
  • Satisfaction – done enough

All the words formed of the root word ‘fact’ connotes something done or made. 

8. Root Word – Dict/Dic – a Latin word – Meaning– Say

English words containing Dict/Dic in them –

  • Prediction – say something beforehand.  
  • Dictated – say something to someone
  • Verdict – speaking or saying the truth
  • Indicate – make known about something by saying
  • Contradict – say something against
  • Dictionary – a book that tells us how to say a certain word correctly.
  • Addicted – when we want to say or declare that we are in love with certain things. 

Candidates preparing for various government exams can check the following topics for preparation:

9. Root Word – Cide, a Latin word, Meaning a person or something that kills, Act of killing.

There are many words in the English language formed with the root word Cide –

  • Patricide – Patri means Father, so the killing of one’s father is Patricide
  • Uxoricide – Husband who kills his wife, Uxor means Wife. 
  • Maritricide – Marit is husband, so Maritricide is killing of one’s husband
  • Infanticide – Infant is a child, the killing of a child is infanticide. 

So, it can be understood that the words with root word Cide connote killing of someone or something.

10. Root Word – Anti, a Greek word, Meaning – Opposite or against

The English words formed of the root word ‘Anti’ –

  • Antiseptic – working against infection
  • Antidote – working against the effect of the poison
  • Antisocial – opposite to social norms
  • Antioxidants – compounds that work against the chemical reactions that damage the cells of an organism. 

Remember, anything with the root word ‘anti’ is supposed to do against or opposite of something.  

Given below are a few links that give questions and answers of important verbal ability topics that are asked in various government examinations, candidates can check these for practice and revision.

Tenses Questions And Answers Direct & Indirect Speech Questions & Answers
Sentence Correction Questions Idioms and Phrases Questions and Answers

For more such questions and answers on different topics or to get more concepts and rules-based explanations of various topics covered in the Verbal Ability section, check the linked page.  

Root Words That are Common English Words

There are certain root words that form a standalone word of its own or as part of other common words in the English language. Given below are some common English words that are root words as well:

  • Act – meaning – to move or do, other English words-  actor, acting, reenact
  • Crypt – Meaning – to hide, other English words –  cryptic, apocryphal, cryptography
  • Ego – meaning – Self-importance, Other words formed of it egotist, egocentric, egomaniac
  • Legal – meaning – related to the law, other words in English – illegal, legalities, paralegal
  • Form – meaning – shape, words formed from it – conform, reform, formulate
  • Phobia – meaning – fear – words formed from this root word are already discussed above.
  • Norm – meaning – typical, other English words – abnormal, paranormal, normality.

Given below is the Root words list that originates from either Latin or Greek words and forms the basis of different English words. 

Root Words from the Greek Language
Root Words Meaning Examples
meter/metr measure thermometer, perimeter
tele far off television, telephone
psycho soul; spirit psychology, psychic
therm heat thermal, thermometer
techno art; science; skill technique, technological
pseudo not genuine, false pseudonym, pseudoscience
morph form; shape morphology, morphing
photo/phos light photograph, phosphorous
phon sound phone, symphony
hydr water hydration, dehydrate
mono one monologue, monotonous
mis/miso hate misanthrope, misogyny
micro small microbe, microscope
hetero different heteronym, heterogeneous
scope viewing instrument microscope, telescope
hypo below; beneath hypothermia, hypothetical
homo same homonym, homogenous
chron time chronological, chronic
gram thing written epigram, telegram
auto self autobiography, automobile
dyna power dynamic, dynamite
bio life biology, biography
dys bad; hard; unlucky dysfunctional, dyslexic
phobia fear claustrophobia, phobic
logy study of biology, psychology
graph writing graphic, phonograph
nym name antonym, synonym
anthrop man; human; humanity anthropologist, philanthropy

Candidates preparing for various government exams can check the relevant links given below:

The table below gives the English root words taken from the Latin language:

English Root Words From the Latin Language
Root Words Meaning Examples
aqua water aquarium, aquamarine
bene good benefactor, benevolent
circum around circumference, circumstance
duc/duct to lead conduct, induce
cent one hundred century, percent
mal bad malevolent, malefactor
mater mother material, maternity
form shape conform, reform
ambi both ambiguous, ambidextrous
dict to say dictation, dictator
mit to send transmit, admit
fort strength fortitude, fortress
fract to break fracture, fraction
struct to build destruction, restructure
scrib/scribe to write inscription, prescribe
ject throw projection, rejection
multi many multimedia, multiple
fac to do; to make factory, manufacture
aud to hear audience, audition
sect/sec to cut bisect, section
jud judge judicial, prejudice
mort death mortal, mortician
pater father paternal, paternity
port to carry portable, transportation
contra/counter against contradict, encounter
rupt to break bankrupt, disruption
voc voice; to call vocalize, advocate
spect to look inspection, spectator
vid/vis to see video, televise
sent to feel; to send consent, resent

English Root Words List:-Download PDF Here

Candidates preparing for the various government exams can refer to the detailed exam syllabus in the links given below:

Bank Exam Syllabus SSC Syllabus RRB Syllabus
LIC Syllabus UPSC Syllabus UPSC CAPF Syllabus

Daily News