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prefixes, roots, and suffixes


undefined, object
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a- = not, without
amoral, atypical, apathetic

Someone amoral is without any morals, like the sadists who designed the SAT, GRE and other terrors.

Someone atypical is not typical, like pocket protector—wearing students who love to take tests.

Someone apathetic is without feeling, or uncaring, which is like most students by the time they've finished the test and are leaving the test room. ("The world is going to end tomorrow? Fine — that means I can get some sleep tonight.")
anim- = life, spirit, anger
animated, animosity, animadversion

You and your best friend have an animated (lively, vigorous, spirited) debate over which singer is the best. Unfortunately, too much debate may lead to animosity, a feeling of dislike or hatred. Know the big word animadversion? It means hard criticism or disapproval.
ante- = before
ante meridian, antebellum, antecede

When the clock tells you that it's 5 a.m., the a.m. stands for ante meridian, which means before the middle, or the first half of the day. Antebellum means before the war. Tara in Gone with the Wind was an antebellum mansion, built before the Civil War. To antecede is to precede or go before. Studying algebra usually antecedes taking trig.
an- = not, without
anaerobic, anarchy

An anaerobic environment is without oxygen (the way the test room feels when a killer question leaves you gasping for air).

Anarchy is without rule or government, like a classroom when a substitute teacher is in for the day.
Ad- = toward, addition:
advocate, addicted, adumbrate,

When you advocate a point of view, you urge others toward it.

Because you are hopelessly addicted to the SAT, you are drawn toward it.

To adumbrate is to foreshadow (to go toward the shade — think of umbra, as in umbrella, which shades you) or to suggest beforehand.
ab = away from
abstain, abdicate, abscond

Your parents ask you to abstain from drinking and driving (stay away from it).

What does a queen do when she abdicates the throne? She goes away from it.

When a thief absconds with your valuables, she takes them away from you.
am-, ami- = love, like
amiable, amicable, amorous

At the pound, you choose a dog that seems amiable and amicable: friendly, loving, and good-natured.

It's not your fault if Bowser later decides to attempt an amorous — in love, especially in a physical way — relationship with your grandmother's leg
a- =
not, without

amoral, atypical, apathetic

Some amoral is without any morals, like the sadists who designed the SAT, GRE and other terrors. Someone atypical is not typical, like pocket protector—wearing students who love to take tests. Someone apathetic is without feeling, or uncaring, which is like most students by the time they've finished the test and are leaving the test room. ("The world is going to end tomorrow? Fine — that means I can get some sleep tonight.")
an-= not, without
anaerobic, anarchy

An anaerobic environment is without oxygen (the way the test room feels a killer question leaves you gasping for air). Anarchy is without rule or government, like a classroom when a substitute teacher is in for the day.
anti- = against, opposite
antisocial, antipodes

If you are antisocial, you're a hermit and don't like to be around people. The antipodes are any two places directly opposite each other on the earth (sometimes Australia and New Zealand together are referred to as the Antipodes, because they are opposite much of the rest of the world).
auc-, aug- = to originate, to increase
augment, auction

You may have to augment the meager allowance your folks give you by taking a part-time job. Here's an interesting point: The word auction actually means "sales by increasing bids." You augment your allowance and part-time job salary by auctioning off some of your old CDs.
aud-, aur- = to hear
An audience sits in an auditorium to hear a speaker who uses a microphone to make sure her words are audible (loud enough to be heard) even to those way in the back. Something auricular is spoken — whispered — directly into the ear, such as those sweet nothings from your boyfriend or girlfriend.
auto- = self:
autobiography, automonous, autochthonous

Your autobiography is the story of your life. An autonomous person is independent, self-governing (as, in, you can't wait to get away from your parents and finally be autonomous). Something autochthonous (don't worry, that jaw-breaker won't be on your exam; it's just a word you can toss into a conversation to look intelligent) is indigenous, native: "No, even though I'm a tall blue-eyed, blond surfer-dude, I'm not autochtonous to Southern California, but was actually born and raised in Brooklyn."
ben-, bon- = good
benevolent, bon voyage, bon vivant

A benefit is something that has a good result, an advantage. Someone benevolent is good and kind; a benevolent father lets you take his new car rather than your old junker on a date. Bon voyage means have a good voyage; a bon vivant is a person who lives the good life.
bibli- = book
bibliography, bibliophile, bibliomania

A bibliography is a list of all the books and resource materials you use to write a paper. If you are a bibliophile, you love books. If you're obsessed with books and collect them constantly, you suffer from bibliomania.
bi- = two
bimonthly, semimonthly, bicameral

A bicycle has two wheels. A bimonthly meeting occurs every two months (don't confuse bimonthly — every two months — with semimonthly, which means every half month). Bicameral means having two legislatures. You may have heard this word in your government class, because the United States has a bicameral Congress.
brev- = short
abbreviate, breve

You may have heard that "brevity is the soul of wit," an expression that may be translated, "Keep it short and fool everyone into thinking you're smart." To abbreviate is to shorten a word. Here's something to toss at your English teacher: A breve is the squiggly mark placed over a short vowel or a short syllable.
caco-, dys- = bad, abnormal
cacophonous, dysfunctional, muscular dystrophy

Something cacophonous is bad-sounding, such as nails scratching on a chalkboard. A dysfunctional family doesn't function normally. Muscular dystrophy occurs when the muscles are faulty.
ceiv-, cept-, capt- = to take, to hold

You receive an excellent score on your test and exclaim, "I'll accept (take) it!" You struggle at the gym to look your best so that you can captivate (take or hold the attention of) that cute new student in your economics class.
circum- = around
circumference, circumnavigate, circumspect

The circumference of a circle goes around the circle. If you circumnavigate the globe, you go around the world. When you come home late for curfew, you are circumspect as you enter the house, looking all around, judging the situation carefully and cautiously.
co-, con-, col-, cor- = with, together
correlate, collaborate, convocation

You work together with coworkers. When you put together all the notes you've taken over the semester, you correlate them. Then you may collaborate with your coworkers and study together for the exam. A school convocation is an assembly, a coming together of students for a meeting.
contra-, counter- = opposite, against
contradict, contrariwise, counterculture

To contradict is to assert the opposite. A classy, fun way to say "to the contrary" is to use the word contrariwise. The counterculture is a culture opposite to the norm, such as the hippies of the '60s.
de- = down from, away from (to put down)

To descend or depart is to go down from or away from. To denounce is to put down or to speak badly of; to expose the crimes of, as in denouncing those hogs who chow down on all the pizza before you get to the party.
eu- = good
eulogy, euphemism

A eulogy is a good speech, usually given for the dearly departed at a funeral. A euphemism is a polite expression, like saying that someone has passed away instead of calling him worm meat.
ex- = out of, away from
extricate, exculpate, culpable

An exit is literally out of or away from it — ex-it. (Exit is probably one of the most logical words around). To extricate is to get out of something. You can extricate yourself from an argument by pretending to faint, basking in all the sympathy as you're carried away. To exculpate is to get off the hook — literally to make away from guilt. (Culp means guilt.) If the dean of students wants to know who egged his house last weekend, you can claim that you and your friends are not culpable.
extra- = beyond, outside
extraneous, extradite

Something extraneous is beyond what you need, not essential. To extradite a criminal is to send a criminal outside of his current location, back to where he committed the crime. You've probably heard of ESP, but did you know it stands for extra sensory perception? That's the ability to go beyond your normal senses to perceive something. Your ESP tells you when it's time to duck down in the seat as a car passes because it may be your parents.
hetero- = other, different
heterogeneous, heterosexual, hetereography, heterographologist

Heterogeneous means dissimilar, unlike, or unrelated. A heterogeneous society has many different types of people from many different backgrounds. A heterosexual is attracted to people of the opposite sex. Here's a fun word you can probably relate to: hetereography, which is spelling that differs from current standard usage. When a teacher calls you to task for errors in spelling, you can say that you're a practicing heterographologist.
homo- = same
homogeneous, homosexual, homochromatic

Homogeneous means similar, uniform. If a club is made up of all the kids who look and dress and act the same, it's homogeneous. A homosexual is attracted to people of the same sex. Homochromatic is a fancy word meaning of a single color. When your father shows up for a golf game wearing plaid pants, tell him to go change into some more homochromatic trousers and not embarrass you.
hyper- = above
hyperventilate, hyperbole

A hyperactive person can't sit still for more than five minutes. Someone who hasn't had the benefit of learning all the words in this book may hyperventilate (breathe too fast) and pass out from anxiety during the test. A hyperbole is an exaggeration to make a point, as when you tell your friends you've learned a million words in this book.
hypo- = under, less than
hypodermic, hypotenuse

A hypodermic needle goes under your skin. Did you know that a hypotenuse, the bane of your geometry class, comes from a word meaning "to stretch under?" The hypotenuse is the longest side, "stretching under" the triangle.
il-, ir- = not

If you're irresponsible, you are not responsible. If something is illegal, it's not legal. An irrefutable argument can't be disproved. You have irrefutable proof that studying vocabulary reverses brain damage caused by having too much fun.
im- = not
implacable, immerse

Something impossible is not possible. Someone immortal isn't going to die, but will live forever. Someone implacable is not able to be calmed down; is stubborn. Notice that im- can also mean "inside" (immerse means to put into), but that meaning is not as common on standardized tests. First think of im- as meaning "not;" if that doesn't seem appropriate, switch to plan B and see whether it can mean "inside" in the context of the question.
in- = not
implacable, immerse

Something impossible is not possible. Someone immortal isn't going to die, but will live forever. Someone implacable is not able to be calmed down; is stubborn. Notice that im- can also mean "inside" (immerse means to put into), but that meaning is not as common on standardized tests. First think of im- as meaning "not;" if that doesn't seem appropriate, switch to plan B and see whether it can mean "inside" in the context of the question.
inter- = between
interstices, interpolate

An intermission comes between the acts of a play. The interstate highway goes between the states. Interstices are crevices, small or narrow spaces between things or parts. When you interpolate, you insert something new, such as interpolating words in a vocabulary book.
intra- = within
entrepreneur, intrapreneur

An intrastate highway is within one state, not between several states. If you play intramural sports in college, you stay within your own college; that is, you don't go to play against other schools. Here's a fun word: intrapreneur. You've probably heard of an entrepreneur, one who takes a risk organizing a business for profit. An intrapreneur is a person within a corporation who is encouraged to initiate products and business ventures.
micro- = small
microcosm, microminis

A microscope lets you look at very small items. A microcosm is a small universe, a world unto itself. High school is the microcosm in which teenagers function. In the sixties, very, very short skirts were called microminis.
mis- = bad
misnomer, miscreant

A bad mistake is bad to make on a test. A misnomer is a wrong name, such as calling me Floozie instead of Suzee. A miscreant is a bad, evil person; a criminal.
mono- = one, alone
monocle, monopoly

A monocle is one lens. (Ever see returns of the TV show Hogan's Heroes? Colonel Klink wears a monocle.) A monopoly is an exclusive control or privilege. If you have a monopoly on headache remedies the day of a big exam, you'll make a killing!
ne-, mal- = bad
nefarious, malicious, malapropism

Something negative is bad, like a negative attitude. Someone nefarious is "full of bad," or wicked and evil, like a nefarious wizard in a science-fiction novel. Something malicious is also "full of bad," or wicked and harmful, like a malicious rumor that you're really a 30-year-old narc in disguise. A malapropism is a ridiculous use of words. I heard my favorite malapropism on a television show: "Lincoln freed the slaves with the Emasculation Proclamation." Ouch.
non- = not
nonpareil, nonplussed, flummoxed

Something that's nonsensical makes no sense. If you're nonproductive, you are not producing anything. A nonpareil is a person who is not equaled or unrivaled, such as the best-ever student at your school. If you're nonplussed, you aren't able to speak or act further, but are totally flummoxed and bewildered (snuck another vocab word in on you there!).
peri- = around
periscope, perimeter, peripatetic

A periscope lets you look around (think of a submarine). The perimeter goes around a figure. If you are peripatetic, you walk around, not staying in one place. A peripatetic teacher doesn't sit at his desk but wanders up and down the classroom aisles.
poly- = many
polygon, polygamy, polymath

A polygon has many angles. Polygamy was the practice of being married to two or more people at the same time. If you're a polymath, you're a person of great and diversified learning; you know many things.
post- = after
post meridian, postmortem

When the clock tells you that it's 5 p.m., the p.m. stands for post meridian. It means after the middle, or the second half of the day. Something postmortem occurs after death. A postmortem exam is an autopsy.
pre- = before
predecessor, preclude

A preview is given before the movie is put in wide distribution. Your predecessor is the person who came before you. If you preclude something, you prevent it, make it impossible in advance. Your getting a hole-in-one on a golf course precludes your taking a second shot. Your getting a 1600 on the SAT precludes your taking the test again.
pro- = big, much
profuse, prolific

Profuse apologies are big — in essence, a lot of apologies. A prolific writer produces a great deal of written material.
pro- = after
profuse, prolific

Profuse apologies are big — in essence, a lot of apologies. A prolific writer produces a great deal of written material.

Pro has two additional meanings that are less commonly used on exams. It can mean before, as in "a prologue comes before a play." Similarly, to prognosticate is to make known before or to predict. A prognosticator is a fortune teller. Pro can also mean for. Someone who is pro freedom of speech is in favor of it. Someone with a proclivity toward a certain activity is for that activity or has a natural tendency toward it.
re-, retro- = back, backward, again
retroactive, retorts, retreat

When you review your demand for an hourly pay, you go back and view them again. You ask your boss whether you can have a retroactive raise, one going back to the beginning of your work history. Your boss retorts — answers back at you — that he's thinking about a retroactive decrease, given your poor work performance. You beat a hasty retreat (going back, withdrawal).
se- = apart
segregated, sequestered

An ill person may be segregated (separated) from her friends so she doesn't infect them. A jury may be sequestered (separated) from the public while making its decision. The decision is to sever (break apart from) your relationship with your boyfriend is never easy.
sub-, suc-, suf- = below, under, beneath
subterranean, succumb

If you are in a subway, you are in the subterranean (below earth) depths of the city. You may succumb (give way to, yield to) a slight bout of claustrophobia, that fear of enclosed spaces. You're strong enough to bear the suffering (undergoing something painful) until you're above ground again. Interesting point: suc- and suf- are just variations of sub-, used before certain letters. For example, you don't have a subfix, but a suffix at the end of a word.
super, sur- = over, above, upon
superfluous, superannuated, surcharge, surfeit

Superman is above the ordinary man. Something superfluous is above what you need; extra; unnecessary. A superannuated person is very old. A surcharge is an extra charge, over and above the standard fee. A surfeit is a surplus, an amount over the norm. A patient who has several doctors all show up the day of the operation has a surfeit of surgeons.
syn-, sym- = together, with
symmetry, synonyms

If you feel sympathy, you feel the same way with someone; you're together emotionally. Things that are in symmetry are together; the same. Synonyms have the same meanings, can be used together to make the same point.
tele- = distant

A telephone sends sounds across distances. A television allows you to see things sent from a distance. On television, you may see an exhibit of telekinesis, during which a person supposedly is able to move an object across distances by means of psychic force, using his mind to pick an algebra book up off the table and move it to the garbage can.
trans- = across, beyond, on the other side
transcribe, transgression

You transport something when you move it across distances. To transcribe is to write out in full, such as going home and transcribing the scribbles you took in class into full-length, readable notes. A transgression is an overstepping of the law or duty; a sin.
ultra-, outr- = excessive, beyond
ultraconservative, ultramontane

You may call your father ultraconservative if he won't let you wear a belly tee. Someone ultramontane is beyond the mountains, living on the other side of the mountains. If you're outrageous, you're beyond belief; really out of control.
vice- = in place of
viceroy, vicenennial, veinte

The vice-president is in place of the president, standing in for him at official functions. A viceroy is the person ruling in the name of king (roy = king, as in royalty).
There's another vice, meaning twenty. Something vicennial lasts twenty years or happens every twenty years. If you speak Spanish, you know veinte, meaning twenty, from the same root.
ambu = walk, move
ambulatory, somnambulist

In a hospital, patients are either bedridden (they can't move) or ambulatory (they can walk and move about). A somnambulist is a sleepwalker. (Somn- means sleep; -ist is a person).
andro = man
android, androgeneous

Commander Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation is an android; he's a robot that's shaped like a man. Someone androgenous exhibits both male (andro) and female (gyn) characteristics (literally, he/she is full of man and woman) — for example, the character Pat on the TV show Saturday Night Live was androgynous.
anthro = human, mankind
anthropology, misanthrope

Anthropology is the study of humans (not just men and not just women but humans in general). A misanthrope hates humans (an equal-opportunity hater: he or she hates both men and women).
bellu, belli = war, fight
belligerent, postbellum

If you're belligerent, you're ready to fight — in fact, you 're downright hostile. A postbellum mansion is one that was created after the Civil War.
clam, claim = shout
acclaim, clamor

When you proclaim your good scores, you shout them from the rooftops. To acclaim someone is to greet her with loud applause or approval. Clamor is a loud outcry or an uproar.
clin = lean, bend
If you're inclined to take chances, you lean toward the dangerous side of life. When you politely decline to go skydiving with your friend, you lean away from, or refuse, his kind offer. One of my favorite jokes (puns) uses this root: Why is there a clock in the Leaning Tower of Pisa? What good's the inclination if you don't have the time? (Get it? You may have the inclination to go see the latest movie, but you just don't have the time, what with all this vocabulary you're studying.)
clud, clus, claus = to close, shut

When you exclude someone from your club, you deny him entrance or shut him out. A recluse is a hermit, someone who shuts himself away from the world. If you have claustrophobia, you have a fear of being shut into small, enclosed places.
cred = trust, belief
credulous, credible

Something incredible is unbelievable, such as the excuse: "I was abducted by aliens over the weekend and didn't have time to finish my homework." If you're credulous, you are trusting and naive (literally, full of trust). In fact, if you're credulous, you probably actually believe I was beamed up to a flying saucer.

Be careful not to confuse credible with credulous. Something credible is trustable or believable. A credible excuse can get you out of trouble if you come home after your curfew. Credulous, on the other hand, means full of trust, naive, or gullible. The more credulous your parents are, the less credible that excuse needs to be.
demo = people

Democracy is rule by the people. An epidemic spreads rapidly among many people. A demagogue is a would-be leader who tries to stir up the people with emotion or prejudice in order to win them over. For example, if your school has an election and someone rules on a "Let's fire all the teachers!" platform, he may be a demagogue.
dog, dox = thought, idea
orthodox, dogma, dogmatic

If you are orthodox, you conform to the usual beliefs and ideas. A paradox is an idea or statement that seems contradictory but may be true. A dogma is a doctrine or belief. If you are dogmatic, you state your beliefs in a positive, even arrogant, manner.
duc, duct = to lead, pull
duct, viaduct, aqueduct, extant

A duct is a tube through which gas or liquid moves (duct tape was originally created to seal up a duct). A viaduct is a long bridge to carry a road or railroad over a valley. An aqueduct is a pipe made to lead water from a distant source. Some of the aqueducts the Romans made throughout the world are extant (still in existence). As a fraternity prank, you may abduct or take away a rival fraternity's front-lawn statue.
ev = time, age
medieval, primeval, coeval

A medieval costume party requires that everyone come dressed as a character from the Middle Ages. A primeval forest has been around since the earliest times. You and your best friend are coeval. That doesn't mean that you're both rotten scoundrels, but that you are of the same age or period; contemporaries.
fac = to do or make
facile, facilitate, manufacture

Something facile is easy to do. A facile job is easy, requiring little effort. To facilitate is to make easy. Recognizing roots facilitates learning vocabulary. In Spanish, facil means easy. To manufacture is to make something.
fiss = break, part
fissure, fission

A fissure is a break in the earth's surface. Nuclear fission occurs when the nucleus is broken.
flict = strike
inflict, affliction

You inflict a blow when you pounce on your buddy. An affliction is pain or suffering, a strike to your health and well-being.
fort = strength
fortify, fortitude, forte

To fortify something is to strengthen it. Fortitude is the strength to bear misfortune. When you have a test today that you forgot to study for, you have to summon up your fortitude. Your forte is your strong point, something you do exceptionally well. After going through this book, of course, you'll consider vocabulary your forte.
fract, frag, frai = break

If you fracture your leg, you break it. A sentence fragment is a broken or in complete sentence. Something frail or fragile is easy to break. Someone refractory is hard to control. Refractory comes from refract, as when light is refracted (bent).
gnos = knowledge
diagnosis, prognosis, agnostic, atheist

A doctor shows his or her knowledge by making a diagnosis (analysis of the situation) or a prognosis (prediction about the future of the illness). An agnostic is a person who doesn't know (is without knowledge about) whether God exists. Differentiate an agnostic from an atheist, who is literally "without God, " a person who believes that there is no god.
grad, gress = to go
regresses, digresses, retrograde

When you exchange rings with your beloved, your relationship progresses (goes forward). When Beloved gets second thoughts and asks for the ring back, the relationship regresses (goes backward). When you two are in the middle of arguing over your future and Beloved suddenly is distracted by the game on TV and begins discussing a good three-pointer, the conversation digresses (goes in a different direction). Finally, your conversation becomes retrograde (going back to an earlier state), and you call it a night.
greg = group, herd
congregation, gregarious, segregate, egregious

A congregation is a group or herd of people. A gregarious person likes to be part of a group — is sociable. To segregate is literally to make away from the group. Egregious means remarkably bad. An egregious act makes you stand out from the group and be distinguished by the horrible thing you did.
gyn = woman
gynecologist, misogynist

A gynecologist is a physician who treats women. A misogynist is a person who hates women.
her, hes = to stick
coherent, cohesion

Adhesive tape sticks to your leg, resulting in acute pain when you yank it and most of your leg hair comes off. A coherent argument sticks together; is logically consistent. Cohesion is the tendency to stick together. If you hesitate, you pause or delay (stick for a minute) before going forward.
jac, ject = to throw
ejector, project, trajectory, dejected

An ejector seat in a spy's car can throw a passenger out of the vehicle. To project your voice in a theater is to throw it way, way back to the last row of seating. The trajectory of a ball is the curved path it takes after being thrown. A dejected person is thrown down in spirit, sad, depressed.
loq, log, loc, lix = speech, talk
loquacious, elucidate, lustrous

Someone loquacious talks a lot. (That person is literally full of talk.) A dialogue is talk or conversation between two people. Elocution is proper speech. A prolix person is very talkative.
meta = change, transformation
metamorphosis, metastasis

A metamorphosis is a change of shame. Metastasis is a spread of disease from one part of the body to another; a changing of the location. For example, if cancer metastasizes, it spreads throughout the body.
morph = shape
amorphous, morphology

Something amorphous is without shape. Morphology is the study of shape. ("Hey, Mom, I'm going to the beach to work on morphology. . . .")
mut = change
mutated, immutable

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles mutated, or changed, from mild-mannered turtles to pizza-gobbling crime fighters. Something immutable is not changeable but remains constant.
narco = sleep
mutated, immutable

A narcotic puts you to sleep. If you have narcolepsy, you have a frequent and uncontrollable desire for sleep.
omni = all
omnipotent, omniscient, omnivorous

An omnipotent person is all-powerful, like the parents in most families. An omniscient person knows everything; like the teenagers in most families. An omnivorous persons eats everything, like the preteens in most families.
oper = work
inoperable, opus

Something inoperable doesn't work any longer. An opus is a work or a composition.

Here's something I bet even your teachers don't know: The word opera comes from the same root. An opera originally was simply a work, a musical play. Opera is the plural of opus. You don't have opuses, you have opera.
pac = peace, calm

Why do you give a baby a pacifier? To calm him or her down. To get its name, the Pacific Ocean must have appeared calm at the time it was discovered.
path = feeling
pathetic, sympathize, antipathy

Something pathetic arouses sympathy or a feeling of pity. To sympathize is to share the feelings (literally, to make the same feeling). Antipathy is a dislike — literally, a feeling against, as in: No matter how much the moron apologies, you still may harbor antipathy toward the jerk who backed his car into yours, denting the fender and raising your insurance rates.
phon = sound
phonics, cacophony, euphony, antiphony

Phonics helps you to sound out words. Cacophony is bad sound; euphony is good sound. Antiphony is the opposition of sounds. For example, one person may sing or chant part of a song, and the rest of the choir will respond with a second part.
plac = peace; calm; soothe
placate, implacable

To placate someone is to soothe him or her or to make peace with that person. You placate your irate sweetheart, for example, by sending a dozen roses (hint, hint). Someone implacable is someone you're not able to calm down — or someone really stubborn. If those roses don't do the trick, for example, your sweetheart is too implacable to placate.
pug = war, fight
pugnacious, pugilist, pugil

Someone pugnacious is ready to fight. A pugilist is a person who likes to fight — such as a professional boxer. (Did you ever see those big sticks that the American Gladiators use — the ones that look like cotton swabs with a thyroid condition? Those are called pugil sticks.)
rupt = break
ruptures, erupts, corrupt, corruption

When a pipe ruptures, it breaks. A volcano erupts when the lava bursts forth. When you corrupt a person such as a judge, you make him morally unsound, dishonest. Corruption of the body occurs in the grave as the body breaks down and decomposes.

Don't confuse erupt (to break) with eruct. To eruct is to burp!
sanct = holy
sanctify, sanctuary, sanctimonious, sacrosanct

To sanctify is to make holy. A sanctuary is a holy place, such as a church. If you are sanctimonious, you are holier-than-thou, pretending to be holy. Something sacrosanct is very holy, sacred, inviolable. To some teenagers, the weekend is a sacrosanct time of fun and sleep and shouldn't be defiled and polluted with homework.
scien = knowledge
prescient, prognosticator, omniscient

A scientist is a person with knowledge. Someone prescient has forethought of knowledge ahead of time — for example, a prognosticator (a fortune teller). After you learn these roots, you'll be closer to being omniscient — all-knowing.
senti = feeling
sentimental, insentient, sentinel

If you are sentimental, you have strong feelings. If you're insentient, like a robot, you have no feelings at all. I bet you wouldn't have guessed that the word sentinel, meaning a guard or sentry, comes from this same root. A sentinel senses or feels what's going on around him.
somn = sleep

Take Sominex to get to sleep. If you have insomnia, you can't sleep. (The prefix in- means not.)
son = sound
sonic, dissonance

A sonic boom breaks the sound barrier. Dissonance is clashing sounds. (My singing, quite frankly, is so bad that the governor declared my last opera a disaster aria!)
sop = sleep

A glass of warm milk is a soporific. So is a boring teacher.
soph = wise
philosophy, sophisticated

A sophomore is a second-year student, and thus (supposedly) wiser than a first-year student. (Interestingly, the mor part of sophomore comes from the same root as moron!) Philosophy is the love of a wisdom, a theory of the principles of knowledge. A sophisticated person is wise in the ways of the world; not naive.
spec = look

You can inspect something by looking through your spectacles. If you are circumspect, you look all around, checking things out carefully.
term = end, boundary, limit
terminate, exterminate, interminable

A bus terminal is the end of the bus line. To terminate is to end; to exterminate is to kill or wipe out completely, bringing it to an end. An interminable lecture seems as if it will never end.
terr = earth
terrarium, extraterrestrial, interred, interment

You change your aquarium to a terrarium by taking out the water and fish and putting in dirt and lizards. Someone extraterrestrial isn't from earth, but from outside the limits of the planet. Someone interred is put into the earth, buried. When you're all done with your exams, you may want to have a ceremonial interment, tossing your books into a hole in the ground and saying a few words.
theo = God
theology, atheist, polytheist, autonomous, theonomous

Theology is the study of gods and religion. An atheist believes there is no god. A polytheist believes in many gods. If you know the word autonomous, meaning self-governing, can you deduce what theonomous means? It means controlled by God. If you're crossing your fingers that the weather will be nice for your Homecoming Parade with those tissue-paper floats, you may say, "Oh well, it's out of my control; the weather is theonomous."
ven = come
convention, conventional, intervene

During a convention, people come together. Something conventional is normal because it has become common from all the people who came together to do the same thing. For example, it's conventional to wear blue jeans to a picnic; everyone does so. To intervene is to come between. You intervene between two friends who are fighting, shoving them apart. Ever take Latin? The famous saying, "Veni, vidi, vici" means, "I came, I saw, I conquered."
vid, vis = to see
visage, vista, viser, videophone

Your visage (face) is visible on the hidden video taken to prevent shoplifting. A vista is a view or outlook. A viser on a suit of armor is the part that the knight sees or looks through. A videophone lets you see the person on the other end of the line.
volv, volt, vol = roll, turn

You turn around and around in a revolving door. When the peasants revolt, they turn against the landowners. The evolution of a species is its unrolling, how it develops or works out.
voc, voke = call
vocalize, provoke, equivocates

When you vocalize your demand for better food in the cafeteria, you call for a change. To provoke is to excite or call forth some action or feeling, such as provoking the principal into changing the lunch menu. If the principal equivocates, he hedges or misleads; is intentionally ambiguous. (You see the prefix equi, meaning equal? Someone who equivocates gives equal voice to both sides of the issue without stating something definitively.)
xen = stranger, foreigner
xenophobic, xenophile

If you're xenophobic, you have a fear of strangers. If you are a xenophile, you love strange and foreign things. In chemistry class, you may have studied xenon gas. It was named xenon because it was a previously known inert gas.
-ate = to make
renovate, placate

To duplicate is to make double. To renovate is to make new again (nov- means new). To placate is to make peaceful or calm (plac - means peace or calm).
-ist = a person
pugilist, pacifist

A typist is a person who types. A pugilist is a person who fights (pug- means war or fight), a boxer. A pacifist is a person who believes in peace, a noncombatant (pac- means peace or calm).
-ity = a noun suffix that doesn't actually mean anything; it just turns a word into a noun
jollity, serenity, timidity

Jollity is the noun form of jolly. Serenity is the noun form of serene. Timidity is the noun form of timid.
-ize, -ise (British) = to make
immunize, ostracize

To alphabetize is to make alphabetical. To immunize is to make immune. To ostracize is to make separate from the group; to shun. If you walk around chirping merrily, "C'mon over to my house tonight, and we can all study suffixes," expect to find yourself ostracized.
-logy, -ology = study

Biology is the study of life. Geology is the study of the earth. Any idea what phrenology is? It is the study of the bumps on your head! In the 1800s, it was popular to try to determine what type of person you were by feeling the shape of your skull.
-ous = full of (very)
amorous, capacious

Someone joyous is full of joy. Someone amorous is full of amor, or love, and is very loving. Something capacious is full of capacity or has a very large capacity. You shop for a capacious backpack that can hold your books, phone, laptop, calculator, and lunch.
carn = flesh
carnivore, incarnation, carnal

If you're a carnivore, you eat flesh (meat).

Incarnation is appearance in human (flesh) form, such as the incarnation of a god who appears as a human (you see that all the time on TV shows).

Carnal means of the flesh; bodily. Carnal pleasures are sensual or sexual pleasures.
ad = toward, addition
adovate, addicted, adumbrate

When you advocate a point of view, you urge others toward it.

Because you are hopelessly addicted to the SAT, you are drawn toward it.

To adumbrate is to foreshadow (to go toward the shade — think of umbra, as in umbrella, which shades you) or to suggest beforehand.
able, -ible = capable of, worthy of
navigable, visible

Someone huggable is worthy of being hugged.

Something legible is capable of being read.

A navigable waterway can be navigated or sailed on.

A visible cartoon makes you laugh.
-cess, -cede = to go, to yield
precede, recedes, accede, secession

When you precede, you go before.

When your hairline recedes (you have a few years before you have to worry about that, right?), it goes backward.

When you accede to a request, you agree with it; go along with it; yield to it.

Secession is formal withdrawal, going away from (the southern states seceded from the Union just before the Civil War).
-cide = killing, to kill
genocide, uxoricide

Pesticide kills pests or insects.

Genocide is a killing of a race or group of people.

Here's a word that I learned in law school: uxoricide. Uxoricide is the murder of a wife by her husband. Many TV shows feature uxoricide episodes that are neatly solved by the detective in just 60 minutes.
-cis = cut
incision, excise

An incision is a cut.

To excise is to cut out, like excising a tumor. You use scissors to cut.

Interestingly, the word precise comes from this same root. A precise comment is exact, has cut off all excess and gotten right to the point.
-ette = little

A cigarette is a little cigar.

A dinette table is a little dining table.

A coquette is a little flirt (literally, a little chicken).
-ify (also -efy) = to make
ossify, deify

To beautify is to make beautiful.

To ossify is to make bone. (If you break your wrist, it takes weeks to ossify again; for the bone to regenerate.)

To deify is to make into a deity, a god.
-illo = little

An armadillo is a little armored animal.

A peccadillo is a little sin. (Do you speak Spanish? Pecar is to sin.)

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