Root Words and Meaning O – R

There are hundreds of words in English that have roots in Latin and Greek, a lot of these words are similar to words in French, Italian and Spanish. Knowing the meanings of these word roots can help you guess the meanings of words you don’t know.

Many of these words are found most often in formal and academic English.

A root can be found in the beginning, middle or end of a word.




pater (Latin)


paternity, paternal, patron, patronise, perpetrate, patriot

path (Greek)

disease, feeling

sympathy, pathology, apathy, pathological, sociopath

ped, pod (La, Gk)


pedestrian, podiatrist, centipede, pedal, podium, pedestal

pend (Latin)


pendant, pendulum, suspend, pending, pendulous

phil (Greek)


philosophy, anglophile, Francophile, bibliophile

phob (Latin)


phobia, claustrophobia, arachnophobia, agoraphobia

phon (Greek)


phonology, telephone, phonetics, symphony, saxophone

phot, phos (Greek)


photograph, phosphorus, photon, photobiotic, photopathy

phys (Greek)

body, nature

physique, physics, physician, physiognomy, physiology

plex, plic (Latin)

fold, twist, bend

complex, complicate, inexplicable, accomplice, duplicity

poly (Greek)


polygon, polygamous, polyglot, polyhedron, Polynesia

port (Latin)


Portable, import, export, deport, report, portal, port

pos, pon (Latin)

place, put

deposit, postpone, component, opponent, exponent

psych (Greek)


psychology, psychic, psychiatry, psychosis, psychotic

quad (Latin)


quadrangle, quadruple, quadrant, quadruplet, quad

reg, rect (Latin)

rule, right

regulation, correct, regimented, rectify, regicide, direct

rupt (Latin)


rupture, interrupt, incorruptible, eruption, abrupt, corrupt


The suffix ‘ology’ means ‘subject of study’, so what do you think the following words mean?

pathology: ‘The pathologist carried out a postmortem examination of the body and informed the police’.

phonology: ‘Henry Higgins was a professor of phonology, he claimed he could identify where someone lived just from hearing them speak’.

psychology: ‘She’s a leading psychologist who works with psychopaths and murderers’.


The prefix ‘Anglo’ means ‘England’, so what do you think an ‘Anglophile’ is? ‘My American friend is a huge Anglophile, he loves the royal family and often adopts an English accent’.


The prefix ‘Franco’ means ‘France’, so what do you think a ‘Francophile’ might be? ‘


The root word ‘soph’ means ‘wisdom’, so what do you think ‘philosophy’ means? ‘Philosophy should be taught in schools, it’s important to learn how to think logically’.


Psych’ means mind and one of the meanings of ‘path’ is ‘disease’, so what is a ‘psychopath’? ‘Not all psychopaths are dangerous, a lot of CEOs in top companies display psychopathic traits, apparently’.

Check your ideas in the dictionary.