Word Roots and Meaning A, B, C

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, Spanish, Portuguese and Romanian. 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.





agr (Latin)

field, country

agriculture, agrarian, agronomy

ann (Latin)


annual, anniversary, annuity, biennial

anthrop (Greek)


anthropology, anthropomorphic, misanthrope, philanthropist

aqua (Latin)


aquarium, aquatic, aquaplane, aqualung

astro, aster (Greek)


astrology, astronomy, astrophysics, astronomical, asterisks

audi (Latin)


audience, audio-visual, audible, audio, auditorium

blibli (Greek)


bibliography, bible, bibliophile

bio (Greek)


biology, biotech(nology), biotic, biofuel, biography

capit (Latin)


capital, capitalisation, decapitate

card (Latin)


cardiology, cardiac, cardinal

cede, ceed (Latin)

go away from

recede, proceed, intercede, secede, succeed  

celer (Latin)


accelerate, accelerator, decelerate

cent (Latin)

one hundred

century, percent, centipede, cent, centigrade

chron (Greek)


chronology, chronic, chronicle, chronological, synchronized

clud, clus (Latin)


conclusion, exclusion, inclusion, include, seclusion

corp (Latin)


corporal, incorporate, corpse, corporation, corps

cosm (Greek)


microcosm, cosmos, cosmopolitan, cosmic

cred (Latin)


credible, credentials, credit, incredible, credulous


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

Anthropology: ‘She’d always loved travelling and languages, so she chose to study anthropology at university’.

Astrology: ‘No-one takes him seriously because he’s obsessed with astrology‘.

Audiology: ‘He never seems to hear me, I’ve arranged an audiology appointment for him.’

Biology: ‘She’s doing all the sciences: Chemistry, Biology and Physics’.

Cardiology: ‘When his father died of a heart attack at an early age, he decided to become a cardiologist.’


The suffix ‘graphy’ means ‘field of study’ or is related to ‘writing’, so what do you think these words mean?

Bibliography: ‘I’ve finished my essay, I just need to finish compiling the bibliography‘.

Biography: ‘He wrote a fascinating biography on J.K Rowling, she’s had such an interesting life’.


The root ‘morph’ means ‘change in form or shape’, so what do you think this word might mean?

Anthropomorphic: ‘Beatrix Potter anthropomorphised animals, giving them lifestyles, desires and motivations we can all relate to’.


The suffix ‘phil’ means ‘love’, so what do you think these words mean?

Philanthropist: ‘She was a great philanthropist, building and funding hospitals and clinics’.

Bibliophile: ‘He’s a well-known bibliophile, you can usually find him in a library or bookshop’.


Check your ideas in the dictionary.