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Word Analysis

In addition to the study of word origin, etymology also involves word analysis, which is the process of separating a word into its parts and then using the meanings of those parts to deduce the meaning of the original word. Take, for example, the word INTERMINABLE. It is made up of three parts: a prefix IN (not), a root TERMIN (stop), and a suffix ABLE (can do). Therefore, by word analysis, INTERMINABLE means “not able to stop.” This is not the literal meaning of INTERMINABLE (endless), but it is close enough to find an antonym. For another example, consider the word RETROSPECT. It is made up of the prefix RETRO (back) and the root SPECT (to look).  Hence, RETROSPECT means “to look back (in time), to contemplate.”

 

Word analysis is very effective in decoding the meaning of words. However, you must be careful in its application since words do not always have the same meaning as the sum of the meanings of their parts. In fact, on occasion words can have the opposite meaning of their parts. For example, by word analysis the word AWFUL should mean “full of awe,” or awe-inspiring. But over the years it has come to mean just the opposite—terrible. In spite of the shortcomings, word analysis gives the correct meaning of a word (or at least a hint of it) far more often than not and therefore is a useful tool.

Examples

Indefatigable
Analysis: IN (not); DE (thoroughly); FATIG (fatigue); ABLE (can do)
Meaning: cannot be fatigued, tireless
Circumspect
Analysis: CIRCUM (around); SPECT (to look)
Meaning: to look around, that is, to be cautious
Antipathy
Analysis: ANTI (against); PATH (to feel); Y (noun suffix)
Meaning: to feel strongly against something, to hate
Omniscient
Analysis: OMNI (all); SCI (to know); ENT (noun suffix)
Meaning: all-knowing
 

Prefixes

Prefix

Meaning

Example

1.ab

from

aberration

2.ad—also ac, af, ag, al,  an, ap, ar, as, at

to

adequate

3.ambi

both

ambidextrous

4.an—also a

without

anarchy

5.anti

against

antipathetic

6.ante

before

antecedent

7.be

throughout

belie

8.bi

two

bilateral

9.cata

down

catacomb

10.circum

around

circumscribe

11.com—also con, col, cor, cog, co

together

confluence

12.contra

against

contravene

13.de

down (negative)

debase

14.deca

ten

decathlon

15.decem

ten

decimal

16.di

two

digraph

17. dia

through, between

dialectic

18. dis

apart (negative)

disparity

19. du

two

duplicate

20. dys

abnormal, impaired

dysphoria

21. epi

upon

epicenter

22. equi

equal

equitable

23. ex

out

extricate

24. extra

beyond

extraterrestrial

25. fore

in front of

foreword

26.hemi

half

hemisphere

27.hyper

excessive

hyperbole

28.hypo

too little

hypothermia

29.in—also ig, il, im, ir

not

inefficient

30.in—also il, im, ir

in, very

invite, inflammable

31.inter

between

interloper

32.intro—also intra

inside

introspective

33.kilo

one thousand

kilogram

34.meta

changing

metaphysics

35.micro

small

microcosm

36.mili—also milli

one thousand

millipede

37.mis

bad, hate

misanthrope

38.mono

one

monopoly

39.multi

many

multifarious

40.neo

new

neophyte

41.nil—also nihil

nothing

nihilism

42.non

not

nonentity

43.ob—also oc, of, op

against

obstinate

44.pan

all

panegyric

45.para

beside

paranormal

46.per

throughout

permeate

47.peri

around

periscope

48.poly

many

polyglot

49.post

after

posterity

50.pre

before

predecessor

51.prim

first

primitive

52.pro

forward

procession

53.quad

four

quadruple

54.re

again

reiterate

55.retro

backward

retrograde

56.semi

half

semiliterate

57.sub—also suc, suf,  sug, sup, sus

under

succumb

58. super—also supra

above

superannuated

59.  syn—also sym, syl

together

synthesis

60. trans

across

transgression

61.un

not

unkempt

62.uni

one

unique

Roots

Root

Meaning

Example

1.ac

bitter, sharp

acrid

2.agog

leader

demagogue

3.agri—also agrari

field

agriculture

4.ali

other

alienate

5.alt

high

altostratus

6.alter

other

alternative

7.am

love

amiable

8.anim

soul

animadversion

9.anthrop

man, people

anthropology

10.arch

ruler

monarch

11.aud

hear

auditory

12.auto

self

autocracy

13.belli

war

bellicose

14.ben

good

benevolence

15.biblio

book

bibliophile

16.bio

life

biosphere

17.cap

take

caprice

18.capit

head

capitulate

19.carn

flesh

incarnate

20.ced

go

accede

21.celer

swift

accelerate

22.cent

one hundred

centurion

23.chron

time

chronology

24.cide

cut, kill

fratricide

25.cit

to call

recite

26.civ

citizen

civility

27.cord

heart

cordial

28.corp

body

corporeal

29.cosm

universe

cosmopolitan

30.crat

power

plutocrat

31.cred

belief

incredulous

32.cur

to care

curable

33.deb

debt

debit

34.dem

people

demagogue

35.dic

to say

Dictaphone

36.doc

to teach

doctorate

37.dynam

power

dynamism

38.ego

I

egocentric

39.err

to wander

errant

40.eu

good

euphemism

41.fac—also fic, fec, fect

to make

affectation

42.fall

false

infallible

43.fer

to carry

fertile

44.fid

faith

confidence

45.fin

end

finish

46.fort

strong

fortitude

47.gen

race, group

genocide

48.geo

earth

geology

49.germ

vital part

germane

50.gest

carry

gesticulate

51.gnosi

know

prognosis

52.grad—also gress

step

transgress

53.graph

writing

calligraphy

54.grav

heavy

gravitate

55.greg

crowd

egregious

56.habit

to have, live

habituate

57.hema—also hemo

blood

hemorrhage

58.hetero

different

heterogeneous

59.homo

same

homogenized

60.hum

earth, man

humble

61.jac—also jec

throw

interjection

62.jud

judge

judicious

63.junct—also join

combine

disjunctive

64.jus—also jur

law, to swear

adjure

65.leg

law

legislator

66.liber

free

libertine

67.lic

permit

illicit

68.loc

place

locomotion

69.log

word

logic

70.loqu

speak

soliloquy

71.macro

large

macrobiotics

72.magn

large

magnanimous

73.mal

bad

malevolent

74.manu

by hand

manuscript

75.matr

mother

matriarch

76.medi

middle

medieval

77.meter

measure

perimeter

78.mit—also miss

send

missive

79.morph

form, structure

anthropomorphic

80.mut

change

immutable

81.nat—also nasc

born

nascent

82.neg

deny

renegade

83.nomen

name

nominal

84.nov

new

innovative

85.omni

all

omniscient

86.oper—also opus

work

operative

87.pac—also plais

please

complaisant

88.pater—also patr

father

expatriate

89.path

disease, feeling

pathos

90.ped—also pod

foot

pedestal

91.pel—also puls

push

impulsive

92.pen

hang

appendix

93.phil

love

philanthropic

94.pict

paint

depict

95.poli

city

metropolis

96.port

carry

deportment

97.pos—also pon

to place

posit

98.pot

power

potentate

99.put

think

computer

100.rect—also reg

straight

rectitude

101.ridi—also risi

laughter

derision

102.rog

beg

interrogate

103.rupt

break

interruption

104.sanct

holy

sanctimonious

105.sangui

blood

sanguinary

106.sat

enough

satiate

107.sci

know

conscience

108.scrib—also script

to write

circumscribe

109.sequ—also secu

follow

sequence

110.simil—also simul

resembling

simile

111.solv—also solut

loosen

absolve

112.soph

wisdom

unsophisticated

113.spec

look

circumspect

114.spir

breathe

aspire

115.strict—also string

bind

astringent

116.stru

build

construe

117.tact—also tang, tig

touch

intangible

118.techni

skill

technique

119.tempor

time

temporal

120.ten

hold

tenacious

121.term

end

interminable

122.terr

earth

extraterrestrial

123.test

to witness

testimony

124.the

god

theocracy

125.therm

heat

thermodynamics

126.tom

cut

epitome

127.tort—also tors

twist

distortion

128.tract

draw, pull

abstract

129.trib

bestow

attribute

130.trud—also trus

push

protrude

131.tuit—also tut

teach

intuitive

132.ultima

last

penultimate

133.ultra

beyond

ultraviolet

134.urb

city

urbane

135.vac

empty

vacuous

136.val

strength, valor

valediction

137.ven

come

adventure

138.ver

true

veracity

139.verb

word

verbose

140.vest

clothe

travesty

141.vic

change

vicissitude

142.vit—also viv

alive

vivacious

143.voc

voice

vociferous

144.vol

wish

volition

Suffixes

Suffixes determine the part of speech a word belongs to. They are not as useful for determining a word’s meaning as are roots and prefixes. Nevertheless, there are a few that are helpful.

 

Suffix

Meaning

Example

1. able—also ible

capable of

legible

2. acy

state of

celibacy

3. ant

full of

luxuriant

4. ate

to make

consecrate

5. er, or

one who

censor

6. fic

making

traffic

7. ism

belief

monotheism

8. ist

one who

fascist

9. ize

to make

victimize

10. oid

like

steroid

11. ology

study of

biology

12. ose

full of

verbose

13. ous

full of

fatuous

14. tude

state of

rectitude

15. ure

state of, act

primogeniture





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