Root words list and tutorial

Root words are important, this article explains why and provides a printable list of root words.

Root words list

Have you ever wondered about words and their origin? What do you know about root words? If this is your first time hearing about a root word then you should continue reading. You will find out why it matters and whether should you memorize the whole root words list to brag to your friends.

What is a Root Word?

A root word is an English word without any suffix or prefix attached. When you add them to the word, it may change the original meaning. You may think that all root words are Latin or Greek-based. However, that is a traditional understanding of what a root word is. Nowadays, most English words come from other English words.

Meter, legal, crypt, and act are some of the common examples of root words. When you add a prefix to the word “meter“, you can get kilometer, centimeter, and so on. This addition changes the meaning of the actual word and shows a different measurement.

Why You Should Know

Knowing a root word can help you a lot. Especially when you’re learning a new word or reading something unusual. You don’t have to be pursuing higher education to learn new words. This skill can be very helpful when you’re in a conversation and when preparing for a spelling bee. It also works as an icebreaker in many situations.

Is it a base or root word?

It’s easy to confuse base words with root words, but there are several differences between base and root. Of course, most of the words overlap and are both base and root. It sure makes you wonder if you should memorize the root words list to differentiate it from the base words.

A base word is an English word that you can use independently. It works as a standalone after you add a prefix and suffix. Whereas root work may not work independently.

Another difference is the change in meaning. Adding a prefix or suffix to a base word may not always change the meaning. While for a root word, the addition is most likely to change the meaning.

For example, the root word “marine“. As a root word, it means the sea environment. But when you add the prefix sub– and it becomes “submarine“, a vehicle to travel undersea. Add the suffixer, then you will get “mariner” or the person who is working on the sea.

Some fun examples

You also can add another word to the root and give it an entirely new meaning.  For example, “sunflower” comes from adding the word “sun” to the root word “flower.”

Another example is the root word “fish.” You can add the word “jelly” before the “fish” and it becomes “jellyfish“. It refers to a unique species that looks like a jelly yet lives underwater like a fish.

Root Words List

Act Form Pack
Ambi Fort Pater
Anthrop Fract Phobia
Anti Friend Photo
Appear Graph Place
Aqua Heat Play
Arbor Hetero Port
Astro Homo Pseudo
Aud Hydr Psycho
Auto Hypo Read
Behave Intra Rupt
Bene Ject Scope
Bio Jud Scrib
Break Kind Sect
Cardio Legal Sent
Care Logy Struct
Cent Love Techno
Chron Mal Tele
Circum Marine Therm
Contra Mater Use
Crypt Meter Vid
Crypt Micro View
Dict Mis Voc
Dyna Morph Want
Ego Multi Worth
Employ Norm Zoo
Equi Nym
Fact Omni
Print Table

Prepositions list: PDF, Flashcards and SBN formats


Remember that the meaning will not stray very far from the root word. However, it sure gives you a new perspective on the words and what you can do. You can be creative with the root words list and try to figure out the new words and meanings.