Top 80 List of Root Words For Writers

Here is our list of root words to help you with your writing.

Root words are essential to help readers understand the meaning of new English words derived from the original ones. They’re critical to improving vocabulary. Learning root words aids in developing excellent grammar and syntax as a writer. Read through this article to know how to apply these words in your writing.

What Is a Root Word?

Top List of Root Words
Note that root and base words are similar but not interchangeable

A root word is a complete word that has its own meaning. You can’t possibly reduce a root word to a shorter one that still makes sense. People use root words in writing and speaking as they contain the core meaning of a word. 

They’re also vital in forming new words included in dictionaries. These words may have similar or completely different meanings through prefixes and suffixes. Note that root and base words are similar but not interchangeable, this is because base words can stand alone but not every root word can be used as an independent word.

Below are examples of modern and traditional root words used in almost every English word today:

Ambi FriendPater
AudHydr Pseudo
Auto HypoPsycho
BeneJect Rupt
Crypt MeterUse

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English Root Words

Modern English root words can stand alone as a complete word. They’re also known as free morphemes. These words don’t need suffixes or prefixes to be part of the English language; they can also be a basis to form another word. Here are some examples of modern root words and how to use them as part of another English word:

  1. Act – Actor

William was hailed as the best actor in the stage play competition.

  1. Appear – Appearance

She worries so much about her appearance that it’s starting to affect her mental health.

  1. Behave – Behavior

He’s only getting a lot of attention because of his bad behavior.

  1. Break – Breaking

Breaking the fourth wall is a great way to connect with your audience.

  1. Care – Careful

She always reminds her son to be careful wherever he goes.

  1. Crypt – Cryptic

You will need a guide to solve that cryptic crossword.

  1. Ego – Egomaniac

Being an egomaniac is a red flag many want to avoid in their relationships.

  1. Employ – Unemployment

Last month, America recorded a 3.5% unemployment percentage, which is still within the ideal unemployment rate of 3% to 5%.

  1. Friend – Friendly

Everyone likes her because she’s a very friendly person.

  1. Form – Formulate

Formulating a new design for this project in the short period they allotted us was challenging.

  1. Heat – Reheat

Instead of buying hot food, she prefers to reheat her leftovers to save money.

  1. Legal – Illegal

He believes downloading pirated copies of movies from the internet should not be illegal.

  1. Marine – Submarine

I’m frightened and intrigued by a submarine‘s mechanisms.

  1. Meter – Kilometer

There’s a total of 1,000,000 millimeters per kilometer.

  1. Norm – Paranormal

They want to hire a paranormal expert to solve this supernatural case.

  1. Place – Replace

Her employer promised to replace her if she didn’t change her attitude.

  1. Play – Player

Dennis is such an exceptional player that the head coach told him he should pursue a professional career out of it.

  1. Use – Misuse

When rulers misuse their power, the whole kingdom suffers.

  1. View – Preview

Her favorite band shared a preview of their upcoming album.

  1. Want – Wanted

All I ever wanted was to feel like I belonged; is that too much to ask? Check out this list of er words.

Traditional Root Words: Latin

Most English words have a Latin and Greek foundation. It’s the reason they’re called “traditional root words.” This type is the opposite of modern root words and needs to be attached to another word or affixes to be a complete word. Identifying words with Latin and Greek roots is not easy, so here’s a list of examples to help you become more familiar with them:

  1. Aqua (Water) – Aquamarine

Cleo’s new aquamarine hair suits her very much; it makes her look like she just came out of a movie about mermaids.

  1. Aud (Hear) – Audience

You need to shock the audience, so they don’t easily forget your performance.

  1. Bene (Well) – Beneficial

Daily morning exercises are beneficial to one’s health.

  1. Circum (Around) – Circumstance

Unfortunately, her current circumstance doesn’t let her keep her children.

  1. Contra 9Against) – Contrary

Contrary to everyone’s expectations, James wins the competition.

  1. Dict (Say) – Dictate

Don’t let other people dictate your life, do what you want.

  1. Fact (Made) – Factory

Her mother has worked at the shoe factory for over five years.

  1. Ject (Throw) – Reject

Apple pickers carefully choose good apples and reject the bad ones.

  1. Jud (Judge) – Judicial

The victim’s attorney is seeking judicial review of the decision.

  1. Mal (Bad) – Malignant

The doctor explains that the old lady’s cancer is malignant; they can’t do anything about it anymore.

  1. Mater (Mother) – Maternity

Nurse Angela likes to work in the hospital’s maternity unit.

  1. Multi (Much, Many) – Multiple

The Mona Lisa’s popularity hangs on her smile; experts argue that it has multiple meanings.

  1. Pater (Father) – Paternal

Because his father died when he was young, Kean always wonders what paternal love feels like.

  1. Port (Carry) – Transport

He prefers public transport even if he has a car since it’s cheaper.

  1. Rupt (Burst) – Disruption

The bombing strikes are causing massive disruption in the country.

  1. Sect (Cut) – Dissect

Aya proudly says that she knows how to dissect a frog.

  1. Sent (Feel) – Consent

Parents must sign a consent form declaring they permit their children to participate in the summer camp.

  1. Struct (Build, Assemble) – Restructure

He wants to restructure their house to eliminate clutter and make it look more inviting.

  1. Voc (Call) – Advocate

She’s an advocate for the deaf and mute, pushing laws requiring public establishments to have a representative who can help and communicate with them.

  1. Vid (See) – Video

There’s a CCTV video that captured the bank robbery.

Traditional Root Words: Greek

Latin and Greek prefixes, suffixes, and traditional root words are all examples of bound morphemes. To make a new word, bound morphemes need to be attached to one another or other morphemes. It’s why most words with Latin and Greek roots end or start with “dis,” “em,” “over,” “pre,” “able,” “ing,” “tion,” etc. Check the list of English words with Greek roots below to correctly use them in teaching or writing.

  1. Anti (Against) – Antisocial

An antisocial personality disorder is a severe condition where the person disregards other people’s rights and feelings.

  1. Auto (Self) – Automatic

Cecile and her father are arguing whether automatic cars are better than manual cars.

  1. Bio (Life) – Biology

Biology is an exciting subject with many subbranches explaining living things’ origins, behaviors, and classes.

  1. Chron (Time) – Chronological

The new employee likes to put the files in chronological order.

  1. Dyna (Power) – Dynamite

No one has the right to use dynamite when fishing.

  1. Graph (Write) – Graphic

Henry is an excellent graphic artist, and he’s good at exceeding his client’s expectations.

  1. Hetero (Another) – Heterosexual

I still believe that gay and lesbian pairs will one day have the same rights as heterosexual couples.

  1. Hydr (Water) – Dehydrate

Fevers can quickly dehydrate your body, so you must drink lots of water.

  1. Logy (Discipline, Field of Study, List of) – Psychology

She is taking psychology to understand herself and other people better.

  1. Micro (Small) – Microscope

You need to carefully put the specimen under the microscope if you don’t want the slides to break.

  1. Morph (Shape) – Morphing

The film shows the leading actor morphing into a giant wolf.

  1. Nym (Name, Word) – Synonym

A synonym refers to words that have the same or similar meanings.

  1. Phobia (Fear) – Claustrophobia

Her severe claustrophobia doesn’t let her ride any elevator. 

  1. Photo (Light) – Photography

Jake wants to enroll in photography classes this semester. 

  1. Pseudo (False, Lying) – Pseudonym

She writes her excellent stories under a pseudonym.

  1. Psycho (Soul, Mind, Breath, Spirit) – Psychopath

Excessive use of alcohol and drugs can turn an individual into a psychopath.

  1. Scope (See) – Stethoscope

The doctor uses a stethoscope to listen to the heart’s murmur.

  1. Techno (Skill, Art)  – Technological

Because of financial issues, Lino’s parents ask him to enroll in a technological institute instead of a university.

  1. Tele (Far off) – Telegram

His grandfather has a stack of old telegrams containing Morse codes and other important information.

  1. Therm (Heat) – Thermometer

I can’t believe my doctor still uses a traditional thermometer to see if I have a fever instead of a thermometer gun.

Common Root Words

Because people use root words so often, you won’t be able to notice these words unless you’re familiar with them. To strengthen your vocabulary and be comfortable using them in your writing, here are more examples of roots and common words formed by adding prefixes, suffixes, or both:

  1. Ambi (Both) – Ambiguous

The government always seems to be ambiguous on this issue.

  1. Anthrop (Human) – Philanthropy

Her idol always donates to various charitable institutions and devotes a lot of time and effort to philanthropy.

  1. Astro (Star) – Astronaut

Mino knows that NASA has strict requirements to be an astronaut, but he is serious about being one in the future.

  1. Cardio (Heart) – Cardiovascular

Smoking puts anyone at a higher risk of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

  1. Cent (Hundredth) – Century

Living in medieval castles shows how wealthy and powerful the royal family was during the 11th century.

  1. Equi (Equal) – Equity

The brand owner plans to raise the company’s return on equity to 25%.

  1. Fort (Strong) – Fortress

The general explained that the easiest way to capture the enemy’s fortress was from the inside.

  1. Fract (Part of) – Fraction

He needs to save money, so he only spends a fraction of his monthly income.

  1. Homo (Same) – Homogenous

To avoid issues, all club members must have homogenous taste in music.

  1. Hypo (Under) – Hypothermia

Seven mountaineers are suffering from hypothermia after the avalanche.

  1. Intra (Within) – Intramural

Kenneth wants to participate in this year’s intramural, but he can’t decide what sport he wants to join. 

  1. Kind – Kindness

Lia prays she inherits her mother’s intelligence and kindness.

  1. Love – Lovely

You look much shorter than I remember, but you’re still as lovely as ever.

  1. Mis (Wrongly) – Misspell

To ensure you have a high-quality paper, do not misspell words, check grammar, and avoid typos.

  1. Omni (All) – Omnipotent

My mom explains that money isn’t omnipotent, but people can’t survive in this world without it.

  1. Pack – Packing

Jillian has been packing her things since this morning, preparing for her flight tomorrow. 

  1. Read – Reading

Mia enjoys reading and doing her assignments on their school’s rooftop rather than in the library.

  1. Scrib (Writes) – Prescribes

After her checkup, the doctor prescribes some medications to lessen the pain in her stomach.

  1. Worth – Unworthy

The humble student feels unworthy to receive the award, but his family and friends assure him that he does and are proud of him.

  1. Zoo (Animal) – Zoophobia

Aina’s date takes her to a zoo without knowing she has zoophobia.

Expanding your vocabulary is critical to improving writing. See our list of emotion words you can use to express your thoughts better.


  • Maria Caballero is a freelance writer who has been writing since high school. She believes that to be a writer doesn't only refer to excellent syntax and semantics but also knowing how to weave words together to communicate to any reader effectively.