Etymology 101: Getting to the Root of the Root

Getting to the root of the “Root” word
 Etymology is the study of the etymon or origin of
 Last week, we discussed the meaning of words with the
roots ori, nat, gen, and kin. All of these words relate
back to the idea of BIRTH and the SOURCE.
 The etymon is the root meaning of the word.
 Etymology can increase the number of words a child
can learn per week.
 Etymology can help students learn at least 60 new words
per week.
 Europeans have used linguistics to socially control us via our
misunderstanding of language. By applying connotative or
additional/shaded meanings to words, we bury the denotative
meaning, which suppresses the true meaning of the word.
 The meaning of words all have a cultural context. Europeans
added connotative meanings to words to take the word out of its
cultural context; this causes misunderstanding or lack of
knowledge of ancient customs and practices.
 We want to get back to the principles and customs of our ancient
mothers and fathers so that we can use astrology, geometry,
metaphysics, and cosmology to heal ourselves and heighten our
 The key to developing ones’ vocabulary is etymology.
 Etymology: The study of the origins of words.
 Etym (true sense; origin) + ology (the study of)
 Etymology consists of
 Word Parts (Affixes and Roots)
 Word Origins (Latin; Greek; German; etc…)
 How words change over time
 Word cognates in various languages within a language family.
 A prefix is a word part that
is placed at the beginning
of a word.
 Pre (before) + fix (to
 Interview
 Other Examples:
 Review
 React
 Interact
 A prefix changes the meaning of a word
 Examples: construct; reconstruct; deconstruct
 Struct (the root) means to build
 Con + struct: to build together/with
 Re + con + struct: to build together again
 De + con + struct: to build down
 A prefix can function as
an intensifier.
 Example:
 Confirm: con + firm (to
make more firm). Firm
is a root indicating
 Obtain: ob + tain (a
stronger version of
attain). The root tain
means to stretch and
 A suffix is a word part that is
placed at the end of a word.
 Suff (after) + fix (to fasten)
 Other Examples:
 hopeful
 goodness
 lawful
 happiness
 A suffix can change the part of speech of a word
 Noun Suffix Endings
 -age: mileage; postage; damage
 -ship: fellowship; friendship; sportsmanship
 Verb Suffix Endings
 -ate (calculate; meditate; evaporate)
 - ize/ise (memorize; sympathize; comprise)
 Adjective Suffix Ending
 - able (capable; lovable)
 -al (national; natural; seasonal)
 Adverb Endings
 -ly (nationally; naturally; swiftly)
 - where (somewhere; anywhere)
 A word can have as many as three suffixes
 Example: constitution; constitutional; constitutionality
 Root: sti: to stand
 Con (prefix) + sti(tu) + tion
 Con (prefix) + sti(tu) + tion + al
 Con (prefix) + sti(tu) + tion + al + ity
 Suffixes have meanings
 Like
 Musical; comical; classical
 Fantastic; realistic; Slavic
 State of/Condition/Quality
 Appointment; retirement
 Insistence; patience; inheritance
 One who:
 Physician; musician; politician
 Teacher; barber; carpenter
 Artist; pianist; astrologist
What is the Root?
 The root is the main part of
a word. It is the part of the
word which the prefix and
suffix are fastened.
 Remember:
 pre (before) + fix (fasten)
 suf (after) + fix (fasten)
 Think of the roots as the
anchor that carries the
basic meaning of a word.
The root word part is like the
root of a plant. It carries
meaning or nutrients to allow a
word to blossom and grow.
 Cred: to believe
 Incredible:
 In (not) + cred (believe) + ible (able)
 Definition: not able to believe
 Creditor:
 Cred(it) + or (a person who)
 Definition: a person that determines whether you can be trusted
or believed
 Ject: to throw
 Reject:
 Re (back) + ject (throw):
 Definition: to throw
 Project:
 Pro (forward) + ject
 Definition: to throw
 Interject:
 Prefix: Inter
 Definition: to throw
con + spic + uous:
visible, open to view, striking
Re + sist
To stand against
Re + spect
To look back (and see someone); to regard
Re + sti(t) + ut(e) + ion
The quality or condition of standing again
In + stit + ut(e) + ion
To cause to stand (i.e. establish)
Re + par +at(e) + ion
The condition or quality of putting back in
order/arranging (par=to arrange; re=again)
E + stabl(e) + ish
To make stable
Re + gard (as in guard)
To look or to heed
Sub + ject
To throw under
Spec + (ul) + at(e) +ive
Describing something that has been looked at or examined
Which words have similar meanings
 Speculative; conspicuous
 Restitution; reparation
 Establish; institute
 Respect; regard
Think about your understanding of the word subject.
It is used in various contexts. One context is school.
Knowing the definition, why do you think they refer
to the different fields of study as “subjects”.
Another context of subject is to use it as a verb- to
subject a person to cruel and unusual punishment is
a violation of the Constitution. How does this relate
back to our understanding of the denotative
meaning of the word subject?
The word resist has the same root form as consist,
insist, and assist. Based on the change in prefix,
what is the meaning of the each of the three words
mentioned above?
 English is the youngest language on the planet; it is a
compilation of tongues of the world. We are often told that
these words are mostly from Latin and Greek; however,
most words can be traced back to Sanskrit, Hebrew, and
 Knowing the origin of words is important because it can
direct you to the basic and most fundamental meaning of a
 Words have connotative and denotative meanings (see
in slides later). Having knowledge of both will help you
understand more accurately many of the words with which
you already may be somewhat familiar.
 Denotation:
 This is the literal meaning of a word. It translates as
from the letters/markings. That is, the meaning is from
the original markings (see etymology).
 Connotation:
 This is the shaded/colored meaning. It translates as
added letters/markings
 Definition: a smell, a
 Definition: what can be
scent, an odor.
 Etymology: O.E. stenc;
Old Saxon stanc; Old
German stank- to emit a
smell. Evil odor
meaning applied in 1200
 Etymology: O.F. sentir;
Latin sentire- to feel,
perceive, sense, discern,
hear, see
refers to the language and people that
historically range from Europe to present day India.
Indo Europeans existed during Bronze Age and yet had
to split into sub-families, such as Armenian,
Albanian, Anatolian, , Baltics, Slavic, Celtic,
Germanic, Hellenic (Greek), Indo-Iranian /Aryan,
Italic, and Tocharian. There are 439 languages and
dialects amongst these sub-families, which further
break down into several hundred languages families.
 Note: Baltic and Slavic are often combined into one sub-
family group, called the Balto-Slavic language family.
 English is a Western Germanic language that follows a
Latin spelling pattern; thus, it appears to be a
Romance language, which is linguistically classified as
 We often look Proto-Indo-European roots of words
because their cognates in various languages hold the
same meaning. For example:
 Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is not a language, but a
reconstruction of a language said to be the ancestor of
modern Indo-European Languages. It was spoken in
an (as of yet) unidentified area between eastern
Europe and the Aral Sea around the fifth millennium
 American Heritage Dictionary
 PIE roots are the most basic form of the root of a word
to which it can be traced back to throughout the Indo
European family of languages. The map provides a
good indication of how this works.
 The roots gen, nat, nasc, and kin all share a PIE root.
The PIE for the above root is
which means Birth, Source, or Origin
 Basic Form: genƏ
 With Suffix: genƏ-es
 Latin: genus; race and kind
 Gender, general, genre, miscegenation
 Greek: genos and gena; race.
 Gene, genocide, genealogy, heterogeneous
 With suffix: gen(Ə)-yo
 Latin genius; procreative divinity; inborn
 Genial, genius, congenial
 With suffix gen(Ə)-men
 Latin: germen; shoot, bud, embryo
 Germinate, germane, germinal
 O-Grade Form: gonƏ, reduced to gon
 Greek: gonos, child, procreation, seed
 Gonad, gonadotherapy, aganogony
 Sanskrit: janah; off-spring, child, person
 Harijan
 Zero-grade form: gnƏ
 With Suffix: gnƏ-yo
 OE: cyn(n), race, family, kin
 Kin, kindred
 OE: cyning; king. From Germanic: kuningaz
 Both cyn and kuningaz come from Germanic kunjuam, family
 With Suffix: gnƏ-t; gnƏ-ti, gnƏ-to
 OE: cynd, gecynde(e); origin, birth, race, family, kind
 kind
 Germanic: kundjaz; race, family
 Latin: gens, from genti; race, clan
 Genteel, gentile, gentle, gentry, jaunty, gendarme
 Greek: genesis, birth, beginning
 Old High German: kind, kentham; child
 Kindergarten, Kriss Kringle, wunderkind
 Zero-Grade Form (con…)
 Sanskirt: jata; born
 Reduplicated form: gi-gn(Ə)
 Latin: gignere; to beget (past participle of genitus)
 Genital, progenitor, primogeniture, progeny, gingerly
 Reduced form: gn and suffix form –gn-o
 Latin: benignus, malignus; benign, malign
 Transliterated: gna
 Latin: praegnas
 Pregnant, impregnate
 Suffixed form: gnƏ-sko to gna-sko
 Latin: gnasic, nasci (past participle gnatus, natus)
 Natal, nation, nature, noel, cognate, Renaissance, Puny
 Reduced form: gn
 Sanskrit: krmi-ja
 The roots sti, sta, stat, sis, sist, and syst all share a PIE
 The PIE root for the above roots is
 Hint: look up words with the roots named above.
 Constitute; Station; Statistic; System; Consistent
StaWhich means to stand or remain in place
 Sta in Latin is stare or stat-.
 Old English stead, stod.
 Standan: to stand
 Stede: place
 Steal: place where cattle are kept
 In Old Norse standa.
 Stedi: anvil
 Stallr: pedestal for idols, altar
 In Old Saxon and Gothic standan (to stand)
 In Old High German stantan.
 In Swedish sta,
 Dutch staan,
 German
 Stehen
 Stall: stable
Old Irish
 Sessam: the act of standing
 Indo-Iranian
 Sanskrit: tisthati, (stands)
 Avenstan: histaiti, (to stand)
 Persian: stan (country; where one stands)
 Hellenic:
 Histemi: put, place, cause to stand; weigh,
 stasis: a standing still
 statos: placed
 stater: a weight; coin
 stylos: pillar
 Italic
 In Latin:
 Sister: stand still, stop, make stand, place, produce in court
 stare
 status: manner, position, condition, attitude
 statio: station, post
 Balto-Slavic
 Lithuanian:
 stojus (place myself)
 statau (place)
 Old Church Slavic:
 Staja (place myself)
 Stanu (position)
 Step 1: Identify the PIE for the following words:
 Actuary
 Affidavit
 Advisory
 Fealty
 Navigate
 Nice
 Scientific
 Soprano
 Sovereign
 Witness
 Answers to Step 1: Identifying the PIE root
 Actuary (act)- ag
 Affidavit (fid)- bheidh
 Advisory (vid)- weid
 Fealty (fea)- bheidh
 Navigate (ig)- ag
 Nice (sci)- skei
 Scientific (sci)- skei
 Soprano (sopra)- uper
 Sovereign (sover)- uper
 Witness (wit)-weid
 Step 2: Find three cognates in various Indo European
languages (preferably Latin, French, Old or Middle
English, Germanic, or Greek)
 Step 3: Give at least 5 other words in Modern English
with the same PIE root.
Look Up the following Words and Identify the Meaning based on
the Proto Indo European Root.
- bhel: to shine a bright color; white
- kel: to hide or conceal
- orbh: to change one’s allegiance; to pass
from one status to another
The legal meaning correlates to the derivative
meaning, as seen in “Black’s Law Dictionary” (4th
Blanc (French)
Blanco (Spanish)
bhleg- to shine, white
Black was not associated with “the pupil of the eye”
until as early as the 700s AD and as late as 1400s AD, in
Thank you for your time and attention. Feel free to
contact me with any questions or comments.
B.Selah Li-Bey
The Cultivated Mind Learning Program
Selah Educational Services LLC
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