Literacy in science

Word roots II - from modern foreign languages




Word roots in science- I

Greek and Latin roots

Word roots are pieces of words from the Latin or Greek, which are used to form scientific words.

Learning some word roots is very useful to understand scientific words in general. it will help you to understand the meaning of many words. It will also help you to remember words, and to make them look more familiar. You can even start to guess the meaning of words which you have never seen before.

Below there is a list of common word roots, with examples:

Card –    heart  ( cardiologist, myocardium)

-oid -     resembling (humanoid, android) metalloid

So, what about cardioid (resembling a heart)?

It is shape studied in maths.

Arthr-    joint   (arthropods)

-ites      infection (meningitis)

so,   arthritis   :   infection of a joint

Meta-    transformation  :    metal  (Alchemy - the quest for transforming substances into gold)

Metamorphism (rock cycle)

Metamorphosis  (life cycles)
-morphos - shape

amorphous material (glass) x crystalline material (quartz)

-vor-   feeding

insectivore, carnivore,herbivore


aer-    oxygen

a, an - no

aerobic respiration; as opposed to anaerobic respiration (fermentation : respiration without oxygen)

anarchy - absence of government

atom - not divisible

dia-   across  (dialysis)

dialogue : getting the message across

diameter  : distance across the circumference (don't confuse it with radius because this one goes all the way across and the radius is only from the middle to the edge).

Diamagnetism  - all elements, and not only iron and cobalt, display this type of magnetism

meta - transformation

metamorphosis: shape transformation: takes place in the life cycle of butterflies and other flying insects.

metabolism: set of transformations undertaken by substances inside living things, in order to produce energy and the substances they need. Usually studied by biochemists.

photo - light

graph - write

photography, photosynthesis


hydro - water

hydroelectric energy, hydrocarbons : compounds that consist of carbon and water(hydrogen+oxygen: H2O)

gyn - female

gynecologist ,vagina


lysis - to break

hydrolysis reaction- chemical reaction where a molecule is broken down in water, e.g., the hydrolysis of ATP and of polysaccarides

lysossomes - cell organelles respnsible for breaking down invading pathogens or cell waste



there are much more, keep learning word roots, they wil be very useful to you...

Look also word roots from modern foreign languages


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