How Latin Helps For College

 “the student studying for four years has a genuine interest in knowledge and education, not just in fulfilling minimum foreign language requirements.”
 - Matthew Potts, Admissions Counselor, University of Notre Dame

What college professors think about studying latin:

SAT Prep Vocabulary
and Latin Roots

If you need to build SAT prep vocabulary, there is no better way to do it than through the power of Latin roots. Just one Latin root word per week can help students learn a dozen or more English derivatives.

Take for example this basic Latin word:


to lead, conduct, draw, or bring forward

First we can create a short list of easy derivatives by adding prefixes to the root of this Latin verb. Often these words are appropriate for elementary vocabulary lists. For students, these words serve to clarify the basic meaning of the Latin root, setting the foundation for learning more advanced SAT prep vocabulary.

Elementary Vocabulary:

abduct (v): to lead away, to steal. Think child abduction, alien abduction.

conduct (v/n): to lead together. So a conductor leads the orchestra in playing a song, a boy conducts himself well in school, and water conducts electricity. See more words starting with the prefix con-.

deduct (v): to lead down from. If you deduct 5 from 7, you get 2.

introduce (v): to lead in or into. A famous man needs no introduction, as everyone already knows him.

produce (v/n): to lead forward, bring forth. A factory might produce clothing, baseball gloves, or chocolate candy. But at the grocery store, the produce section has foods brought forth from the earth: apples, lettuce, potatoes, et cetera.

reduce (v): to lead back. Your doctor may advise you to reduce your fat consumption, i.e. eat less pizza and more produce.

Intermediate Vocabulary:

duct (n): any tube, canal, or pipe through which a substance is carried. An air conditioning system uses ducts to carry cool air throughout a building.

aqueduct (n): a structure which leads or carries water for public use. From the Latin aquae ductus. Romans built marvelous gravity-driven aqueducts to provide water to there cities and towns.

induct (v): to bring or lead in as a member. Pete Rose has never been inducted into Baseball’s hall of fame.

induce (v): to lead into, i.e. to persuade or cause. Advertising induces people to buy things; some medicines may induce sleep.

reducible (adj): able to be reduced. We hope oil consumption is reducible, and that we can help save our environment. The fraction ¾ is not reducible.

reproduce (v): to lead forth again, to produce again. The reproduction of cells or rabbits.

SAT Prep Vocabulary:

duc (n): French for duke, i.e. a leader. E.g. the duc d’orleans.

conducive (adj): tending to produce, favorable, helpful. The library is conducive to study; the gym is conducive to exercise; Latin is conducive to building English vocabulary.

ductile (adj): able to be molded, shaped, drawn out, or lead. Gold is a ductile metal; clay is ductile material.

inductile (adj): not able to be molded, shaped, drawn out, or lead. Platinum is not as ductile as gold, in fact it is inductile; after baking, clay is inductile.

subduction (n): the act of leading or drawing under. In geology, the subduction of one crustal plate beneath another can cause volcanic or seismic activity.

deduction (n): the logical process of drawing conclusions from known facts. Sherlock Holmes used deductive reasoning to solve cases.

inductive (adj): leading in, producing, or bringing about. In reasoning, this is the opposite of deductive. Therefore, a process whereby the conclusion does not necessarily follow from the known facts. The grammar was taught inductively, by volume of readings and examples rather than by strict rules.

reducent (adj/n): tending to reduce; a reducing agent.

traduce (v): to speak badly or maliciously of, to slander. This derivative is a contraction of the Latin word transducere, meaning to draw over, but also meaning to dishonor or disgrace, especially in public. She traduced her enemies; he traduced his ex-wife after she left him.

Law "Law schools report that by yardsticks of law review and grades, their top students come from math, the Classics, and literature - with political science, economics, "pre - law," and "legal studies" ranking lower" (Harvard Magazine, May-June, 1998, p. 50)

Business "...shrewd employers, including many in the City, still prefer job-applicants whose minds were formed by Aeschylus or Horace" (London Times, 11 April 1991)

Medicine "So much of medical terminology is rooted in the Classics that studying Greek can facilitate study of anatomy for instance. But studying the Classics opens other doors that physicians tend to have closed just by the focused interest of their studies. Classics can be a vehicle for staying in touch with life - spiritual growth by reading the New Testament in its original language or cultural growth by reading the Iliad." (Dr. Eric Dahl, Director, The University of Mississippi Student Health Service)

Writing "It took Latin to thrust me into bona fide alliance with words in their true meaning. Learning Latin...fed my love for words upon words, words in continuation and modification, and the beautiful accretion of a sentence...." (Eudora Welty, One Writer's Beginnings, p. 31)

"It allows you to adore words, take them apart and find out where they came from." (Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss), NY Times, 2 March 2004)

Technology "If they could return to their undergraduate days, many IT workers say they would spend less time with Unix, networks and Windows and put more effort into getting to know Plato, Virginia Woolf and Pablo Picasso. Nearly 40% of IT workers said that they would major in a nontechnical subject area if they could return to college, according to a new survey..." (CNN interactive, 4 July 1998)
  " I would trade all of my technology for an afternoon with Socrates." (NewsWeek, 29 Oct 2001)

Teaching "...the sharpest appetite is for Latin majors...Recruiters are eager to find college graduates who majored in Latin because high school students in significant numbers continue to want to study it." (LA Times, 5 October 1999)

American History "One of the regrets of my life is that I did not study Latin. I'm absolutely convinced, the more I understand these eighteenth-century people, that it was that grounding in Greek and Latin that gave them their sense of the classic virtues:the classic ideals of honor, virtue, the good society and their historic examples of what they could try to live up to." (David McCullough, Historian and author, on understanding the Founding Fathers