Scientists give names to new discoveries, concepts, theories
and inventions using classical Latin and Greek roots, prefixes and
suffixes. Since these languages are no
longer spoken (they were replaced by modern Greek and Italian), meanings do not
change. For example, the ancient Greeks
used the word
heat, and today we use the root therm
to mean “heat” in a variety of English words such as homeotherm, thermometer, thermistor, ectotherm, poikilotherm,
thermophilic, thermoregulation, thermochemistry, endothermic, exothermic,
thermite, thermodynamics, thermoelectric, thermocouple, thermonuclear, thermal,
. A simple science root word can provide clues
to numerous other words, greatly reducing the amount of memorization necessary
to master this new vocabulary, and making it easier for people from different
countries to understand!
A knowledge of Greek and Latin root words can greatly
enhance student understanding of scientific terms and provide a better understanding
of English and other European languages.
Approximately 50% of all words in English have Latin roots, many of
which are shared by Spanish, French, Portuguese and Italian. Learning scientific root words thereby helps
one understand the vocabulary of a variety of languages, particularly
English. The activities in this chapter
focus on scientific terms, but the roots are used in other words as well. For example, the prefix anti- means against, or opposite as seen in the following
scientific terms: antiseptic, antibiotic,
antigen, antibody, antibacterial, antioxidant, anticodon, antacid, antinodes,
antimatter, antiquark, antiparticle, anticline, and anticyclone. This same
prefix is used in many non-scientific terms as well, such as anticlimactic, antifreeze, antiperspirant,
antidepressant, and antiterrorism. Thus, an understanding of the roots
introduced in this chapter helps one master both scientific and nonscientific
terms and become more proficient in the use of language.
Building a Root Word Glossary
- Choose a difficult term in your discipline and enter in the appropriate column in the Root Word Glossary. Identify the prefixes, suffixes and roots and place in the appropriate columns
- Identify the meanings of these terms. You may use YourDictionary to accomplish this.
- Provide additional examples of the use of each prefix, suffix or root word. You may use OneLook to accomplish this.
Analyzing Scientific Terms
- Analyze the roots and determine its meaning; Visualization of this word.
- Building a slide show to illustrate analyses of scientific terms.
- Example 1 - Scientific terms
- Example 2 - variety of terms