Latin roots: a comprehensive guide

As a language, English has been greatly influenced by Latin. To this day, many vocabulary words that English speakers use every day contain Latin roots.

Here is a list of some of the most common Latin roots which appear in English words:

The most common Latin roots

nav

The Latin root “nav” comes from the Latin word “navis,” which means “ship”. Examples of English words containing this root are “naval,” “navy,” and “navigation”.

nat

The Latin root “nat” originates from the Latin word “natus,” which means “born”. The English words “natal,” “native,” and “natality” contain this root.

fili

The Latin root “fili” comes from the word “filius,” which means “son” in Latin. This root appears in English words such as “filial” and “affiliation”.

frater

This root comes from the Latin word “frater,” which means “brother”. The English words “fraternal” and “fraternity” contain this Latin root.

lum

The Latin root “lum” comes from the Latin noun “lumen,” which means “a light”. Some examples of English words containing this root are the verb “to illuminate,” the adjective “luminescent,” and the noun “luminary”.

arbor

The Latin root “arbor” means “tree”. This root appears in English vocabulary words such as “arborescence” (a tree-like structure) and “arboretum” (a place where different varieties of trees are planted), as well as the adjective “arboreal”.

stella

The Latin root “stella” is the Latin word for “star”. This root is found in English vocabulary words such as the adjective “stellar” (which means having the characteristics of a star) and the noun “constellation” (an astronomy term referring to a formation of stars).

magn

The Latin root “magn” comes from the Latin adjective “magnus” which means “great”. This root is found in English vocabulary words such as “magnificent”, “magnanimous” and the verb “to magnify”.

mat

The Latin root “mat” is derived from the Latin word “mater” which means “mother”. This root appears in the English words “maternal” and “maternity”.

lun

The Latin root “lun” originates from the Latin noun “luna” which means “moon”. This is the root of the English adjective “lunar” (pertaining to the moon), and “lunatic”.

fort

The Latin root “fort” comes from the Latin adjective “fortis” which means “strong”. This is the root of the English verb “to fortify” and the noun “fortification”.

lac

The Latin root “lac” is the Latin word for “milk”. This root is found in the English verb “to lactate” as well as the word “lactose” (a sugar found in milk).

lingu

The Latin root “lingu” comes from the Latin noun “lingua” which means “language”. This is the root of the English words “linguistics”, “bilingual” and “multilingual”.

annu

The Latin root “annu” comes from the Latin word “annuum” which means “a year”. This root is found in the English vocabulary words “annuity” and “annual”.

don

The Latin root “don” comes from the Latin word “donum” which means “a gift”. This is the root of the English vocabulary words “donation” and “donor”.

aqua

The Latin root “aqua” originates directly from the Latin word “aqua” which means “water”. This root appears in the English vocabulary words “aquatic” and “aquarium”.

vac

The Latin root “vac” is derived from the Latin verb “vacare” which means “to empty”. This root appears in English vocabulary words such as the verb “to vacate”, and the noun “vacuum”.

doc

The Latin root “doc” comes from the Latin verb “docere” which means “to teach”. This is the root of the English words “doctrine”, “doctorate”, and “document”.

liber

The word “liber” is a Latin root which can be found in English words such as “liberty” and “liberalism”. This word means “free” in the Latin language.

pater

The words “paternal” and “patriarch” are both examples of English words which contain the Latin root “pater,” meaning “father”.

fem

The Latin root “fem” comes from the word “femina” which means “woman” in Latin. Words such as “female”, “feminine,” and “feminist” have been derived from this common Latin root.

viv

Words such as “vivid,” “survive,” and “vivacious” are all derived from the Latin root “viv,” which comes from the Latin verb “vivere”, which means “to live”.

More Latin roots

aev/ev

The Latin root “aev” (or “ev”) comes from the word “aevum,” which means “age”. English words such as “longevity,” “medieval,” and “primeval” are derived from it.

anim

The Latin root “anim” comes from the word “anima,” which means “soul” in Latin. There are many English words that have been derived from this root, such as “animal,” “animosity,” and “animation”.

cept

This Latin root comes from the word “capere,” which means “to take” or “to seize”. English words such as “deception,” “to accept,” and “concept” have all been derived from cept.

cred

In Latin, “cred” comes from the verb “credere,” which means “to trust” or “to believe”. There are many English words that are derived from this root, such as “accreditation,” “credentials,” and “to discredit”.

cur

The roo “cur” comes from the word “cura,” which means “care” in Latin. English words such as “security,” “accurate,” and “curious” all come from this Latin root.

dic

“Dic” (or “dict”) comes from the verb “dicere,” which means “to say” in Latin. Words such as “to contradict,” “to dictate,” and “to predict” have all been derived from this particular root.

duc

English words such as “to deduce,” “to produce,” and “to reduce” all come from the Latin root “duc”. The root origin, the verb “ducere,” means “to lead”.

empt

In English, the root “empt” (or “em”) can be found in words such as “exempt” and “irredeemable”. This Latin root comes from the verb “emere,” which means “to buy”.

fac

The Latin root “fac” (or “fact”) comes from the verb “facere,” which means “to make”. Other than it being the root of the commonly used English word “fact,” it can also be found in words such as “benefactor,” “satisfaction,” and “artifact”.

fer

In English, “fer” can be found in words such as “conference,” “to prefer,” and “fertile”. “Fer” comes from the verb “ferre,” which means “to carry” or “to bear” in Latin.

fic

In Latin, “fic” comes from the verb “facere,” which means “to make” or “to do”. English language words such as “magnificent,” “deficient,” and “sacrifice” have all been derived from this common Latin root.

fin

“Fin” comes from the word “finis,” which means “to end” in Latin. Words such as “final,” “definition,” and “fine” have been derived from this Latin root.

flu

While the word “flu” has meaning in English on its own, it is actually a Latin root as well. Flu can be found in many different English words that people use on a day-to-day basis, such as “influence,” “fluid,” and “fluency”. This root comes from the Latin origin word “fluere,” which means “to flow”.

gress

“Gress” comes from the word “gradi” (or “gressus”), which means “to walk” or “to step” in Latin. This root is the origin word for words such as “to digress,” “aggressive,” and “transgressor”.

hal

The English words “to inhale,” “to exhale,” and “exhalant” come from the Latin root “hal”. The origin word of this root is the verb “halare,” which means “to breathe”.

insul

“Insul” comes from the word “insula,” which means “island” in Latin. It is the root of English words such as “insular” and “insulation”.

jac

“Jac” comes from the word “jaceo,” which means “to be thrown” in Latin. However, the root jac is often understood to mean “lie” in English. This root word can be found in English words such as “adjacent” and “circumjacent”.

ject

“Ject” is a Latin root that is commonly found in many English words, such as “to eject,” “project,” or “rejection”. “Ject” comes from the verb “jacio,” which means “to throw” in Latin.

junct

In Latin, “junct” or “jung” comes from the verb “jungo,” which means “to join”. In English, many words are derived from this root. For example, “junction,” “juncture,” and “subjunctive”.

jur

Words such as “jury,” “to abjure,” and “to conjure” come from the Latin root “jur”. The origin word of this root is “ius,” which means “law”.

lect

“Lect” is a Latin root that is used in English words such as “collection,” “intellect,” and “election”. It comes from the verb “legere,” which means “to choose” or “to gather”.

man

Words such as “manicure,” “manuscript,” and “to manipulate” are all derived from the Latin root “man,” which comes from the word “manus,” meaning “hand”.

memor

The root word “memor” means “remember” in Latin. There are many English words that have been derived from this root, such as “to commemorate” or “memoir”.

merge

In Latin, “merge” comes from the verb “mergere,” which means “to plunge” or “to dip”. The words “to emerge” and “to submerge” are both examples of English words which contain the Latin root “merge”.

miser

“Miser” is a Latin root that is used in many common English words. It means “unhappy” or “wretched” and can be found in words such as “commiseration,” “misery,” and “miserable”.

mit

Another common Latin root, “mit” (or “miss”) comes from the verb “mittere,” which means “to send”. Words such as “submissive” and “to omit,” are based on this Latin root.

mod

“Mod” comes from the word “modus,” which means “measure” or “method” in Latin. Words such as “immodest,” “mode,” and “model” have all been derived from it.

pass

“Pass” is a Latin root word which comes from the word “passus,” meaning “pace”. Words such as “passage” come from this common Latin root.

pend

“Pend” (or “pens”) is an extremely common Latin root that many English words are derived from. These are, for example, words such as “to append,” “to depend,” “pendant,” and “suspense”. “Pend” comes from the Latin verb “pensare” (or “pendere”), which means “to hang” in Latin.

ple

This Latin root comes from the verb “plere,” and it means “to fill” in Latin. The words “to deplete,” “complete,” and “supplementary” are all examples of words which contain this common Latin root.

plic

The root word “plic” comes from the verb “plicare,” which means “to fold” in Latin. Words such as “to replicate,” “application,” and “complicated” have all been derived from this common root.

port

The words “comport,” “deport,” and “report” are all derived from the Latin root “port,” which comes from the verb “portare,” meaning “to carry”.

posit

In the Latin language, posit comes from the verb “ponere,” which means “to put”. The words “opposite,” “position,” and “deposit” are all examples of English words which contain this common Latin root.

rect

The words “correct,” “director,” and “rectangle” are all examples of English words which contain the Latin root “rect”. “Rect” comes from the verb “regere,” which means “to direct”.

regul

In Latin, the root word “regul” comes from the noun “regula,” which means “rule”. Words such as “regular” and “regulation” come from this root.

sacr

The Latin root word “sacr” (or “secr”) comes from the verb sacrare, which means “to consecrate” or “to swear”. It can be found in English language words such as “to consecrate,” “sacred,” and “sacrifice”.

sequ

“Sequ” is a Latin root that can be found in many different English words. These are, for example, words such as “subsequent,” “sequence,” and “sequel”. “Sequ” comes from the verb “sequere,” which means “to follow” in Latin.

sole

Words such as “insolence,” “insolent,” and “obsolete” come from the Latin root “sole,” which comes from “solere,” meaning “accustomed” or “in the habit of”.

somn

Somn comes from the word “somnus,” which means “sleep” in the Latin language. English words such as “insomnia,” “somnolent,” and “somnambulist” have been derived from this root.

son

“Son” is a Latin root that many English words, such as “unison,” “sonic,” and “consonant,” are based on. In Latin, son comes from the word “sonus,” which means “noise” or “sound”.

spect

The Latin root spect comes from the verb “spectare,” which means “to look at”. It is the root of English words such as “spectator” and “spectacular”.

sper

“Sper” comes from the verb “sperare,” which means “to hope” in Latin. Some English words that have been derived from this root include “desperate” and “to prosper”.

stru

“Stru” comes from the verb “struere,” which means “to build” or “to construct” in Latin. There are many English words that contain this Latin root, such as “constructive,” “instruct,” and “structural”.

ten

The Latin root ten comes from the verb “tenere,” which means “to hold”. It is the root of English words such as “tenant,” “maintenance,” and “tenor”. Other words derived from this word include “sustenance” and “tenure”.

terr

This Latin root comes from the noun “terra,” which means “earth” or “land”. Words derived from this root include “extra-terrestrial,” “terracotta,” and “subterranean”.

tract

In Latin, “tract” comes from the verb “tractare,” which means “to pull” or “to drag”. It is the root of English words such as “contract,” “extract,” and “traction”.

und

“Und” comes from the Latin origin word “unda,” which means “wave” in Latin. You can find this root in English words such as “to abound,” “to surround,” and “abundance”.

us

In Latin, “us” comes from the word “usus,” which means “use”. This Latin verb can be found in English words such as “abuse,” “usurpation,” and “to peruse”.

vag

Words such as “extravagant,” “vagabond,” and “vague” all come from the same Latin root – “vag”. This root comes from the verb “vagare,” which means “to wander” or “to rove” in Latin.

val

“Val” is a very common Latin root that appears in many different English words. For example, “ambivalence,” “to validate,” “invalid,” and “value”. “Val” comes from the verb “valere,” which means “to have strength”.

verb

The words “verb” and “verbose” are derived from the Latin root “verb”. The Latin root verb comes from the noun “verbum,” which means “word”.

vers

“Vers” comes from “versus,” which means “turn” in Latin. This root appears in many common English words, such as “adverse,” “conversation,” and “anniversary”.

vid

This common Latin root comes from the verb “videre,” which means “to see”. Some frequently used English language words have been derived from this word. These are, for example, words such as “evidence” and “video”.

vil

In Latin, “vil” comes from the word “vilis,” which means “cheap” or “vile”. There are some English words that are derived from this Latin root, including words such as “to revile” and “to vilify”.

vor

“Vor” comes from the verb “vorare,” which means “to eat” or “to swallow” in Latin. This root can be found in English words such as “herbivore,” “omnivore,” and “to devour”.

vot

In Latin, the root “vot” comes from the verb “vovere,” which means “to promise” or “to vow”. Words such as “devoted,” “vote,” and “votary” have all been derived from this common Latin root.

Conclusion

Many English words come from Latin roots. While some of those roots may be obvious and self-explanatory to an English speaker, some are more difficult to comprehend.

Either way, Latin has undoubtedly had a significant influence on the English language.

To learn more about etymology, check out our guides to Latin prefixes & Latin suffixes.