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Etymology

Most vocabulary words are derived from Latin or Greek etymologies. Here you will find access to phobias (fears, terrors, dreads), manias, and many other words listed in thematic units of English vocabulary words.

Why learn about word origins or etymologies?

The etymology of a word traces its existence and development throughout history and usually through multiple languages. Simply put, etymology can be seen as the study of word origins. You can study word origins to gain a better understanding of language in general. When you know the meaning of a Latin or Greek root, prefix, or suffix, you can better understand, and more easily remember, all of the vocabulary words built on this Latin or Greek element that exist in English words. Knowing etymologies will also help you decipher the meanings of newly encountered words.

Learn one root and you have the key that will unlock the meanings of up to ten, twenty, or even hundreds of English words in which that Latin and/or Greek element (prefix, root, and suffix) appears; for example, learn ego (from Latin, meaning I) and you will immediately have a grasp of the meanings of egocentric, egomaniac, egoist, egotist, and alter ego, all of which will expand your vocabulary.

Again, learn anthropos (from Greek, meaning mankind) and you will quickly understand anthropology, misanthropy, anthropoid, anthropocentric, anthropomorphic, anthropophobia, and philanthropy. Meet any word with -anthropo- in it and you will have at least some idea of its meaning when presented in a vocabulary list.

    In the etymological approach to building vocabulary words:

  • You will learn about Latin and Greek prefixes, roots, and suffixes.
  • You will be able to figure out unfamiliar English words by recognizing their etymological structure, the building blocks from which they are constructed.
  • You will be able to construct many English words correctly by learning to put these building blocks together in the proper way.
  • You will develop a keen interest in English words.
  • You will obtain a greater insight to language as you explore Latin and Greek words and appreciate and experience the wonder of these words.
  • You will acquire many new words and remember them much longer than you can by just learning unrelated word lists.
  • If you are preparing for an examination in which questions about English vocabulary words are a significant part of your score, you will find that learning the etymologies of words is a much better way to learn most of the English words you will encounter.
Learn how to deal with etymologies of English words and you will feel comfortable with such words—you will use new words with self-assurance, you will be able to figure out the meanings of the English vocabulary words you hear or read, even if you have never heard or seen these words before.

That is why the best approach to learning new vocabulary words is through their etymologies. You can discover this for yourself, as soon as you start to work with the lists of Latin and Greek Cross References available for your use on this website.

Etymology Index

If you really want to have a better understanding of some well-known words that you think you know and some important, but not so commonly known words, take the time to read and experience the wonder of each of the words shown in the lists below. We live in an age of constant oral and written expressions. In a time when our knowledge is increasing with breathless speed, particularly in specialized areas, it is important that we understand each other by having a better comprehension of some “old” words, “new” words, most of which are “borrowed,” but always with every possible effort to present the “true” origins and current usages of those words. This is what Words for Our Modern Age is all about.


English-Latin-Greek
Cross References
Completed lists of word units.
Achilles Heel Greek hero who was invincible--except for part of his heel.
Anesthesia Induced loss of sensation or feeling.
Arena Entertainment structure.
Auspicious Favorable, unfavorable.
Bankrupt Unable to pay what one owes.
Bariatrics Medical field dealing with control of obesity.
Berserk Suddenly violently wild or crazy.
Biometrics Use of one's anatomy for identification purposes.
Blog A sort of online journal.
Calendar Record of days, months, and years.
Capnomania The urge to smoke.
Capnophobia The fear of smoking.
Dictionaries A reference book containing definitions of words.
Dinosaur Prehistoric lizards.
Dismal Bleak or gloomy.
Epitaph Brief writing or poem about the dead.
Filibuster A hindrance, especially in politics.
Jet Thrust and propulsion.
Kleptomania Uncontrollable urge to steal.
Malapropism Ridiculous misuse of words.
Mnemonics Memorizing techniques that work.
Mosquitoes Pesky blood-consuming bug.
Narcolepsy Uncontrollable sleep anytime, anywhere.
Obesity Condition of being overweight.
Phobia Fear of rain, railroads, and more!
Planets Venus, Earth, Mars, and more!
Polygamy Being married to more than one person at a time.
Portmanteau A blend of several things.
Robot A machine programmed to do tasks when commanded.
Sandwich Putting meat, cheese, and/or vegetables between two pieces of bread.
Sesquipedalian A long word for "long."
Stalactite Deposits of calcium carbonate.
Steganography Hiding a secret message in a larger message.
Symbiosis Beneficial interdependency.
Tribology Study of the effects of friction on moving objects.

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