Understanding Scientific Terms/Roots-Prefixes-Suffixes

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Greek vase Dionysos attica 520 bC.jpg Understanding Scientific Terminology
Greek and Latin Roots of Scientific Terms.
Lessons: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Lesson 1 - Roots, prefixes, and suffixes[edit | edit source]

How technical words are made[edit | edit source]

The main part of a word is the word root. This may be a Greek or Latin word or combining form that has a meaning.

Roots can be combined with other roots to make more complex words such as the word electrocardiogram. Many word roots actually begin and/or end with consonants. In order to make the word sound better a vowel is placed between the two words to make them easier to say.

Tel  : Is a word root that means far.
gram : Is something that is written. A letter. A recording.

putting them together makes


but we add a vowel between the two ( In this case the letter e) to make the word telegram.

tel/e/gram - A written record sent from afar.

In fact many words have a preferred letter that is used as a combining form.

When this is so, the letter is placed beside the root after a slash (/) to tell you how to combine it.

Try the following exercise:


tel/e : Greek, meaning far or far off.
-phone : Greek, meaning sound or voice. ( also phon/o)

EXERCISE • Roots-Prefixes-Suffixes • Write the word
  1. What is the correct way to write the word meaning a sound heard from far off?
  2. What means a record of a sound?
SOLUTION • Understanding Scientific Terms/Roots-Prefixes-Suffixes • Write the word
  1. telephone
  2. phonogram

prefixes and suffixes[edit | edit source]

Prefixes and suffixes may also be added to a words to modify its meaning. In fact the term prefix is made this way.

fix : Is a word root from Latin fixus which means to fasten.
pre : Is a prefix from the Latin Prae before or front.

Therefore prefix means to fasten to the front of a word.

Suffixes follow a word.

o/logy is a suffix that means The study of.
Bio is a word root that means Life.
EXERCISE • Roots-Prefixes-Suffixes • Define the word
  1. What does Biology mean?
  2. What is Phonology?
SOLUTION • Understanding Scientific Terms/Roots-Prefixes-Suffixes • Define the word
  1. The study of Life.
  2. The study of Sound( or Speech ).