How words are created

How words are created

1. By imitation of sounds (onomatopoeia): meow, bang, crackle, zip, ring;
2. Through extended meanings… The verb fly becomes: the name of an insect, a baseball that is hit high, the space over a theater stage;
3. As derivations: from study comes student, from moon comes month;
4. Through compound words: notebook, bedroom and mailbox are some obvious examples but also note elbow (ell + bow) and lackadaisical (from the expression ‘lackaday’ which itself derives from ‘alack the day’).
5. From root + affix
Prefix + root
Pro – (forward or forth) + duce (lead) = produce (“bring forth”)
Root + suffix
Wonder + – full = wonderful
6. Through changing pronunciation: breakfast, cupboard, extraordinary;
7. Through changing spelling… Alone is from ‘all one’. Felt was once used to strain liquid, so the piece of felt used as the strainer became known as a felter, which later changed to filter. “God be with you” was once a valediction which, over the centuries, came to be pronounced and spelled as good-bye.
8. From names (eponyms)… People’s names: the Teddy Bear is named after Teddy Roosevelt and the electrical volt after Alessandro Volta. Place names: Frankfurters after named after Frankfurt, Germany, and jeans after Genoa, Italy. Trade names: Kleenex, Band-aid, Jello, Xerox, Hoover.
9. From the shortening or truncating of words: telephone becomes phone, photograph becomes photo, megabyte becomes meg;
10. From acronyms: sonar = SOund NAvigation Ranging, laser = Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation;
11. Portmanteau words: motor + hotel = motel;
12. From foreign words:iInfluenza (Italian), rendezvous (French), chow (Chinese), opal (Sanskrit)
13. Invented words: quiz, quark.

Latin Roots

Latin Root

English | Meaning | English Example


Act act, do actual
Ami like, love amiable
Cad fall cadence
Ced go intercede
Cept take, hold intercept
Cid kill, cut genocide
Clud shut, close occlude
Cred believe incredulous
Cur run incur
Dict tell edict
Duct lead induct
Fact make, do benefactor
Fer bear, carry confer
Flect flex, bend genuflect
Gress step, go forward egress
Here stick, adhere inherent
Ject throw eject
Junct join conjunction
Leg read, choose illegible
Loqu talk, speak loquacity
Mit send transmit
Mov move immovable
Ped foot centipede
Pel drive impel
Pend hang pendulum
Pon put respond
Port carry transport
Press press, hold impress
Rupt break disrupt
Scrib write describe
Sect cut intersect
Sent feel sentient
Sequ follow sequence
Spect look introspection
Sta stand station
Tact touch tactile
Termin end determine
Tract draw, pull tractor
Vent come invent
Vert turn convert
Vict conquer evict
Vid see video
Voc call vocalize
Volv roll, turn evolve

Latin Prefixes

Latin Prefix

English | Meaning | English Example Word

Ab away abduct
Ad to, toward admit
Ante before, in front of antecedent
Bene well, good benediction
Bi two bifocal
Circum around circumvent
Co together cooperate
Contra against, opposite contrary
De from, down deprecate
Dis apart, differently disgrace
E out elect
Extgra outside extraordinary
In in inject
In not involuntary
Inter between intercept
Intra within, in intraocular
Mal badly, evil maltreat
Ob in the way obstruct
Per through percolate
Post after postmortem
Pre before preside
Pro forward, forth promote
Re again, back relent
Retro backward retroactive
Se apart secret
Semi half semi-circle
Sub under submarine
Super above supernatural

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How words are created