This is the lesson attached to the English learning game Apiculturist's Laboratory. This is a quiz game to identify words based on their origins. English uses different levels of language, word origins help select the appropriate level of language to adapt to your audience! Play the FREE version of the game or join us and get the full version!
Latin and Greek prefixes and suffixes are not only common in English, but also useful in determining the meaning of words we could be not familiar with.
Prefixes are a small group of letters positioned before the core of a word. Suffixes are a small group of letters positioned after the core of a word. They are added to this core to form another word.
Those groups of letters used to be words of their own right in Latin or Greek. The meaning they carried then remains the same in English today.
prefix core suffix
Example Carnivorous: CARNI- = flesh, -VOROUS = feed on
The Greek influence on English is less noticeable than the Latin influence because the former only concerns certain specific areas: Greek suffixes are usually used in medical or scientific contexts, while Greek prefixes usually appear in academic works.
Example Meteorology: METEORO- = atmosphere, -LOGY = studies
Greek suffixes are more common, especially the ones below:
But what is really worth memorizing are those Greek words considered as prefixes:
There are many other Greek roots such as tauto- (same) or idio- (one’s own).
Although Latin and Greek play an important role in English, most words used in everyday life comes from Germanic origins. Many words have both forms (Latin or Greek, and Germanic) to express the same meaning.
Example LODGING (Germanic) and ACCOMMODATION (Latin) are synonymous but ACCOMMODATION is more formal than LODGING.
Therefore, you should always favor Germanic-based words over Latin-based or Greek-based words when talking to people in a general context.
Latin, Greek, and Germanic have identifiable linguistic fingerprints, a set of particular sequences of letters.
In addition to the prefixes and suffixes above, here are some of those fingerprints:
Example PSYCHOLOGICAL, PTERODACTYL Greek origin because of PS and PT.