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!

Apiculturist's Laboratory | English Lesson
English Word Origins

Vocabulary Etymology Keep in Mind

Vocabulary: Synonyms

meteorology weather forecast
science knowledge
happening phenomenon
equipment gear
routine behavior
apparently seemingly
consortium fellowship
resentment anger
provoke bring about
cut away diminish
finger-wagging admonition
firth estuary
port harbor
entrepot depot
given up abandoned
deduct take off
dearth shortage
galling vexing
pink-slipped dismissed
fib prevarication
ruckus din
shell out hand over
fortify strengthen
stew boil
ophthalmologist eye doctor
carnivorous flesh-eating
revelry fair
pungent sharp
feeble weak
rut depression
heat temperature
overture opening
candid straightforward
clever intelligent
amusing funny
stupid silly
elicit bring out
psyche soul
oneirism daydreaming
travel trip
aged old
absent-minded forgetful
omission oversight
fracture break
similar alike
carry bear
frugal thrifty
sweet kind
amity friendship
hardy sturdy
hindrance clog
spunky vivacious
abate lessen
aggregate gather
oscillate shake

English Word Origins

Prefixes & Suffixes

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

Most common Latin prefixes

There are many other Latin prefixes such as semi- (half), contra- (against) or ambi- (both). You will gradually recognize them as you learn more and more vocabulary words.


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).

Keep in Mind

Germanic Roots

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.

Linguistic Fingerprints

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.

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