Glossary of Terms and Terminology Relating to Determining the Meaning of Words by Analyzing Word Parts

  • The root of a word: Also referred to as the base of a word and the stem of a word, is the main part of a word without any syllables before the root of the word, which is a prefix, or after the root of the word, which is a suffix.
  • Prefixes: The part of a word that is connected to and before the stem or root of a word
  • Suffixes: The part of a word that is connected to and after the stem of the word. Some suffixes, like "s", "es", "d" and "ed" which make words plural or of the past tense, are quite simple but others are more complex.

Word Stems

Vocabulary can be acquired and somewhat mastered knowing about the meanings of word stems, word prefixes and word suffixes.

As mentioned previously, the stem of a word, which is also referred to as the base of a word and the root of a word, is the main part of a word without any syllables before the stem of the word, which is a prefix, or after the stem of the word, which is a suffix.

For example, examine the word "reinstatement". The root of the word is "instate"; the prefix for the word reinstatement is "re" and the suffix for the word "reinstatement" is "ment". The meaning of the root of the word is to place or put into a position ; the meaning of the prefix is to redo or do again ; and the meaning of the suffix is the result of some action or occurrence. Based on these definitions, you should now be able to discover and determine the meaning of the word "reinstatement" as the placing something again in a position or place.

As you can see in the word above, word roots or stems are typically entire words. For example, here is a list of word stems or roots with an added prefix and/or suffix:

  • Word stem: Engage

Word stem with a prefix: Reengage

Word stem with a suffix: Engagement

  • Word stem: Tangle

Word stem with a prefix: Entangle:

Word stem with a suffix: Entanglement

  • Word stem: Sweet

Word stem with a prefix: Hypersweet

Word stem with a suffix: Sweetener

Word stem with a suffix: Sweeter

Word stem with a suffix: Sweetest

  • Word stem: Mystery

Word stem with a suffix: Mysterious

  • Word stem: Discover

Word stem with a prefix: Rediscover

Word stem with a suffix: Rediscovery

  • Word stem: Ceremony

Word stem with a suffix: Ceremonial

  • Word stem: Festive

Word stem with a prefix: Unfestive

Word stem with a suffix: Festival

  • Word stem: Section

Word stem with a prefix: Dissection

Word stem with a suffix: Sectional

  • Word stem: Thermal

Word stem with a prefix: Hypothermal

Word stem with a suffix: Hypothermia

  • Word stem: Political

Word stem with a prefix: Apolitical

Word stem with a suffix: Politicism

  • Word stem: Establish

Word stem with a prefix : Disestablish

Word stem with a suffix: Disestablishment

  • Word stem: Call

Word stem with a prefix : Recall

Word stem with a suffix: Caller

  • Word stem: Large

Word stem with a prefix : Enlarge

Word stem with a suffix: Larger

Word stem with a suffix: Largest

  • Word stem: Establish

Word stem with a prefix : Disestablish

Word stem with a prefix : Disestablishment

Word Prefixes

As previously stated, vocabulary can be acquired and somewhat mastered knowing about the meanings of prefixes and suffixes which are attached to the beginning of a word stem and after a word stem, respectively.

Some of the most commonly used prefixes, examples of words with these prefixes and the meaning of these words are listed below.

Mono: One or singular

Example: Monopoly which means under the control and possession of one individual or one group

A and an: Not or without

Example: Apathetic meaning without emotion and anemic meaning without blood or a component of blood

Anti: Against or before

Example: Antiseptic meaning an agent that fights against germs

Auto: Self

Example: Autobiographical meaning a story about self or one self

Co, com and con: With and together

Example: Concurrent meaning together and at the same time, conjoined meaning joined together and communicate meaning to convey a message with others

Uni: One

Example: Unicycle meaning a one wheeled cycle and unicellular meaning one celled

Bi: Two

Example: Bifocals meaning two lenses for eye glasses and bicycle meaning a two wheeled cycle

Tri: Three

Example: Triples meaning three infants born at the same time by the same mother and tricycle meaning a three wheeled cycle

Quad: Four

Example: Quadruplets meaning four infants born at the same time by the same mother and quadrilateral meaning a four sided figure

Circum: Around

Example: Circumcision meaning the surgery that a new born baby boy gets around the tip of the penis and circumference which is the measurement around a circle

Contra: Against

Example: Contraindicated meaning against indications and not appropriate

De: Undo

Example: Decrease meaning to lower and undo

Hyper: More than normal

Example: Hyperglycemia meaning more than normal blood sugar and hyperactive meaning more active than normal

Inter: Between

Example: Intersection meaning the spot between two streets or other things

Inter: Between

Example: Interaction meaning an action, such as a conversation, between two people of things

In: Into and not

Example: Internal meaning inner and inactive meaning not active

Peri: Around

Example: Perimeter meaning the length around a geometric figure like a square, triangle or rectangle and perioral meaning around the mouth

Ex: Out of

Example: External meaning outside and exit meaning a way to leave an area

Homo: The same

Example: Homogeneous meaning a group of people or things that are the same in terms of gender, age, or shape for example

Hetero: Different

Example: Heterogeneous meaning a group of people or things that are different in terms of a characteristic such as gender, age, or shape for example

Micro: Small

Example: Microscopic meaning very small and microscope meaning a scientific instrument that is used to see verify small things

Macro: Large

Example: Macroeconomics meaning the study of economics on a large scale, such as global economics

Pre: Before

Example: Prenuptial meaning before marriage

Sub: Under

Example: Subway meaning a means of transportation that is underground and substandard meaning not up to and less than the standard

Word Suffixes

As stated previously, suffixes are connected to and after the stem of the word. Some suffixes, like "s", "es", "d" and "ed" which make words plural or of the past tense, are quite simple but others are more complex.

Unlike prefixes, many suffixes do not have a specific meaning; instead many suffixes change a part of speech to another part of speech. For example, the suffix "ish" often changes a noun into an adjective and the suffix "ly" often changes an adjective into an adverb. The word child is a noun but when "ish" is added to the end of the word child, it becomes childish which is an adjective that means like a child; and when "ly" is added to the end of an adjective like generous, the word is now an adverb as generously.

Like prefixes and word stems or roots, knowing the meaning of suffixes can improve one's vocabulary acquisition and vocabulary mastery.

Below is a list of suffixes, their meanings and examples of each:

Er: More than

Example: Sweeter meaning more sweet than something else. This suffix is used with comparative adjectives which compare two things.

Est: Most

Example: Sweetest meaning the most sweet of more than two things. This suffix is used with superlative adjectives that compare more than two things.

Ing: Continuing or continuous

Example: Running meaning that the person or thing is continuing to run.

Ish: Like or similar to

Example: Childish meaning like a child and foolish meaning like a fool

Less: Without

Example: Childless meaning without children

Ful: With or full of

Example: Beautiful meaning full of beauty

Ible and Able: Can or able to

Example: Enjoyable meaning that something can be enjoyed. These suffixes often changed a word that is a verb into an adjective.

Ness: With

Example: Kindness meaning with being kin. This suffix usually changes adjectives like kind into a noun like kindness.

Ment: State of

Example: Sentiment meaning in the state of feeling. This suffix typically changes a verb into a noun.

Al: Like

Example: Capable meaning able to do something in the correct manner or with competency

Pulling it All Together to Decipher the Meaning of Difficult Words

In this final section of your English and Language TEAS examination review, we have listed some sentences with difficult vocabulary words. Read each of the sentences and try to determine the meanings of these difficult vocabulary words.

If you have difficulty with these sentences, look the words up in a dictionary. You may also prepare yourself for these types of TEAS examination questions by flipping through a dictionary, looking for difficult words and then trying to determine its meaning while you cover and hide the definition with your finger .

As the detectives investigated the mass murder and arson case, it was determined that one of the chief suspects had an alibi about their whereabouts the night of these crimes that was corroborated by several people and the suspect's time card at his place of employment.

What does the word corroborated mean?

One of the chief witnesses for the suspect's defense told confusing and illogical stories; therefore, the jurors felt that the witness was capricious and not predictable.

What does the word capricious mean?

Nancy, who has known Karen for over 20 years, recently learned that Karen was the antithesis of selflessness which was quite a surprise to Nancy.

What does the word antithesis mean?

An example of synergism is that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

What does the word synergism mean?

Throughout the ages, there have been many people who have been shunned and even persecuted for thinking differently and coming forward with a new paradigm. For example, Pythagoras, a Greek philosopher, was rejected when he said that the earth was round and not flat.

What does the word paradigm mean?

Mary was far less loquacious than her gregarious friends were.

What does the word gregarious mean?

Mary was far less loquacious than her talkative friends were.

What does the word loquacious mean?

Although many people go to college after high school to learn about and major in theoretical subjects that they are not able to apply immediately, there are others that choose to go to a vocational school to learn pragmatic skills that they are able to use immediately in the real world.

What does the word pragmatic mean?

During a conversation with my friend, she stated, "Judy must be very wealthy; she lives in Beverly Hills." I told my friend that that statement was a nonsequitur.

What does the word nonsequitur mean?

One of the primary reasons that authors should know who their target audience of readers will be prior to beginning the piece of writing because a failure to know the target audience and their characteristics may lead to the author's use of esoteric terms and terminology that the readers are not able to understand and comprehend. For example, the words and abbreviations of NPO, a definitive diagnosis and immunoassay are usually incomprehensible to general population.

What does the word esoteric mean?

When Suzie's children wanted a puppy for Christmas, Suzie was ambivalanet about getting one because she thought it would be nice to have the children learn about caring for a pet but she did not want to have to house break and train a puppy at this time.

What does the word ambivalent mean?

Many professional authors experience writer's block which makes them less prolific than they want to be.

What does the word prolific mean?

Angina, a disease of the heart, is characterized with intermittent chest pain.

What does the word intermittent mean?

Despite the fact that the Jones family donated to the new church building fund, their small donation was not nearly as magnanimous as many thought it would be.

What does the word magnanimous mean?

One of the cruelest characteristics of a bully is their belligerence.

What does the word belligerence mean?

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