Root (linguistics)

indivisible part of word that does not have a prefix or a suffix, may have a meaning and be usable alone or not

The root in language is either a base word, or a part of a word to which affixes are added. Or, it is the part left after affixes have been taken away. Technically, it is the smallest unit which carries meaning: it cannot be reduced into smaller units. It is the same as a free-standing morpheme.

If a root is a whole word, then it is called a base word. It is the word which stands at the head of a dictionary definition, is the base of a word family.

Examples: in each case in bold

  • Unhelpfully
  • reaction
  • receive
  • science. This one is interesting because it is so ancient. It is a descendent of the Indo-European root scei, meaning to cut or split. It comes to us via the Latin language.[1]

References change

  1. McArthur, Tom 1992. The Oxford companion to the English language. Oxford Unniversity Press, 876.