Root Word Lists

Words can be puzzling for students as they are often pieced together by many different word parts (morphemes). A single word might contain a prefix, a suffix, root, and a base or root word, each part holding important information. A root word can be defined as a basic standalone word in which affixes can be added to create new words. A root is the basis of a word and it typically does not stand alone. Teaching root words to kids can help increase students’ proficiency at identifying roots and forming complete words.


Root Words Sample List
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It is essential to start teaching root words to kids early so students can develop an understanding of root words, roots, and other morphemes in order to deconstruct words and build word meaning. Our root word spelling lists, used in conjunction with engaging root word games and exercises, are a great way to improve student understanding of how words are formed.

Morphemes, also referred to as word-part clues, are units of language that hold meaning, but cannot be broken down any further into smaller meaningful parts. Two basic types of morphemes exist: bound and free. Bound morphemes cannot stand alone and must be attached to other morphemes to form a word, acting as the building blocks of a word. Affixes (prefixes and suffixes) and Latin and Greek root words are bound morphemes. Free morphemes, on the other hand, can stand alone. Free morphemes include English root words, such as the root word “teach” in “teacher.” Two free morphemes can join to form a compound word, for example “dog” and “house” to form “doghouse.” Morphemes are imperative when teaching root words to kids, and our root words games, exercises, and word lists can help students master the puzzles of word creation.

Prefixes and suffixes can be added to a root word to form many new words and change word meaning. Often the term base word is used interchangeably with root word. When affixes are added to them, they serve as the anchor of the word because they hold the word’s principle meaning.

While there are many conflicting definitions of root words and base words, teachers need to keep in mind the importance of teaching these topics. Knowledge of morphemes, like word roots, helps with reading fluency, vocabulary development, and reading comprehension.

Root Word Games

Root Words Spelling Lists

Root Words with Prefixes

  • disappear
  • reappear
  • disapprove
  • misbehave
  • discomfort
  • redirect
  • unhappy
  • unkind
  • unpack
  • replay

List of Root Words with Affixes

  • dishonesty
  • uncomfortable
  • unkindness
  • unworthy
  • abnormally
  • unhappiness
  • unreasonable
  • unlikely
  • disrespectful
  • unsuccessful

Root Words with Suffixes

  • appearance
  • breaking
  • breakable
  • careful
  • careless
  • hopeful
  • hopeless
  • kindness
  • loveable
  • lovely

Latin & Greek Root Word Lists

Many words in the English language possess a Greek or Latin root. Below is a list of commonly used Greek and Latin roots, their meanings, and words containing them to use when teaching root words to kids.

Greek and Latin Root Words

Root Word Meaning Origin Example
astro star Greek astronaut
aud hear Latin audio
auto self Greek automatic
bene good Latin benevolent
cred believe Latin credible
dict say Latin dictate
meter measure Greek kilometer
micro small Greek microscope
form shape Latin formation
graph write Greek autograph
hydr water Greek dehydrate
liter letter Latin literature
multi many Latin multiple
pend hang Latin appendix
port carry Latin transportation
sect cut apart Greek dissect
struct build Latin construct
tele from afar Greek telephone
therm heat Greek thermometer
vac empty Greek evacuate

English Root Word Lists

Root words are words in their own right, but are also the basis of many other words. Prefixes, suffixes, or both affixes may be added to expand upon a root word. Below are words containing English root words. To make teaching root words to kids easier than ever you can access additional word lists on VocabularySpellingCity and pair with root word games and exercises for engaging practice!

English Root Words

Root Word Examples
appear reappear, appearance, disappear
break breakable, breaking, unbreakable
build rebuild, builder, unbuild
care caring, careful, careless
comfort discomfort, comfortable, uncomfortable
count counting, counter, countless
employ unemploy, employment, unemployment
faith faithful, faithfully, unfaithful
fear fearless, fearful, fearing
friend friendly, friendship, unfriendly
happy happiness, unhappy, unhappiness
hope hopeful, hopeless, hoped
joy joyful, enjoyment, overjoyed
kind unkind, kindness, unkindness
love loveable, lovely, loved
pack unpack, packed, packing
play replay, playful, played
read readable, reading, reader
use misuse, useful, used
worth worthy, unworthy, worthless

Use Our Root Word Lists to Create Engaging Root Word Games and Activities for Students of All Ages!