Posted in: languages, Schools, Uncategorized

Word Roots: S

SIGMA, tooth 

Sun, sing, see, star, sister, sit, stupid, sign, sum, solve

sigma = sum sign

sunna – sun

SOL: 太阳,唯一, 庄严

Helios – HE (helium)


  • solarize, solarization, solarium, insolation, 
  • circumsolar, extrasolar, parasol, turnsole (sunflower)
  • solstice = sol + stic + e = sun + stop = the time or date (twice each year) at which the sun reaches its maximum or minimum declination, marked by the longest and shortest days (about June 21 and December 22).
    • the amount of solar radiation reaching a given area.

      insolation = in + sol+ation: exposure to the sun’s rays.

==== solo ===

  • solo, soloist, sole, solely, solitary, solitude, soliloquy, desolate, 
  • console, consolation, consolatory, disconsolate, solace, 
  • solipsism: self-centered worldview
  • solitary: Tigers are essentially solitary. 
  • soliloquize
  • solitaire: a gem in a setting by itself
  • sullen: (the sun has fallen) a sullen sunless sky

sol (comfort)

  • disconsolate

    If you are disconsolate, you are very unhappy or so sad that nothing will make you feel better.

==== firm, solemn, whole ====

  • solder
  • solid , solidify, solidification
  • solidity: the consistency of a solid
  • solidarity: a union of interests or purposes or sympathies among members of a group
  • Factory workers voiced solidarity with the striking students. 
  • solemnity
  • solicit, solicitation, solicitor, solicitude
  • I was touched by his solicitude. 
  • consolidate: to make something stronger by combining two. 
  • console (n.): a small table fixed to a wall or designed to stand against a wall
  • consolidation

    === in the habit of ===

  • obsolete: obsolescent, obsolescence
  • insolent: rude, disrespectful, offensive
  • She hated the insolent tone in his voice. 
  • insolence
  • exult: extremely happy
  • desultory (solomen), insular (sole, peninsular) 

star = stell, aster, astro

  • stellar, stellar, stellate, constellate, constellation, constellatory, interstellar,
  • astrology, astronomy, astronomer,  astrophysics, asteroid, 
  • disaster, disastrous, 
  • poetaster 


solve / solute = loosen, loosened

  • absolve (spare, exculpate, exonerate); dissolve, insolvent
  • dissolute

    unrestrained by convention or morality

  • dissolution

    Dissolution is the breaking up or official end of a group, such as a couple or institution; it can also be the act of separating something into smaller components.

Solved by A Root Solution

The Latin roots solv and its variant solut both mean “loosen.” Let’s absolutely resolve these roots right now in a resolute fashion!

Let’s begin with the root solv, which means “loosen.” A problem or puzzle can be thought of as a knot. When you solve a problem, you “loosen” or untie that knot. When you show resolve in doing so, you are determined to “loosen” that knot no matter what. Once you resolve or set the task to “loosen” the puzzle, you can absolve or “loosen” yourself from this responsibility by using willpower to complete it.

Chemistry labs often consist of dissolving different molecules. For instance, when you put sugar or salt into water, the molecules of these substances are said to dissolve, the bonds between their atoms becoming “loosened” or destroyed, causing them to disappear. A solvent, such as water, is that medium which “loosens” or unties those molecular bonds, hence bringing about the process of dissolving. A universal solvent is said to be something which can dissolve anything at all, but that of course is silly because then it would dissolve itself!

Having solved solv, let’s move on to its variant solut, which also means “loosen.” Sticking for a moment more with chemistry, when you find a solution to a chemistry problem, you have “loosened” or untied it. If you have solved the problem absolutely, then you have been “loosened” from all error, and thus were completely correct!

Many of us make New Year’s resolutions, or those promises which we are determined to keep, thereby having “loosened” ourselves from anything which might keep us from accomplishing them. For instance, you might make a resolution not to eat sugar. You would have to be entirely resolute to do that, having been “loosened” from anything that might get in your way of not doing so. Most of us, over time, become irresolute, no longer being “loosened” from all things that keep us from what we said we were going to do, and thus become tied to eating sugar once more.

I hope that we have now solved any major dilemmas with this verbal solution to learning that the roots solv and solut mean “loosen.” An untied knot can be a great thing!

“Stat” Stands at the Ready!

The Latin root stat and variant stit mean “stand.” Today we will put you in a state of readiness, enabling you to “stand” prepared when the roots stat and stit make an appearance!

What is your station in life, that is, where do you “stand?” Is your status or “standing” in society high, low, or in the middle? Is your physical stature such that you “stand” tall above others? Is your societal “standing” so high that one day a statue, or image that “stands” erect, will be made so that others can remember that you once “stood” so tall? Imagine such a permanent statement of how things “stand” for you!

What is your current state of health, that is, where does it “stand?” Are you so healthy that you are ecstatic, “standing” outside of normal feelings so as to be very happy? Or are you forced to remain stationary, unable to move but only “stand” still? If your health is not so good, hopefully a doctor is not too distant or “standing” far away to take care of you!

A variant of the root stat is stit, formed so because a word with stit is sometimes easier to say than a word with stat. For instance, it is much easier to say “constitution” than “constatution,” and better to say “superstition” than “superstation”! Speaking of the former, a person’s constitution is how the well-being of her body “stands,” that is, how well her immune system keeps her healthy. A nation’s constitution, such as the US Constitution, is the setting forth of how a nation will “stand” as to its laws and structure of its government. A nation’s constitution helps to keep the nation and its people from becoming destitute, or “standing” from being in good shape, including financially. And if indeed something bad does happen, the written constitution hopefully provides restitution so that the nation or individual can “stand” strong again. Superstition is a “standing” above the belief in normal, everyday, tangible things, and instead having a belief in the reality of supernatural powers, not the basis of a good government.

Now that we have instituted the roots stat and stit as part of your roots knowledge, you will no longer misstate the meanings of words with those roots in them!

st (stand) – sist, sta, stan, stin, stab, stor, stat, stit, stitut, 


sist = 互相帮助,坚持到底

  • insist, persist, subsist, desist (cease, abstain), assist, assistant, assistantship, assistance, 
  • consist, consistent, consistence, inconsistent, consistency,
  • resist, resister, resistible, irresistible, 
  • exist, existing, existent, existence, existential, existentialism, 

stas (standing): stasis, static, ecstasy, apostasy, homeostasis

stand: constant, distant, instant, extant, substantial, substantiate, circumstantial, equidistant

stat: state, statement, instate, estate, obstacle, stature, statutory, staid (sedate, unadventurous, respectable), ecstatic, stationary, apostate, reinstate, 

sti: stitut (set up, decided) 立足

substitute, interstices, interstitial, constitution, constituent, destitute, restitution

stor (renew): restore, 

strength: strong, strenuous (vigorous) exercise, 

still (drop)

  • distillate

    a purified liquid produced by condensation from a vapor during distilling

  • distillation

    the process of purifying a liquid by boiling it and condensing its vapors

  • distillery

    a plant and works where alcoholic drinks are made by distillation

  • instill

    impart gradually

  • instillation

    the introduction of a liquid (by pouring or injection) drop by drop

Sid Sits with Sed

The Latin root word sid and its variant sed both mean “sit.”

Let’s first take a look at the root sid. Consider Sydney, a resident of a city, or that place where she “sits” back for a long time. She can “sit” in comfort at her residence, or that home where she is able to “sit” at leisure. Imagine that Sydney is president of a profitable company; as president, she “sits” in charge of her employees. In such a role she presides, or “sits” before everyone else as top dog.

Consider Sydney’s dismay when she finds out that there is a dissident in her company, or one who “sits” apart from those around him because he holds different opinions. Sydney considers rebels like that insidious, or “sitting” in secret ambush to upend her. Sydney ensures that his dissension will soon subside, or “sit” or settle down, and eventually go away, by offering him more money.

A variant of the root sid is sed, which also means “sit.” Do you know anyone who is a serious couch potato? He would be a good example of a sedentary person, or one who likes to “sit” around a lot. Has a doctor ever had to sedate you because you were too active? That sedative she gave you would cause you to settle or to “sit” down, forcing you to be inactive.

You may have learned in geology that sediment is that particulate matter that eventually “sits” upon or settles to the bottom of a body of water. Sedimentary rock is formed from that settled dirt and debris that has “sat” there and eventually compacted after a long time.

No longer will you have to “sit” down at a dictionary, thumbing through it to discover that sid and sed are both linguistically settled as “sit!”

sed (sit, settle, rest) 

  1. when things to sit: [sediment, sedimentary]
  2. you are something or you can do something when you sit. [sedentary, sedulous, assiduous, insidious, preside, ]
  3. When you sit, you rest, settle and you don’t move, don’t hurry. [sedate, sedative, sedation]
  • sedate (adj. v.): calm, unhurried, and unlikely to be disturbed by anything
  • 1. In the old days, business was carried at a rather more sedate pace.
  • 2. She was heavily sedated.
  • sedative -> sedation
  • sediment, sedimentary
  • sedentary: someone who sits a lot
  • We all walk a certain amount every day even if we are sedentary. 
  • sedulous: someone who works hard and carefully and thoroughly. 
  • He watched himself with the most sedulous care. 
  • sedan: a car
  • supersede: to take place or succeed
  • sedition= se (away, out) + dit (do) + ion】: conduct or speech that incites people to rebel against the authority of a state or monarch; incitement, insurrection, 

sid (sit): reside, preside, president, dissidence, resident, subsidiary, subside, residual, insidious, assiduous, residue

sid (star): desiderate, sidereal

preside: sit in the front, sit before other people to do the following  -> to chair a meeting, to run/lead an action or an organization, to guide / moderate 

preside over: be in charge of, be responsible for, be accountable for, be at the head/helm of, be head of, be in the driving/driver’s seat, be in the saddle, pull the string, call the shots/tune

preside at: play an instrument at a public gathering

sess: assess, obsess, session, 

situ (positioned)

  • sitcom

    a humorous drama based on situations that might arise in day-to-day life

Spectacles Make the World Conspicuous!

The Latin root word spect and its variant spic both mean “see.” Today you will “see” just how conspicuous these two roots are in the English language, especially when you use your spectacles to do so!

Let’s begin with the root spect, which means “see.” Spectators, or those who “see” something, such as a sporting event, often expect or wait to “see” something spectacular, or worthy of being “seen.” As these spectators watch a sporting spectacle, they are often aided by spectacles, or glasses which allow them to “see.” What a spectacle it would be to catch “sight” of a specter, or a ghost which appears or is “seen!”

Imagine a crime scene in which something very puzzling happened. A police inspector might be sent to inspect or try to “see” what happened. The inspector might come up with a suspect, or someone she “sees” or “views” with mistrust. If the detective’s perspective, or the way she “sees” things is close to the truth, she will likely solve the crime.

If you really respect someone you “see” her or him in a positive light. When Aretha Franklin asked for respect in her hit song, she was asking to be looked upon more favorably.

Not only does the root spect mean “see,” but its variant spic does as well. Imagine someone in a large crowd is wearing stilts and a three-foot tall yellow hat—now that would be conspicuous, or easy to “see.” A despicable person, or one who does things that shouldn’t be “seen,” might shoot an arrow through that hat. If the archer was not seen in the act of shooting, people nevertheless might be suspicious if he were seen carrying around a bow, “seeing” it with mistrust. Someone who “sees” very clearly, or in a perspicacious way, might think to link the arrow which pierced the hat with the archer’s quiver full of arrows, thereby matching the archer to the crime!

You have certainly “seen” enough about spect and have been offered some of the verbal span of spic. You can now spectate away with more comfort in the wild word wood of English instead of merely speculating upon meanings of words you “see” each and every day!

  1. specter: a ghost or phantom which appears to someone, allowing itself to be “seen”
  2. perspicacious: of very clearly “seeing”

scop: horoscope, gyroscope, episcopal, periscope, colonoscopy, arthroscopic, kaleidoscope, stethoscope, spectroscope

spec: specious

spec (kind, form): specific

spect: inspect, retrospect, introspect, circumspect, spectrum, respect, aspect, conspectus, irrespective, prospect, perspective, spectacle. 

spic: despicable, auspices, conspicuous, perspicuous, perspicacity, suspicious

soph (clever, wise)

  • sophistry

    Sophistry is the clever use of arguments that seem correct but are in fact unsound and misleading, used with the intent to deceive people.

  • sophist

    sophist uses clever reasoning techniques to make their arguments seem plausible; nevertheless, their verbiage is used first and foremost to trick others into thinking their arguments are sound or reasonable.

  • sophism

    a deliberately invalid argument displaying ingenuity in reasoning in the hope of deceiving someone


Scribes Write Scripts

The Latin root word scrib and its variant script both mean “write.” Today we have “written” a unique podcast script to permanently “write” these roots into your memory!

Let’s begin with the root scrib, which means “write.” A scribe used to be the primary “writer” of copies before the printing press was invented. A scribe would often transcribe documents, or make “written” copies of them. A bored scribe might scribble or carelessly “write” meaningless marks on what he is “writing.” Imagine if a scribe were given a task which was indescribable, or could not be “written” about at all! Now imagine once more if a scribe were asked to inscribe, or “write” letters on stone with only his usual pen! Perhaps a doctor would have to prescribe pain killers, or “write” a note beforehand, to ease his aching fingers—it’s rough “writing” on stone!

Now let’s move on to the variant root script, which also means “write.” For instance, a script is simply a “written” text. Scribes often copied manuscripts, or documents once “written” by hand. These manuscripts “written” by scribes were often scriptures, or holy “writings.”

Do you have a subscription to a magazine? If so, you have “underwritten” it to provide money for its production. If you need some medicine that is available by prescription only, you must receive a “written” document beforehand from a physician to get it. Have you ever needed a transcript from your school, or document “written” across to another to make a copy, to prove that you’ve taken a certain course?

And just what does the abbreviation “PS” mean after a signature on a letter? It stands for the Latin post scriptum, or “postscript,” a further message which is “written” after the main body of the letter.

I have now “written” more than enough about both scrib and script. Enough describing and description for today!

scribble, transcribe 

scend (climb)

condescend (deign), descend, descent, transcend, 

sci (know): science, conscience

  • plebiscite

    A plebiscite is a direct vote by an electorate of a state or entire nation to determine whether to accept or refuse a proposed measure or important public question.

scop (see): arthroscopic, gyroscope, horoscope, kaleidoscope, periscope, stethoscope, spectroscope

scrut (probe, examine): scrutinize 

skept (examine, consider): skeptical

scour [‘skaʊə(r)]
v. 彻底搜索
search (a place) for …
The detective is searching for clues.
The small ship, Elkor, which had been searching the Barents Sea for weeks, was on its way home.

Look into my eyes, you will know… Search your heart, search your soul 

hunt for …
I’m hunting for a job now.
The hunt for the puma began in a small village where a woman picking blackberries saw ‘a large cat’ only five yards away from her.
fumble for …
She fumbled for her keys in her purse.
If you are lucky enough to get a sleeper, you spend half the night staring at the small blue light in

the ceiling, or fumbling to find your ticket for inspection.

scour a place for …
The sea bed was scoured with powerful nets …
comb a place for …

The police are combing the woods for the fugitive.

frisk sb. 

sch: split, division

  • schism

    schism causes a group or organization to divide into two groups as a result of differences in their aims and beliefs.

sev (seven, 分开,断开)7 – 圆满结束

  • sever, several, severalty, severance, dissever, severable,
  • [severe = se + ver (fear, truth) + e], 

sect: secant, cosecant, dissect, dissection, vivisection (autopsy, biopsy), sectarian,

cu/qu (que):

  • prosecute (take to court), persecute, consecutive, executive,  
  • sequence, inconsequential, segue, obsequious (sycophantish), sequel, sequential, prequel, consequent, obsequy
  • [sequester = se + quester; sequestrate, question, equestrian, request] seclude
  • sequester

    If you sequester someone, you keep them separate from other people.


sort (lot): 

  • assort

    keep company with

  • consort

    keep company with

  • presorted

    relating to being sorted or put in order ahead of time

  • resort

    have recourse to

  • sorcerer

    one who practices magic or sorcery




sembl, simil, simul (seem, appearance, same):

  • resemble, resemblance, semblance, dissemble
  • assimilate, dissimilate, facsimile (fac + simile), similitude, verisimilitude
  • simulate, dissimulate (disemble)

semin (seed): semen, seminal, disseminate, seminar, 

sen (old man): senescent, senile, senior, 

sens, sent (feel, sense): dissension, assent, consent, resent, dissent, present, insentient,  sentience, sententious

  • sensual

    marked by the appetites and passions of the body

  • sensuous

    taking delight in beauty

[sentry, sentinel,]

sim (once)

? sin (curve, fold, hollow): insinuate, sine, cosine, sinus, sinuosity

sent (be): present, 

sent (perceive, feel, sense)

Sensational ‘Sens’ & ‘Sent’

The Latin root sent and its variant form sens mean to “feel.”

When something makes sense to you, you can easily get a ‘feeling’ for it. When something is nonsensical, on the other hand, you can’t get a ‘feeling’ for it at all! When you do something sensible, it’s what is ‘felt’ to be the right thing to do.

Humans ‘feel’ what is around them through their sensory apparatus, that is, their five senses, or ‘feelers.’ This faculty of sensation allows us all to ‘feel’ the world around us. Imagine if you were insensate, or had no ‘feeling’ whatsoever! People who are sensitive might prefer that, for they tend to ‘feel’ too much and so are susceptible to getting their ‘feelings’ hurt.

Having sensed that you are now ‘feeling’ pretty good about the root word sens, let’s move on to its variant sent, which also means to ‘feel.’ If you are a highly sentimental person, for instance, your ‘feelings’ rule your reaction to the world at large.

Our interactions with one another cause ‘feelings’ to waver. Let’s say that you are having a conversation with your best friend, and she asks you for your opinion. You can assent or agree to it by sending your ‘feelings’ towards her way of thinking. In the same fashion you could also consent to her wishes, or ‘feel’ similarly to her way of thinking. You could also show dissent by moving your ‘feelings’ away from what she is proposing. You might also resent what she has said by flinging your angry ‘feelings’ back at her!

Ever wonder why a sentry is called a sentry? Or a sentinel a sentinel? It is because both a sentry and a sentinel are able to keenly ‘feel’ or perceive who or what is around them, hence are able to do their guard duties effectively.

I’m ‘feeling’ that this would be a sensible time to stop, to which I’m sure you will assent. Glad to have had you on our short journey of ‘feeling’ out sens and sent!

sert (join): sermon

serv (keep, guard, save)

serv (wait on, serve)

sever (strict, grave)

su (follow) pursue, ensue, 

sult: leap, spring forward, jump

  • insult, assault, result, resultant
  • exult: extremely happy
  • desultory (perfunctory, solomen), insular (provincial) (sole, peninsular) 

sum (take up, put on)

  • assume, resume, subsume, consume, presume, 
  • unassuming, presumable, 
  • assumptive, presumptuous, sumptuous (lavish), resumption, presumptive, 
  • summary, consummate, summit

surg, surrect (rise)

surge, resurgent, insurrection (insurgent, sedition), resurrect, 

suav (sweet)

  • suave

    If you are suave, you are charming and very polite; you are also agreeable, perhaps not always sincerely, to all you meet.

  • assuage

    When you assuage an unpleasant feeling, you make it less painful or severe, thereby calming it.

sublim (uplifted)

  • sublime

    Something that is sublime is so strikingly beautiful that it seems not of this world; therefore, it affects the emotions deeply.

  • sublimate

    direct energy or urges into useful activities

  • sublimation

    (chemistry) a change directly from the solid to the gaseous state without becoming liquid

  • sublimity

    nobility in thought or feeling or style

Breathe Easy with “Spir”

The Latin root word spir means “breathe.” This podcast will give you the inspiration you need to “breathe” knowledge into the reading of words with the root spir in them!

Did you know that the blowhole of a whale is called its spiracle, the aperture through which the whale “breathes?” The spiracle aids in the respiration of the whale, that is, its “breathing” in and out and back again. Of course, when a whale expires, hopefully due to a ripe old age, it has “breathed” out its last “breath.”

When you have an inspiration, an idea is “breathed” into your mind. Say that the idea may make you rich; it will nevertheless more than likely require a great deal of perspiration on your part, or that sweat “breathing” through the pores of your skin, to bring about that vast wealth. If you work hard enough, the idea may become reality or transpire, that is, “breathe” across from not being done to occurring for real.

Your inspiration may require a conspiracy to bring it about, or a “breathing” together of a group of people while hatching a plot of some sort. Your group might indeed need to conspire or “breathe” together if your aspiration, or “breathing” towards a goal of some kind, was to have every Twinkie in the world for yourselves! If you work hard as you aspire to or “breathe” towards that goal, you might very well reach it.

I hope that this podcast has spearheaded the way towards a knowledge of spir, having provided you with the inspiration to meet words with spir in them head on!

  1. spiracle: blowhole through which a whale “breathes”
  2. perspiration: the act of sweat “breathing” through the skin’s pores
  • despondent = de + spond + ent = extremely disappointed
  • She grew more and more despondent.
  • despondency
  • sponsor
  • spontaneous
  • respond
  • respondent: replying
  • response
  • responsive
  • responsible
  • responsibility
  • irresponsible
  • correspond
  • correspondence
  • riposte: a quick and clever reply that is often made in answer to criticism of some kind.

spat (distance, area)

  • expatiate

  • To expatiate upon a subject is to speak or write in detail and at length about it.

spers (scatter, besprinkle)

  • aspersion

    An aspersion is an unkind remark or unfair judgment attacking someone’s character or reputation.

  • dispersal

    A dispersal of something is its scattering or distribution over a wide area.

  • intersperse

    When you intersperse things, you distribute or scatter them among other things, sometimes at different intervals.

  • asparagus

    plant whose succulent young shoots are cooked and eaten as a vegetable

  • disperse

    distribute loosely

  • dispersion

    spreading widely or driving off

  • interspersion

    the act of combining one thing at intervals among other things

  • sparse

    not dense

sper (hope)

  1. desperado: a bold outlaw (especially on the American frontier)

  • diaspora

    A diaspora is a voluntary or forced movement of an ethnic people who permanently relocate in areas remote from their homeland.

  • sporadic

    Sporadic occurrences happen from time to time but not at constant or regular intervals.

  • spore

    a small usually single-celled asexual reproductive body produced by many nonflowering plants and fungi and some bacteria and protozoans and that are capable of developing into a new individual without sexual fusion


  • respite

    A respite is a short period of rest from work or something troubling.

  • despite

    lack of respect accompanied by a feeling of intense dislike

  • spite

    hurt the feelings of

  • spiteful

    showing malicious ill will and a desire to hurt

  • resplendent

    People or things that are resplendent are beautiful, bright, and impressive in appearance.

  • stupid
  • stupidity
  • stupendous
    extremely impressive.
    “a stupendous display of technique”
  • stupor
  • stupefy = stup + e + fy (make)
    make (someone) unable to think or feel properly.
    “the offense of administering drugs to a woman with intent to stupefy her”
  • stupefaction

stig (mark, brand, tatoo-mark) 

  • stigma
  • instigate
  • They instigated a reign of terror. 
  • instigating legal proceedings.
  • astigmatism
  • tigress, tiger
  • stigmatized

sign: assign, design, significant, resign, consign, insignia, signal. signet, signatory

sem (sign): semantic, semantics, semiotics, semaphore, polysemous

sugar, saccharine, sucrose

sacr, secr, sanct (holy): sacred,  sacrosanct, sacrificial, consecrate, sacrilege, sacrifice, sacrilegious, execrate (detest),  desecrate, 

sanctify, sanction, sanctimonious (self-righteous), sanctum, sanctuary

salvage, save/rescue

v. 营救,拯救,打捞
He tried desperately to salvage belongings from the burning house.
save / rescue
When you rescued your trousers, did you find the note was whiter than white?
When a passing tanker rescued them five days later, both men were genuinely sorry that they had to leave.
pick sb. up
The ‘Antoinette’ floated on the water until Latham was picked up by a ship.

? sal (leap, spring forward, jump)

  • assail: attack either verbally or physically
  • salient: most important and noticeable.
  • salacious: characterized by lust
  • salience
  • sally: witty remark

sal (benefit, health, safety)

  • salute, salutatory, salutation
  • salutatorian: valedictorian
  • salutary: a salutary reminder of where we came from. 
  • salubrious

sanguine (blood)

If you are sanguine about a situation, especially a difficult one, you are confident and cheerful that everything will work out the way you want it to.


Someone who exhibits sangfroid remains completely calm and composed in the face of great difficulty.

consanguineous: related by blood

sanguinary: accompanied by bloodshed

sap, sav (in good taste, wise):  sapid,  insipid, savor, savant, savvy, sapient,

sag (perceive keenly): saga, sagacious, presage




If something, such as food or drink, satiates you, it satisfies your need or desire so completely that you often feel that you have had too much.


cause (a chemical compound, vapour, solution, magnetic material) to unite with the greatest possible amount of another substance

  • insomnia, insomniac
  • somnolent, somnolence
  • somnambulist
  • somnambulism
  • somniloquy

Son: Sounds Great!

The Latin root word son means “sound.” Let’s “sound” out this root today!

Many words come from the Latin root word son which means “sound.” For instance, a sonic boom is a very large “sound.” Sonar, originally “SOund Navigation And Ranging,” uses “sound” to detect objects under the water where they cannot be seen with the naked eye.

As one might expect, musicians and poets have created words from the root word son which means “sound.” For instance, a sonata originally meant a piece of music whose “sound” is produced through instruments only; conversely, a cantata is a piece which is sung. Poets, on the other hand, write sonnets, or short poems which at root mean a little “sound” or little song. Assonance, a device used by poets, describes the repetition of vowel “sounds” in verse. Poets sometimes create effects of dissonance, or disagreeable “sound,” to describe a disturbing situation.

Linguistics also has words that have to do with “sounding.” For instance, a consonant is a letter that must “sound” with a vowel because it has no “sound” by itself, which is why all words have vowels.

Have you ever been with a group of people who have said something in unison? If so, you all “sounded” as one, or “sounded” together. Speaking of the word “sound” itself, it too comes from the root word son for obvious reasons.

Enough “sounding” off about son. Now this root will resonate through your brain as you see the root word son, leading successfully to resounding recall!

Strat (covering, spread)

  • strata

    Strata are Earth’s layers of rock or regions of the atmosphere; they can also be the different social, cultural, and economic levels of a society.

  • prostration

    an abrupt failure of function or complete physical exhaustion

  • stratification

    the act or process or arranging persons into classes or social strata

  • stratify

    divide society into social classes or castes

  • stratosphere

    the atmospheric layer between the troposphere and the mesosphere

  • stratospheric

    of the highest region on a graded scale

  • substrate

    the substance that is acted upon by an enzyme or ferment

strict, string (drawn tight, confined)

  • stricture

    stricture is a rule or condition that imposes restrictions or limits on what you can do.

  • constrict

    squeeze or press together

  • constriction

    a narrowing that reduces the flow through a channel

  • constrictive

    (of circumstances) tending to constrict freedom

  • district

    regulate housing in

  • restrict

    place restrictions on

  • restriction

    a principle that limits the extent of something

  • restrictive

    serving to restrict

  • straiten

    bring into difficulties or distress, especially financial hardship

  • straitjacket

    anything immaterial that severely hinders or confines

  • straits

    a bad or difficult situation or state of affairs

  • strict

    rigidly accurate

  • strictness

    conscientious attention to rules and details

  • astringent

    When you are astringent towards someone, you speak to or write about them in a critical and hurtful manner.

  • constrain

    When you are constrained, you are forced to do something or are kept from doing it.

  • stringent

    Stringent measures or rules are strict, severe, and controlled in a very tight fashion.

  • unrestrained

    Someone who is unrestrained is free to do as they please; they are not controlled by anyone but themselves, which can lead to excessive behavior.

  • restraint

    When someone has restraint, they show self-control or self-discipline, which provides limits to what they do.

  • constraint

    the state of being physically constrained

  • distress

    bring into difficulties or distress, especially financial hardship

  • restrain

    keep under control

  • strain(n.)

    (physics) deformation of a physical body under the action of applied forces

  • strain(v.)

    to exert much effort or energy

  • stress

    to stress, single out as important

  • string

    thread on or as if on a string

  • stringy

    lean and sinewy


Undertake the Sub Prefix Subway

Prefixes are key morphemes in English vocabulary that begin words. The prefix sub-, with its variants suc-suf-sug-sup-, and sur-, all mean “under.”

Sub- is the most common form of this prefix. A submarine, for instance, travels “under” the sea. A subway is the way to travel “under” a city. When you have a subpar performance, it is “under” what it should be. When you subscribe to a magazine, you “under”write it so as to provide the writers of the magazine with money for their efforts. And a subterranean cave is “under” the earth.

Sub- also has a large number of variant spellings, which not only all begin with su-, making them easy to spot, but also follow the rules of prefix assimilation, which makes the word easier to say. Let’s take a look at a number of these spelling variants so that you can get the hang of them.

The prefix sub- changes naturally to suf-, which also means “under,” in front of roots that begin with an f. If a prefix begins or sits at the “top” of a word, a suffix is fixed “under” or “at the foot of” it. How silly “subfix” would sound! If something is sufficient, enough has been made or done “under” it to hold it up. Again, “subficient” just doesn’t work. And when one suffers, one carries “under” herself a heavy burden. Imagine our suffering if we had to say “I am subferring from a cold!”

Let’s look at some other variants of sub-, which follow three common rules:
1. All mean “under.”
2. All begin with su-.
3. All follow the rules of prefix assimilation.

  • Succor: When you succor another person, you run “under” her in order to help her.
  • Suggest: When you suggest something, you carry it “under” the notice of other people.
  • Support: When someone supports you, she goes “under” you to carry you in some way.
  • Surreal: Something surreal is not quite real, but is “under” that which is real, hence seems dreamlike.

Don’t be taken “under” by words that contain sub-, but realize that sub- and its variants beginning with su- just want to take you “under” their linguistic wing!

  • surreal: a surreal mix of fact and fantasy
  • surreptitious: They carried on a surreptitious affair. 
  • surrogate: substitute
  • She served as a surrogate for the President on a trip to the South America. 
  • supplant

    To supplant someone is to replace them with someone else, usually because the latter is more powerful or better in some way.

  • supplicant

    supplicant is someone who humbly and respectfully asks for something from another who is powerful enough to grant the request.

  • supplement

    When you supplement, you add on some extra to something to make up for a lack in it.

  • suppress

    When something is suppressed, it is blocked from occurring or kept contained in some way.

  • support

    When you support someone, you help them do something or agree with what they are doing.

  • supplicate

    ask humbly (for something)

  • supply

    give something useful or necessary to

  • suppose

    express a supposition

  • susceptible

    If you are susceptible to something, such as a disease or emotion, you are likely or inclined to be affected by it.

  • sustenance

    Sustenance is that which supports life; it usually refers to food or nourishment of some kind or to one’s livelihood.

  • sustainable

    Something sustainable can be maintained, supported, or kept going over a long period of time.

  • sustain

    If something, such as food or love, sustains you, it helps you or keeps you going over a long period of time.

  • suspect

    not as expected

  • suspend

    hang freely

  • suspenseful

    (of a situation) characterized by or causing suspense

  • suspicious

    openly distrustful and unwilling to confide

  • sustainability

    the property of being sustainable

  • surface
  • survive
  • surmise (conjecture, speculate)
  • surmount = sur + mount (place) = overcome
  • surfeit = sur + feit (made, done) = excess
  • unsurpassed
  • surpass
  • surcharge
  • surround
  • survey
  • surveillance
  • surcease = sur + cease
  • surname

Superman Surpasses All Superheroes

Prefixes are key morphemes in English vocabulary that begin words. The prefix super- and its variant sur- mean “over.”

We all know that the DC Comics hero Superman is the hero who stands “over” all other men in power. He is the superstar in the DC Comics line of heroes, or the star that stands “over” other heroic stars, such as Batman and Wonder Woman. Speaking of superstars, the football game that stands “over” all other football games is, you got it, the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl features the superior teams from the AFC and the NFC divisions facing off against each other, that is, the two teams that stood “over” all the rest during the football season.

School systems love to have members of management who stand “over” all others, such as superintendents, who are in charge of entire school systems. They supervise, or watch “over” the schools in their respective districts.

A variant of the prefix super-, which also means “above,” is the morpheme sur-. For instance, a surname is that name which is “over” a family and thereby identifies it, or the family’s last name. The surface of something is etymologically the face that lies “over” what it’s covering. When you surpass everyone else’s SAT scores at your school, you pass “over” them all, thus getting the highest score. One who takes a survey of people wants to look “over” what they think. And have you ever been hit with a surcharge on your cell phone bill, those sneaky little charges that go “over” what you are supposed to pay? Sometimes you’d like to hit those kinds of charges “over” the head!

Now that you have been surrounded with superlative examples of words which contain the prefixes super- and sur-, you will never again have to look those words “over” twice before knowing what they mean. That’s just supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

clash, crash, flash, dash, gash, gnash, hash, quash, squash, bash, smash, splash, trash

Be No Longer Separated from “Se-“

Prefixes are key morphemes in English vocabulary that begin words. Even though the prefix se- means “apart,” this podcast will no longer keep you “apart” from understanding words with se- in them!

Have you ever had a secret, or piece of sensitive information that you wanted kept “apart” from the ears of people so as to hide it? Most people are dying to tell their secrets, so they carefully select or single out or “apart” one of their friends to whom to tell the secret with the caution that the selected friend keep it hidden. Sometimes it’s very hard to separate or keep “apart” one friend from the rest to whom to reveal the secret. That select friend may end up revealing the secret anyway, which might prompt you to sever that friendship, hence cutting it “apart” from being whole.

Sometimes those things kept “apart” aren’t so good. For instance, when Britain during Brexit seceded or went “apart” from the European Union, there was a lot of financial difficulty. Keeping people segregated or “apart” from one another causes many hard feelings and is often unjust. A sedition or going “apart” from an existing government in a rebellion can in the long term be a good thing, but can also cause great hardship in the short term.

Then again, going “apart” can have its advantages. If you have a big test to study for, it is probably best to seclude or shut yourself “apart” from others so as to be able to concentrate. This would allow you to work in a sedulous fashion, “apart” from not getting your work completed and hence “apart” from slacking off!

Are you now feeling more secure about the prefix se-? Hopefully you are indeed “apart” from care or worry concerning words that have se- in them!

sever, secede, sedition, seclude, segregate

  • fulsome

    Praise, an apology, or gratitude is fulsome if it is so exaggerated and elaborate that it does not seem sincere.

  • noisome

    If something is noisome, it is extremely unpleasant, especially because it is very dirty or has an awful smell.

  • toothsome

    Something is toothsome when it is tasty, attractive, or pleasing in some way; this adjective can apply to food, people, or objects.

  • winsome

    Someone who is winsome is attractive and charming.

  • lissome

    If a dancer is lissome, she moves gracefully and is very flexible.


  • stereotype

    stereotype is a customary way of thinking about a particular group of people that is narrow-minded and often faulty.

  • cholesterol

    an animal sterol that is normally synthesized by the liver

  • progesterone

    a steroid hormone (trade name Lipo-Lutin) produced in the ovary

  • stereo

    designating sound transmission from two sources through two channels

  • stereotypical

    lacking spontaneity or originality or individuality

  • steroid

    any of several fat-soluble organic compounds having as a basis 17 carbon atoms in four rings

  • testosterone

    a potent androgenic hormone produced chiefly by the testes

Symply Synsational Together!

The English prefix syn- along with its variant sym- mean “together.” Today we will synthesize what is known about these prefixes, making you sympathetic towards them!

Let’s begin today with the more common prefix syn-, which means “together.” When two people possess synergy, they work well, creating positive, flowing energy “together.” When clocks are synchronized, their times are placed “together” so that they all show the same time. A synonym is a word that can be placed “together” with another because they have similar meanings. The syntax of a sentence is the way in which words are put “together” so that they make sense.

A Jewish house of worship is called a synagogue, which etymologically means a place where people are led “together” to worship. And a synthesis? That would be a placing “together” of separate elements into a unified, intelligible whole.

For the purposes of symmetry, let’s now move on to the most common variant of syn-, or sym-, which also means “together.” A symphony is the sounding “together” of many instruments. If you were to cut a figure which possesses perfect symmetry exactly in half, both halves would measure “together” perfectly equally. A symbol is a sign that stands for or represents something, thereby throwing the two “together.”

Cold symptoms, such as a runny nose and coughing, are those results or indications that fall “together” with that particular viral disease. You might feel sympathy for someone suffering from cold symptoms, able to feel her suffering “together” with her.

Your linguistic synapses will now fire at full capacity when thrown “together” with those simply sensational syn- and sym-!

  1. synergy: energy created ‘together’ with another
  2. synchronize: to place two clocks ‘together’ in time
  3. synonym: a word that can be placed ‘together’ with another due to closeness in meaning
  4. syntax: an arranging ‘together’ of words in a sentence to make it meaningful
  5. synagogue: a place where people are led ‘together’ for worship
  6. synthesis: a placing ‘together’ of separate elements into a unified whole
  7. symphony: a sounding ‘together’ of instruments
  8. symmetry: two objects which can be measured ‘together’ perfectly
  9. symbol: a sign thrown ‘together’ with that which it represents
  10. symptom: an indication that falls ‘together’ with an ailment or disease
  11. sympathy: a feeling of suffering ‘together’ with another person
  12. synapse: that which allows two nerves to join ‘together’
  • symbiotic

    symbiotic relationship is one in which two organisms, organizations, or people intimately depend on each other, both acting to benefit the relationship.

  • symposium

    symposium is a formal meeting at which several experts or specialists deliver short talks or discuss a particular subject.

  • symmetry

    Objects that possess symmetry have equally balanced halves or evenness of shape after being divided in half.

  • asymmetry

    (mathematics) a lack of symmetry

  • symbiosis

    the relation between two different species of organisms that are interdependent

  • symbol

    an arbitrary sign (written or printed) that has acquired a conventional significance

  • sympathy

    an inclination to support or be loyal to or to agree with an opinion

  • symphony

    a long and complex sonata for symphony orchestra

  • symptom

    (medicine) any sensation or change in bodily function that is experienced by a patient and is associated with a particular disease

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