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Word Roots: T


token, take, tool, tell, table, ten, tend, tax, technology, temper, terror, test, turn, tract, 


  • 上帝: the
  • 记录事情,故事,tabl, them, thes, 
  • 记录时间,temp
  • 温度:therm
  • 这个东西是属于某人的,土地的界限打下的桩子。 “拥有,持有” have, hold
  • 把事物汇总记录,分开记录: tom, thes, 

tabl (plank, board): table, tablet,  tabular, tabulate,

tableau, tableaux, tableau vivant, 


On the table, off the table, under the table. 

tain, ten, tin (hold): obtain, tenet, continue 

Hold the Spelling Variants of “Ten” in Mind

Spelling variants often occur to a primary root word. The root word ten: “hold,” for instance, present in the words tenant and maintenance, has variant spellings of tintain, and tent. Let’s see how these variants, which all also mean “hold,” play out in English vocabulary.

Let’s begin with the root word tin, which means “hold.” A continent, for instance, is “held” together in one large land mass. Something that is pertinent or relevant to a situation thoroughly “holds” with it because it is an important part of it. If events happen on a continuous or continual basis they are being “held” without letting go. Continuous rain over a two-day period would be “holding” with no breaks; continual rain would “hold” as well, but have brief respites.

Another spelling variant of the English root ten is tain, which also means “hold.” When you retain control, you “hold” onto it. When you maintain your car, you “hold” it in good working condition. When you obtain an item, you then “hold” it. A container has a certain amount of space with which it can “hold” items. And just what is it that an entertainer does? She “holds” interest among an audience!

Tent is also a variant of the root ten, which also means “hold.” One’s retention of factual information is how much data one can “hold” in one’s mind. The factual content of a book is how much information it “holds.” And what happens if you are put in detention at school? You are “held” from others in a separate room, usually for some sort of infraction of school rules.

An easy way to remember that tententtin, and tain all mean to “hold” is by using the following memory hook: Ten Containers “Hold” the Discontented Tin Man. 🙁

Now that you can retain the fact that the English root word ten means “hold,” it should really have a hold on you! You will find this information highly pertinent as your English vocabulary content begins to balloon!

abstain, detain (hold back), retain, sustain, pertain, pertaining

tenet, tenable, tenacity, tenacious, retention, abstention,  sustenance, countenance, appurtenance

retinue, pertinacious, pertinacity, pertinent, abstinence, continence

tend, tens, tent (stretch): extent

tent: stretch, temporary

distend (to ~ the stomach)

portent, tentative

contend (~ that …, ~ with sb.; vie for VIP, contest)

tend, tens, tent (stretch, stretched):

  • distend, pretend, tendency, tendentious, contend, content 
  • tension, pretense, ostensible, tensile, 
  • pretentious, contentious, portent, detente

tang, ting (touch, reach, effect):

  • tangible, tangent, cotangent, tangential, 
  • contagion, contagious
  • integral
  • contingent, contingency, contiguity

tact, tax , tech, (C/K-tool, touch, arrange, contact):

  • tact, tactics,
  • contact, tactile, 
  • syntax, taxonomy, taxidermy

tac (silent): tacit (insinuate), taciturn, reticent 

taph (tomb): epitaph, cenotaph

tinct (prick, quench): distinct, instinct, extinct

tedi (weariness): teddy bear

tedium, fastidious (fast + tid), 

temper (regulate, modify):

  • temper, temperance, temperamental
  • temperature, temperate, 
  • tempest, tempestuous,
  • temper justice with mercy
  • troops tempered in battle

temp (time): tempo, extempore, extemporaneous, offhand

Time Is “Temp”orary

The Latin root word temp means “time.” A quick two-minute tempo for this podcast will have you learning this Latin root in no “time” at all!

temporal life span is one bound by “time,” a condition that all life on planet Earth is governed by. People who live at the same “time” as others are contemporary with one another, living contemporaneously or at the same “time.” Unfortunately, mortal life is but a temporary event defined by a relatively short “time.” Any temp or temporary worker at a business, whose job lasts for only a limited period of “time,” will tell you how quickly that “time” goes! As people get older, they understand more and more the old Latin saying tempus fugit: “time” flies.

For all of us who have played an instrument, we know that each musical piece has a certain tempo or “time,” that is, how fast or slow it should be performed. Imagine going to a recital not having practiced the piece you were slated to play … you would be forced to play extemporaneously since you would be out of “time” to practice. If you were truly unsure about the piece you were supposed to play, you might have tried temporizing in order to gain more “time” to prepare. You could also hope for a contretemps of sorts to save the day, or an inopportune happening that interrupts the smooth flow of “time.” Only that somewhat risky wish come true could put a stop to the extemporizing or playing of the piece that you didn’t have enough “time” to prepare for in the first place!

And a tempest? A tempest or storm comes around only during certain “times” of the day or year; witness that afternoon thunderstorm that always seems to come at the same “time” of day during the summer!

Now that our allotted “time” is over, I’ll take no more of your “time” so that you can be on “time” for whatever temporary event is up next for you!

tenu (thin): attenuate, extenuate, tenuity, tenuous, 

termin (boundary, end, limit): coterminous, exterminate, terminus

  • a voting district coterminous with the city (coincident)
  • … an experience of life coterminous with the years of his father. Elizabeth Hardwick (coexistent)

terr (earth, land; RR-king + king):

  • inter, disinter, interment,
  • terrain, terrier, terrestrial, subterranean, 

Terrific Terra

The Latin root word terr means “earth” or “land.” So that words with terr in them shall “terrify” you not, “land” here for a small amount of time in terr learning territory!

Humans like to have their own territory, or piece of the “earth” in which they and only they live. People can be highly territorial about this “land,” and so they put up physical fences to mark their territory. The more valuable the territory, the better the terrain or general characteristics of the “earth” or “land” in which the territory lies, that is, whether it has mountains, fertile soil, rolling hills, forests, etc. The Mediterranean Sea, for instance, was once the territory of the Romans since they had conquered all the “lands” around it; the word Mediterranean was formed to mean “in the middle of the land” since it lies in the middle of Europe and Africa. All those territories had practically every terrain imaginable!

Have you ever wondered why all the planets are named after Roman gods (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, etc.) except Earth? If you were to look at a scientific map of the solar system, however, you would see Earth referred to as Terra Mater, which came from the Latin goddess of the “Earth.” Terra is a terrestrial planet, or planet made up of solid “land,” such as Venus and Mars. If astronomers were to find life on these other planets they would classify it as extraterrestrial since it would be outside of our own planet “Earth.”

Imagine that you had a tiny terrier, a dog that is so named because its breed hunts animals under the “land,” that is, in burrows. Your terrier is so tiny that it fits into a terrarium, or container which has plants and “earth” in it. The terrier would probably dig into that earth, perhaps to discover if anything had been interred or buried there, that is, put into the “earth.” And, if you didn’t watch out, that terrier might disinter or dig out of that “land” anything buried there!

You can now claim larger linguistic territory with your expanded knowledge of the root word terr!

terr (frighten): terror, deterrent, 

  • cameras are a major deterrent to crime. 

tim (fear): timorous, intimidate, timid

torr (horrible things in records – fire and flood): torrid, torrent, torrential

test (proof, indicator, witness): intestate, attest, contest, detest, protest

text (weave) 

them (proposition, idea put forth): theme, thematic, anathema, anathematize, 

therm (heat): thermal, thermos, thermostat, thermometer, hyperthermia, hypothermia

thes / thet (put, place): epithet, parenthesis, parenthetical, synthesis, thesaurus, synthetic, synthesize, hypothesis

the (god): apotheosis, theocracy, pantheon

tol (tall, raise, endure) extol

tom (cut): atom, tome, epitome, epitomize, 

dichotomy, anatomy, appendectomy, tonsillectomy, mastectomy, hysterectomy (uterus), prostatectomy

entomology = en + tom + ology (head, thorax, abdomen),

ton (tone, sound): catatonia, intonation

top (place): dystopia, utopia

torp (be stiff, be numb): torpor, torpid, torpedo

tort (twisted, wound, wrapped): contort, extort, retort, distort, tortuous, tortoise, torture, torturous

tour (circle): entourage, detour, contour, tourniquet, 

toxic (poison): intoxicate

tract (pull): contract

Plowing the Roots Field with “Tract”or

The Latin root word tract means “drag” or “pull.”

tractor, for instance, “drags” or “pulls” heavy equipment, that is, it is a “dragger” of plows, combines, hay balers and the like. Smoothly working tractors are attractive farm implements; farmers are “dragged” or “pulled” to tractors since they so depend on them to get their heavy work done. A malfunctioning tractor detracts or “drags” from successful farm work being completed. No farmer wants a tractor that doesn’t work!

When you subtract 3 from 5, you “drag” 3 away from 5, leaving but 2. Perhaps you learned how to subtract while in elementary school, unless of course you were highly distracted by other students, or “pulled” away by them.

No one likes to have a tooth forcibly extracted, or “pulled” out by a dentist. In fact, there may have been a fair number of times when your parents found you to be intractable, or unable to be “dragged” to the dentist—in other words, you were being stubborn! They probably wished you would have been more tractable, that is, able to be “pulled” or managed more easily.

Let’s continue on with the root word tract: “pull” or “drag.” Have you ever signed a contract? A contract is simply an agreement “pulled” together in a legal fashion. A contract is meant to keep the signers from retracting or “pulling” back on what they promised to do. And a contract often can prevent a protracted or “dragged” out legal battle that consumes a great deal of time.

Do your running shoes have good traction, that is, are you able to “drag” them along the ground when you want to stop, or are you slipping and sliding everywhere? If the latter is the case, you might become distraught or emotionally “pulled” apart at the seams … time for a new pair! Note that traught is simply a variant of tract.

I hope that you feel you’ve gained some traction by learning that tract means “drag” or “pull.” Now you will be able to easily extract meaning from English vocabulary words containing the root word tract!

  • detract (drag from, derogate, depreciate),
  • protract (drag forth in time, prolong, drag out, extend, elongate),
  • intractable,
  • retract
  • small errors that do not seriously detract from the book

trans- (across)

Take the “Trans” Train

Today we will focus on the prefix trans- and its variant tra-, which mean “across.” Prefixes are morphemes which begin words, attaching to a word’s main part, or root, adding to the meaning of the word in some way.

The carrying “across” of people from one place to another is transportation, which can occur in many kinds of vehicles. When you transfer money from checkings to savings, you carry it “across” from one account to the other. A translucent substance allows some light to go “across” it to the other side. A transparent substance allows all light to go “across” it. And a translation? It is a going “across” from one language into another.

Imagine a transatlantic voyage, or one that goes “across” the Atlantic Ocean, made by a ship. This form of transit, or going “across” a passage, was once more common than it is now. When horrific storms came up on these long journeys, voyagers could often be transformed, their normal mode of behavior taken “across” into whole new forms of heroism and survival techniques.

A variant of the prefix trans-tra-, also means “across.” A trajectory is the path that a thrown object travels “across” during its journey. When you traverse a country, you travel “across” it. And when you traduce someone’s character, you lead it from its current good state “across” to one of dishonor or disgrace.

Now you will be able to translate any word that you do not know with the prefix trans- in it into something having to do with going or being “across!”

treat (drawn) : treaty

entreat, trait, portray, portrait, portraiture, treatise, 

trem (tremble)

tremolo, tremor, tremulous, tremendous

trepid (fearful)

intrepid, trepidation

tribut (divided, granted, given credit)

retribution, retributive, tribute, 

tric (entangle, make difficulties) trick

extricate, intricate, 

trit (rubbed, worn away) trite 

contrite, detritus, detriment, triteness, tribulation

troph (nourishment, food): trophy

atrophy, dystrophy, hypertrophy

trop (turn, change): trope

entropy, tropism, tropical, tropics, heliotrope, 

trud, trus (thrust, push): intrude

  • obtrude, protrude, 
  • unobtrusive (unassuming), abstruse, 

trunc (trunk, removed by chopping, dismembered): trunk

  • truncate, 
  • trench, trenchant, 

tum (swell, disturbance, uproar):

  • tumor;
  • t (mark) – u (wind, fire) + m (wanter)

tumult (loud noise), tumultuous, contumacy (stubborn), contumacious (rebellious), contumely, contumelious (humiliating, cultural revolution), tumescence, tumid (swollen),  

turb (confusion, turmoil, disorder): disturb

turbid (limpid), turbidity, turbine, turbulence, perturb, (commotion)

tut (protect, catch sight of): tutor, tutorial

  • t (mark) + u (wind, fire) + t (mark)


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