1. Auto- self Latin
autobiography – someone’s life-story written by himself/herself
autograph – someone’s own signature
automaton – a mechanical device that works on its own
automobile – a car; a passenger vehicle
autonomy – the right to self-government
An automobile (or just plain auto) is a self-propelling motorcar.
An automatic device or mechanism is one that can work without human control (or with limited human control).
When we do something automatically, we mean that we do it without conscious thought.
2. Agri- field Latin
agribusiness – a business that produce or sell agricultural products
agriculture – farming or the science of farming
agriculturalist – an expert on agriculture
agrochemical – a chemical product used in farming (e.g. a fertiliser or pesticide)
agronomy – the branch of agriculture that deals with crop production and soil management
An agritourist is someone who stays on a farm or ranch and who participates in agricultural activities like fishing, horse-riding, hunting, harvest festivals and wine tasting.
3. Anti- against, opposed to Greek
anti-aircraft – weapons (missiles) used for defence against hostile aircraft
antibiotics – medicines used to treat bacterial infections
antibody – a specialised, protective blood protein
antiseptic – a disinfectant, a germicide
antithesis – the direct opposite, the inverse
antidote – medicine taken to counteract poison
Antiseptics are antimicrobial substances that prevent sepsis (infection). They are substances that “work against” sepsis; they “oppose” or fight infection.
We find the abbreviated form of anti- in words such as antonym and Antarctic. Antonyms for the word “small” are words with opposite meanings; words like “huge” or “large”. The Antarctic is on the opposite side of the globe as the Arctic.
4. Alb- dull white Latin
albatross – a large, white, oceanic bird
albumen – egg white (the protein in egg white)
albino* – an organism with a lack of pigmentation; someone with white hair, a pale skin and pink eyes
album* – a book with blank pages that is used for keeping photographs or stamps
These days, the term “album”, can be used to refer to a blank souvenir book in which autographs, photographs or signatures are collected.
5. Alt- high Latin
altar – an elevated table in a church
altimeter – an instrument that is used (in aircraft) to measure altitude
altitude – height above sea (or ground) level
alto – a fairly high-pitched, male singing voice
An altar is an elevated or raised table or structure that is used for religious rites.
“… occasionally men are described as altos — in which case, the word describes a fairly high-pitched singing voice — it more often describes a woman whose voice is lower than a soprano.”
An altarpiece is a work of art that decorates the area behind and above an altar.
6. Arch- ruler, principal Greek
archduke – a chief duke
archbishop – a chief bishop in a province
archangel – the chief angel
architect – someone who designs buildings and supervises their construction
arch-rival – the arch-enemy, the main opponent, a nemesis
The words “monarchy”, “matriarch”, “patriarch” and “anarchy” stem from the word “arch” that meant “ruler” in Latin.
A monarch is a single ruler (a king), a matriarch is a female leader of a family or clan and a patriarch is a male leader of a family or clan. An anarchist is someone who believes in a form of government without a central (or hierarchical) rule.
7. Aud- hearing, listening Latin
audiobook – a recording (on CD) of a text – usually a novel
auditorium – the part of a building (theatre or concert hall) where the audience sits
audition – a trial hearing or interview given to a performing artist
audience – the group of listeners (or spectators) at a play, concert or meeting; a formal interview with an important person
When something is “audible” it can be heard.
The term “auditory” refers to hearing or the ears, whereas the term “visual” refers to sight or the eyes.
8. Ab- away from Latin
abdicator – a denouncer, a denier, a relinquisher
abductor – a kidnapper, a hijacker, a hostage taker
abnormality – an irregularity, a deviation
abrasive – a substance that is used to shape or polish a surface
absconder – an escapee, a fugitive, a quitter
abstainer – a teetotaller, a non-drinker, an abstinent
A kidnapper or an abductor is someone who leads a person away. If something is abnormal it is literally away from normal. An abrasive is a substance that scrapes dirt away from a surface. An abstainer is someone who stays away from alcohol (or excessive amounts of food).
9. Ad- towards Latin
adapter – an attachment, a connection, a coupling, a link
adherent – a supporter, a follower, a devotee
adhesive – a sealant, a binder, glue, cement
adjustment – a modification, an alteration, an adaptation
advisor – a guide, an instructor, a consultant
advocate – a defender, a lawyer, a promotor
An adapter is a device that fits to or joins something else.
Glue and cement are adhesives that literally stick two objects together. An adherent is a supporter who figuratively sticks to (or follows) a leader.
10. Avi- bird Latin
aviary – a birdhouse, a cage, a bird sanctuary
aviculture – the rearing or keeping of birds
aviation – air transport; the production, operation and development of aircraft
aviator – a pilot, a flyer, an aeronaut
Avian flu is a grand term for bird flu. Avian medicine is the medical treatment of birds.