2019 Term 2 Primary School Blocks Example

1. Aqua- 


  • aqualung – an underwater breathing device used by divers
  • aquamarine – a shade between blue and green; a blue-green gemstone (beryl)
  • aquarium – a building or tank in which plants, fish and other aquatic animals are kept
  • aquarius – a water-carrier; a group of stars (resembling a person pouring water from a jar)
  • aqueduct – an artificial channel; a water supply system
  • aquifer – an underwater formation of rocks that contain or transmit water

An aqueous substance is a watery substance.  An aquatic plant or animal lives in water.

“Aquaman” is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books.  (In the 2018 film “Aquaman” the central character is a half-Atlantean/half-human who is reluctant to be king of the undersea nation of Atlantis.)

2. Aero-

air, atmosphere – Greek

  • Aerodrome – an airfield
  • aeroplane – an aircraft
  • aerofoil – an aeroplane wing; the cross-sectional shape of a wing or blade
  • aerobatics – stunts or manoeuvres performed by one or more aeroplanes

We use the word aerial to refer to things like planes, birds and helicopters that exist or function in the air.

3. Astro-

star, star shaped – Greek

  • asteroid – a space rock, a minor planet
  • asterisk – a symbol (a little star) that is used in text as a pointer to as footnote
  • astronaut – a spaceman, a cosmonaut
  • astronomer – a natural scientist who studies the stars, planets and objects in space
  • astronomy – the branch of science that deals with objects and space beyond the earth’s atmosphere
  • astrology – a (pseudoscientific) belief that the position of the planets affects the behaviour of people
  • astrologer – someone who informs people about their future based on the positions of the planets

Synonyms for the adjective “astronomical” are “celestial” and “stellar”.   We also use the adjective astronomical to refer to extremely large (enormous, vast or monumental) objects.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. Anti-

against, opposed to – Green

  • 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.

7. 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

In Ancient Rome, the word “album” referred to white tablet or register on which public notices were recorded.

These days, the term “album”, can be used to refer to a blank souvenir book in which autographs, photographs or signatures are collected.

8. 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.

9. Arch-

ruler, principal – Green

  • 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.

10. 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.