Tag Archives: Latin language

200 Latin Roots to Improve Your Vocabulary

Posted on 09. Apr, 2014 by in Latin Language


Whenever learning a new language, students are often overwhelmed by the fact that they must study the grammar and vocabulary. Vocabulary can be tough for anyone, but especially for those learning a new language for the first time or one like Latin which not spoken. However, the vocabulary in Latin should be easier since Latin is integrated into many modern languages: French, Italian, Spanish, English, etc.

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Here is a wonderful list of the most basic roots any Latin learner should know! This list is also helpful to anyone wishing to improve their vocabulary along with test taking skills. So, if you are studying for the GRE, MCAT, LSAT, or even the SATs; this is a great chart for you to study, make flash cared and improve your ability to dissect words to discover their meanings!

ab-, a-, abs- away from, without abnormal, absent, abstain, avert
acu- sharp acupuncture, acute,
ad-, a-, ac-, af-, ag-, al-, ap-, ar-, as-, at-  movement to or toward; in addition to accept, adapt, affect, aggression, approximate, ascend
ag-, act- do act, agent
am-, amat- love amatory, amorous
ambi- both sides ambidextrous, ambivalent
ann-, -enn- year, yearly anniversary, annual, millennium
ante-, anti- before, against antebellum,antediluvian anticipate,
aqu- water aquamarine, aquarium, aqueduct
audi- to hear, hearing audio, auditorium, audible
aug-, auct- grow, increase augment, augend,
bell- war antebellum, bellicose, belligent
ben- good, well benefit, benevolent
bi- two bicycle, binoculars, binary
brev- short, brief abbreviation, brevity,
cad-, -cid-, cas- fall cadence, accident, case
caed-, -cid-, caes-, -cis cut scissor, incision, incisor
cand- glowing, brilliant, shiny candle, incandescent, candor,
cap-, -cip-, capt-, -cept- take, hold capture, captive, recipient,
capit-, -cipit- head capital, precipitation, decapitation
carn- flesh carnal, carnivore
carp- wrist carpal tunnel syndrome, carpal
cav- hollow cavity, cave
ced-, cess- go proceed, procession, succession,
celer- quick(ly) celerity, acceleration
cent- 100 century, cent,
ceter- other “et cetera” = “and the rest, others”
circum- around circumference, circumnavigate,
clar- clear, distinct clarity, declare
con-, co-, col-, com-, cor- together community, coalesce, conjoined,
corn- horn cornucopia, unicorn
cred- believe, trust credulous, credit, incredible
curr-, curs- run current (river), cursive
de- away from descend, dementia
dent- tooth, teeth dental, dentures
dict- speak, say dictate, predict, dictionary
doc-, doct- teach doctor, doctrine
duc-, duct- lead conduct, produce, abduct,
dur- hard durable, obdurate, duress
ed-, es- eat edible, obesity
ego- I, myself, the self egocentric, ego
err- stray error, aberration
extrem- outer most extreme, extremities,
fac-, -fic-, fact, -fect- make, do manufacture, factory,
fer- carry, bear transfer
fin- end finish, finite
form- shape form, formation, conform, deformity
fort- strong fort, fortification
frang-, -fring-, fract-, frag- break fracture, fragment, infringe
fug-, fugit- flee fugitive, refuge
fund-, fus- pour fusion, profuse, profusion, transfusion
gen- race, kind genes, genetics
glob- sphere globe, global
grad-, -gred-, gress- walk, step, go transgress, gradations, regress
grand- grand, big grandiose, grandeur
graph- write, draw telegraph, graphite,
grat- thankful, pleased gratitude, gratuity, grateful,ingrate
grav- heavy grave, aggravation
hab-, -hib-, habit-, -hibit- have habit, inhibit, prohibition,
hom- same homogeneous
hospit- host hospitality, hospital
ign- fire, firey ignite, igneous rocks, ignition
in- (1), im- in, on invite, incur, immitate
in- (2), il-, im-, ir- not, un, no impossible, irrational, inappropriate, illegal
inter- between intermission, intersection
intra-intro- within intramural, introspection
irasc-, irat- be or grow angry irate, irascible
is-, iso- equal isometric, isosceles triangle
jac- lie adjacent
ject- throw eject, reject
janu- door, begin janitor, january
jus-, jur- law jury, justice
juven- youthful juvenal
labor- work labor, collaboration
lacer- tear laceration
lact- milk lactate, lactose
lamin- layer laminate
larv- mask larva,
lax- not tense relax, laxative, lax,
leg- send legate, relegate
lev- lift, hold elevate, lever, levitation
liber- free liberty, liberation
libr- book library, librarian
lig- bind ligament
lingu- language, tonigue bilingual, linguistics,
liter- letter literal, literacy,obliterate
loqu-, locut- speak, speech colloqual, eloquent,
luc- light, bright lucent, lucid, Lucifer (bearer of Light)
lumin- light luminous
lun- moon lunar, lunatic
magn- large magnitude, magnanimous
manu- hand manual, manufacture
man- stay permanent, remanence,
medi-, -midi middle middle, medieval, median
merc- reward, wages, hire mercenaries, mercantile
min- small minute, minority
moll- soft mollify, emollient
morph- shape morph, morphology
mov-, mot- move, motion motive, motivation, movie, motor,
mult- many multiple, multiply, multitude
nasc-, nat- born natal, native, nascent
necr- dead necrophilia, necropolis
noct- night nocturnal
nu- nod innuendo
nunci- announce pronunciation, enunciation
ob-, o-, oc-, of-, og-, op-, os- against obstinate, obstreperous, occur, offend, omit, oppose, ostentatious
oct- 8 octagon, octopus,
-oid -like asteroid (like a star)
-onym name antonym, pseudonym
orn- decorate ornament, ornate
oss- bone ossification
ov- egg ovum
pac- peace pacifism
pal- stake impale
pand-, pans- spread pandemic
pasc-, past- feed repast
pati-, pass feel, suffer patience,passive
pauc- few paucal, paucity,
pecun- money pecuniary
ped- feet quadruped, pedal
pell-, puls- drive propellant,repellent
pen- almost peninsula, penultimate, penumbra
pent- 5 pentagon
per- through permeate, persistence, pervade
pessim- worst pessimistic
pet- strive towards appetite, competition
pil- hair depilatory, epilator
ping-, pict- paint depiction, picture
phon- sound microphone
plas- mould plastic
plac-, -plic- please placid,
plan- flat explanation, planar, plane
plaud-, -plod-, plaus-, -plos- approve, clap, applaud explosion, implode, plaudits, plausible
plur- more plural, surplus
pole-, poli- city metropolis, politics
pon-, posit- put component, position, postpone
prehend-, prend-, prehens- grasps prehensile, comprehend
prem-, -prim-, press- press pressure
prim- first primary, primeval, primitive
priv- separate deprivation, privilege
pro- forward procrastinate, propulsion, produce
propri- property, ownership appropriate, property, propriety
prot- first protoplasm, prototype
proxim- nearest proximity
pub- sexually mature pubescent, pubic
pugn- fight pugnacious, repugnant
pung-, punct- prick puncture, pungent
puni- punish punishment, impunity, punitive
purg- cleanse expurgate, purge
qui- quiet quiet, requiem
quot- how many, how great quotient
rad-, ras- scrape abrade, erasure
reg-, -rig-, rect- straight direct, erect
retro- backward, past retrospect, retro,
rid-, ris- laugh ridiculous, ridicule, derision
rod-, ros- gnaw erosion, rodent
rog- ask interrogation, derogatory
rump-, rupt- break eruption, rupture, interrupt
sacr-, secr- holy sacred, sacrosanct
scand-, -scend-, scans-, -scens- climb ascend, descend, transcend
scop-, scept look, examine telescope, microscope
sec-, sect-, seg- cut dissect, section, segment,
sed-, -sid-, sess- sit reside, supesede
serv- save, serve conserve, serve, servitude
sign- sign design, signal, signature
sol- alone desolate, solitude
spec-, -spic-, spect- look, see speculation, suspicious
st- stand stasis, stable, station
stingu-, stinct- apart distinguish, exstinct
stru-, struct- build construe, structure
sub-, su-, suf-, sug-, sup-, sus- under submarine, suppress,
tac-, -tic- be silent reticent, tacit
tang-, -ting-, tact-, tag- touch tangible, tactile
tempor- time temporal, temporary
tend-, tens- stretch extenuate, tension
termin- end, boundary terminal, terminate
terr- earth terra, terrain, subterranean
test- bear witness testimony, testament
tex-, text- weave (literal or words) textile, subtext, context, texture
tim- be afraid timid, timorous
torn-, tourn- turn, rotate tournament, tornado
tot- whole, all total, totality
trans-, tra-, tran- carry transport, transfer
traum- wound trauma, traumatic
tri- three triangle, trivia
trin- three of each trinity, trinary
ultim- farthest ultimate
un- one unicorn, unicycle
urb- city suburban, urban,
ut-, us- use use, utility
vad-, vas- go evade, pervasive
vag- wander vagabond
ven-, vent- come circumvent, convention
ver- true, truth aver, veracious, verify, verisimilitude, verity
vi- way via, deviate
vid-, vis- see visual, vivid, video
vinc-, vict- conquer victory, victor
vit- life vital
viv- live vivid, survive
voc- voice vocal, invocation,

Origins of April Fools Day

Posted on 01. Apr, 2014 by in Latin Language, Roman culture

April Fool’s Day comes around each year and with it jokes, hoaxes, and elaborate “breaking” news articles. These “jokes”  spam our email, social media outlets, and lives from the moment we wake till the end of our day. At times, they can be humorous or playful (like Google’s Pokémon Challenge; here), they can be misleading (Boudicca’s grave, Robin Hood’s bones; here), or even cruel (death and alarming hoaxes; here).

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April Fool’s Day is the one day of the year where boundaries of societal norms can be transgress; whether it be a ridiculous news article or the elaborate hoaxes. These jokes which would not normally be “accepted” on any other day; however, on April Fool’s Day they are received with open arms and laughing spirits. The first day of April allows all people no matter how popular or unpopular, wealthy or poor, young or old( and so on) a chance to create jokes, pranks, and hoaxes to surprise, scare, or even trick their neighbors and friends.


The history of April Fool’s Day from antiquity to today has changed quite drastically. However, this notion of transgressing boundaries permeates through all the holiday’s transformations and alterations. From the transgressions of male and female, divine and mortal, life and death, low class and high class, religious piety and impiety, and so on are seen within this history’s formation and evolution. How society and people choose to step beyond these boundaries or straddle between them. It is an interesting holiday that is worthy of investigation.

So what boundaries will you cross today?


April Fool’s Day and Feast of Fools

It is thought that April Fool’s Day is the result of the Ancient Roman festival Hilaria and the Medieval festival known as the Feast of Fools. The Feast of Fools, also known as festum fatuorum,( feast of fools) festum stultorum (feast of the silly or simple), was celebrated during the months of December or January. The Medieval festival,  Feast of Fools, finds its roots within the Roman festival known as Saturnalia. You can learn more about the Saturnalia here. So like the Saturnalia, the Feast of Fool sought to overturn the societal norms of status and class.

The Fight Between Carnival and Lent by Pieter Bruegel.

The Fight Between Carnival and Lent by Pieter Bruegel.

Feast of Fools and the Church

In the festival, young people would chose to play a mock pope, archbishop, bishop, or abbot to reign as Lord of Misrule.  Participants of the festival would then “consecrate” him with many ridiculous ceremonies in the nearest main church, giving names such as Archbishop of Dolts, Abbot of Unreason, or Pope of Fools.  This consecration ceremony often mocked the performance of the highest offices of the church. While other participants dressed a sundry of masks and disguises, engaged in songs and dances and practiced all manner of revelry within the church building. The Feast of Fools was eventually discontinued and forbidden 1431 for its blasphemous manner.

 April Fool’s Day and Hilaria

The ancient festival known as Hilaria (Latin for cheerful, merry, joyful) was celebrated on the vernal (spring) equinox in honor of the goddess Cybele. The goddess Cybele has a long and extended history from Anatolia to Rome.

Cybele enthroned, with lion, cornucopia and Mural crown. Roman marble, c. 50 CE. Getty Museum

Cybele enthroned, with lion, cornucopia and Mural crown. Roman marble, c. 50 CE. Getty Museum

The Romans celebrated Hilaria, as a feria stativa (a set free day [i.e no work]), on March 25 in honor of Cybele, the mother of the gods. The days of the festival were devoted to general rejoicings and public sacrifices (hence its name), and no one was allowed to show any symptoms of grief or sorrow( unless it was the “Day of Mourning”).

According to the historian Herodian, there was a procession and a statue of the goddess was carried. Before this statue, the most costly works of art belonging either to wealthy Romans or to the emperors themselves proceeded. All kinds of games and amusements were allowed on this day; masquerades were the most prominent among them, and everyone might, in his disguise, imitate whomsoever he liked, and even magistrates.

The Myth of Cybele and Attis

The myth of Cybele and Attis is one of tragic love. It is also a story of self-mutilation and regeneration, which is reflected in the Hilaria festival’s schedule and activities.

Cybele and Attis (seated right, with Phrygian cap and shepherd's crook) in a chariot drawn by four lions, surrounded by dancing Corybantes.

Cybele and Attis (seated right, with Phrygian cap and shepherd’s crook) in a chariot drawn by four lions, surrounded by dancing Corybantes.

Cybele rejected Zeus’ advances; he would not take her answer of “No.” On night as Cybele slept, Zeus spilled his seed on her. Eventually, Cybele gave birth to Agdistis, a hermaphroditic deity so strong and wild that the other gods feared him. In their terror they cut off his male sexual organ and from this blood sprang an almond tree.

The river Sangarius’ daughter named Nana ate the fruit of the almond tree. As a result of this snack, Nana delivered a boy child 9 months later. Nana decided to expose the child; much like Oedipus. But the infant’s death was not fated. Instead, reared by shepherds, the boy soon became healthy and handsome. He, in fact, became so handsome that his grandmother, Cybele, fell in love with him.

The boy, named Attis, was unaware of the love Cybele bore him. But since she was a goddess, Attis dare not refuse her. In time, Attis fell in love with another. It was the daughter of the king of  Pessinus, and he wished to marry her. The goddess Cybele became insanely jealous and drove Attis mad for revenge. Running crazily throughout the mountains, Attis finally stopped at the foot of a pine tree (hence why the tree is used in the festival). There Attis castrated and killed himself; and from Attis’ blood sprang the first violets. The tree took care of Attis’ spirit, but Attis’ flesh was a different story. Cybele unable to save him called out to Zeus for help. Attis’ body would have decayed had not Zeus stepped in to assist Cybele in the resurrection of Attis.

Schedule of the Festival of Hilaria

The activities of Hilaria were ones of both celebration, death, mourning, rebirth and celebration. This is due to the fact that the spring equinox was the first day of the year in which the length of night and day were equal. It was by this marker that a “New Year” was set and in which the winter was official gone and the rebirth of the year occurred. This is why Hilaria is considered a Death and Rebirth festival and coincides with the goddess Cybele and Attis.

The Full Festival’s Schedule (courtesy of Wikipedia)

  • March 15 (Ides): Canna intrat (“The Reed Enters”), marking the birth of Attis and his exposure in the reeds along the Phrygian river Sangarius where he was discovered—depending on the version—by either shepherds or Cybele herself.The reed was gathered and carried by the cannophores (“Reed-bearers”).
  • March 22: Arbor intrat (“The Tree Enters”), commemorating the death of Attis under a pine tree. The dendrophores (“tree bearers”) cut down a tree,suspended from it an image of Attis, and carried it to the temple with lamentations.  A three-day period of mourning followed.
  • March 23: On the Tubilustrium, an archaic holiday to Mars (Greek Ares), the pine tree was laid to rest at the temple of the Magna Mater (or Cybele), with the traditional beating of the shields by Mars’ priests the Salii and the lustration of the trumpets perhaps assimilated to the noisy music of the Corybantes.
  • March 24: Sanguem or Dies Sanguinis (“Day of Blood”), a frenzy of mourning when the devotees whipped themselves to sprinkle the altars and effigy of Attis with their own blood; some performed the self-castrations of the Galli. The “sacred night” followed, with Attis placed in his ritual tomb.
  • March 25 (the spring equinox on the Roman calendar): Hilaria (“Rejoicing”), when Attis was reborn.
  • March 26: Requietio (“Day of Rest”).
  • March 27: Lavatio (“Washing”), noted by the poet Ovid and probably an innovation under Augustus,when Cybele’s sacred stone was taken in procession from the Palatine temple to the Porta Capena and down the Appian Way to the stream called Almo, a tribute to the Tiber River. There the stone and sacred iron implements were bathed “in the Phrygian manner” by a red-robed priest. The return trip was made by torchlight, with much rejoicing.
  • March 28: Initium Caiani, sometimes interpreted as initiations into the mysteries of the Magna Mater and Attis at the Gaianum, near the Phrygianum sanctuary at the Vatican Hill.


Well, thanks for reading! I hope it was worth your time and you learned something new. Now, I am wishing you all a safe and happy April Fool’s Day!

10 Similarities Between Star Trek and Ancient Rome

Posted on 18. Mar, 2014 by in Latin Language, Roman culture

Whilst trying to decide what to write for this week’s article, I was torn by many different avenues that inspire me. I am personally an avid fan of gender studies and societal transgressions, but these topics seemed a bit…heavy for this week. So, if you are by chance excited to see a blog on gender studies; please look forward to next week’s article on “Ancient Women in Modern Film.”

However, for this week I am interested to examine Star Trek and the depths within it that are of the Classical Tradition.  By “Classical Tradition,” I mean to show the degrees in which this science fiction world has drawn from antiquity to create a universe that has a large and loyal fan base.

Let’s start off with the most obvious.

1. Romulus and Remus

Capitoline Wolf suckles the infant twins Romulus and Remus.

Capitoline Wolf suckles the infant twins Romulus and Remus.

In Roman mythology, they are the twin sons of Mars and Rhea. Romulus is fated to find Rome (which is hence named after him), while Remus is destined to be killed at the hand of his brother.

In Star Trek mythology, Romulus and Remus were “twin planets” which revolved around the same star. However, their inhabitants and terrain were polar opposites. Romulans were related to Vulcans and came from a planet very similar to Earth or Vulcan (Class M planet); while Remus was a harsh planet whose inhabitants were considered of a lower class.

2. Vulcan

Courtesy of the page below and Tom Allred.

Courtesy of the page below and Tom Allred.

In Roman mythology, Vulcan was another name for the god Hephaestus. He was the god of crafting, blacksmithing, and even volcanoes.

In Star Trek mythology, Vulcans came from a planet, Vulcan, which was full of volcanoes. Vulcans were known for being skilled with crafting and creating new technology. One writer touches upon the subject very nicely (here).

3. Planet Names [which do not have connecting features between the name and terrain/inhabitants]

Many of the planet names in Star Trek derive from mythological characters or beings; these include (but are not limited to)

-Nausicaa, Cerberus, Gaia, Isis III, Janus VI, Kronos, Minos, Oceanus IV, Persephone V, Pollux IV, Sarpedion V,…

4. Orion(s)


In Roman mythology, he was a skilled hunter and friend of Artemis. But when Artemis felt herself tempted by his prowess she sent a giant scorpion to kill him. Thus the constellations Orion and Scorpio were formed.

In Star Trek mythology, Orion was a planet. It inhabitants were known as Orions and were a race of green (or blue) skinned humanoids. They were an animalistic and primal race in which the women used the men as slaves. (This is somewhat reminiscent of the mythical Amazons and mirror Artemis’ nature more so than Orions.)


5. Magna Roma

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In Roman mythology, this was the Latin phrase for “Great Rome.” It referred to both the city of Rome and the female entity that was consider Rome.

In Star Trek mythology, it was the name of a planet (or 892-IV) that is visited in the episode “Bread and Circuses.” The planet is almost identical to Earth and therefore referred to as a” parallel planet.” It was classified as a parallel planet, because it showed what Earth may have become if the Roman Empire had not fallen. The presence of gladiatorial game, slaves, the Senate, and even the Praetorian Guard were present in the 23rd century.

6. Klingons

In accordance to ancient history, the Klingons seem to mimic the famous Spartans and their militaristic society. One argument (although weak) attributes the Klingon name to the ancient Greek κλίνω (kiln-o) [Latin form inclinare] meaning “to incline, to bend, to lean, to turn” (perhaps in reference to the Klingon forehead), but κλίνω can also have the meaning “to turn the ride of war.” Both meanings would serve the Klingons accurately.

You have seen the film 300, but have you heard of 300 Klingons? Watch on…

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7. & 8. Jean Luc Picard and The Federation

Jean Luc Picard is as captain of the starship Enterprise is criticized by his mentor/father figure that:

“You’re like a Roman centurion off patrolling the provinces — the maintenance of a dull and bloated Empire.”

The parallel to the captain as a centurion, the planets as provinces, and the Federation to the Roman Empire is often eluded to, but not often stated in the Star Trek series. This lines offers to its audience a chance to meld antiquity and historic references to science fiction ones in a direct manner (which is not often seen).

*Fun Fact: Patrick Stewart, who plays Jean Luc Picard, actually plays a centurion in I, Claudius.

9. James Tiberius Kirk and Nero

In the recent Star Trek franchise, the 2009 film Star Trek, an alternative reality is created and affects all the character’s lives. It is ironic that our hero James Tiberius Kirk would be born and shortly afterwards the villain Nero makes his appearance. What I am attempting to hit on here are the names: Tiberius and Nero.

In history, Tiberius was an ancient Roman emperor and was often known for his lewd and lusty behavior, but he was also known for making spectacles of himself. While Nero was to be the second emperor after him and brought destruction and chaos. Is there perhaps a bit of mirroring with these Star Trek characters and the emperors? It is interesting that Roman emperor’s names would be used so freely in a science fiction series.

10. Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges


“Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges” is the name of an episode of Star Trek (Deep Space 9 to be exact), which employs a Latin title. The title is actually a quote from the ancient Roman orator Cicero meaning ” In time of wars; the law falls silent.” The title and quote are actually used to justify a questionable tactic to which one person asks “”Is that what we have become? A 24th-century Rome?” The question rings clear in both its parallelism and its indications of the Romulan Empire and the Roman Empire.


There is a clear and distinctive portrayal of antiquity with Star Trek. Whether it be through mythology, historical people, quotes, or epics, Star Trek makes good use of the wealth of information from antiquity. While some references may simply be in the form of a planet’s name or a vessel name, other times the parallel between the historical or mythological and the science fiction are clear. It is important to observe these similarities, because it further emphasizes the influence antiquity still has on modern day audiences. It shows how ancient ideals and mores are still used today to explore a story’s message. The Classical Tradition is not dead, but in fact far from it. It would seem that science fiction is the new frontier for antiquity to be employed and make its outreach.


There have been several episodes that have had an ancient theme to them such as:

Bread and Circuses; read on it (here).

Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges; read on it  (here).

Plato’s Stepchildren; read on it  (here)

Who Mourns for Adonis?; read on it  (here)

Side of Paradise; read on it  (here)

You can watch most of these on a Netflix or Hulu subscribe Account.