It's All Greek

Updated June 14, 2023 | Infoplease Staff

The following table lists some common Greek roots, prefixes, and suffixes.

Greek root Basic meaning Example words
-anthrop- human misanthrope, philanthropy, anthropomorphic
-chron- time anachronism, chronic, chronicle, synchronize, chronometer
-dem- people democracy, demography, demagogue, endemic, pandemic
-morph- form amorphous, metamorphic, morphology
-path- feeling, suffering empathy, sympathy, apathy, apathetic, psychopathic
-pedo-, -ped- child, children pediatrician, pedagogue
-philo-, -phil- having a strong affinity or love for philanthropy, philharmonic, philosophy
-phon- sound polyphonic, cacophony, phonetics

The following table gives a list of Greek prefixes and their basic meanings.

Greek prefix Basic meaning Example words
a-, an- without achromatic, amoral, atypical, anaerobic
anti-, ant- opposite; opposing anticrime, antipollution, antacid
auto- self, same autobiography, automatic, autopilot
bio-, bi- life, living organism biology, biophysics, biotechnology, biopsy
geo- Earth; geography geography, geomagnetism, geophysics, geopolitics
hyper- excessive, excessively hyperactive, hypercritical, hypersensitive
micro- small microcosm, micronucleus, microscope
mono- one, single, alone monochrome, monosyllable, monoxide
neo- new, recent neonatal, neophyte, neoconservatism, neofascism, neodymium
pan- all panorama, panchromatic, pandemic, pantheism
thermo-, therm- heat thermal, thermometer, thermostat

Words and word roots may also combine with suffixes. Here are examples of some important English suffixes that come from Greek:

Greek suffix Basic meaning Example words
-ism forms nouns and means “the act, state, or theory of” criticism, optimism, capitalism
-ist forms agent nouns from verbs ending in -ize or nouns ending in -ism and is used like -er conformist, copyist, cyclist
-ize forms verbs from nouns and adjectives formalize, jeopardize, legalize, modernize, emphasize, hospitalize, industrialize, computerize
-gram something written or drawn, a record cardiogram, telegram
-graph something written or drawn; an instrument for writing, drawing, or recording monograph, phonograph, seismograph
-logue, -log speech, discourse; to speak monologue, dialogue, travelogue
-logy discourse, expression; science, theory, study phraseology, biology, dermatology
-meter, -metry measuring device; measure spectrometer, geometry, kilometer, parameter, perimeter
-oid forms adjectives and nouns and means “like, resembling” or “shape, form” humanoid, spheroid, trapezoid
-phile one that loves or has a strong affinity for; loving audiophile, Francophile
-phobe, -phobia one that fears a specified thing; an intense fear of a specified thing agoraphobe, agoraphobia, xenophobe, xenophobia
-phone sound; device that receives or emits sound; speaker of a language homophone, geophone, telephone, Francophone


Latin and Greek Word Elements


Latin and Greek Word Elements
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