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Science Root Words

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson explores many examples of the even larger amount of root words used throughout science, from biology to astronomy to medicine and much more.

Scientific Jargon

Hypermagnesemia, ichthyology, and bullous pemphigoid. Those are all scientific words that are as difficult to read as they are to spell and sound out. But the trick to a lot of scientific words isn't their rote memorization. If you know their various Greek and Latin root words, you are well on your way to understanding the meaning of the word without having to look it up in a dictionary.

There are literally hundreds of these roots words. This lesson focuses on just some of them to give you an idea of how they can help you understand a complex term.

Root Words A-K

Your hip bone, the femur, has a 'head' that sort of looks like a ball. This ball fits into the cup of the pelvis, called the acetabulum. Acetabul refers to a cup of sorts and comes to us from Latin.

People with alopecia have some form of hair loss. Alopec comes to us from the Greek for mange in foxes. Mange is a disorder that results in various forms of hair loss as a result of microscopic mites.

People with slow heart rhythms have bradycardia, where brady refers to something that is slow. Usually, we mean not just slow, but abnormally slow.

Those of you who love dogs love canines. The word canine is partially derived from cani(s), which refers to a dog. Dogs have a lot of sharp teeth, and the root word for teeth is dent, as per dentures. If that dog were to bite you and you were to bleed, then a lot of red blood cells, or erythrocytes, would escape your body. Erythr means red. If you were to lose enough blood, you'd become flaccid, or limp and flabby. Flacc means flabby.

Some people have flabby stomachs. Of course, it's not their actual stomach, just the fat around the abdominal area that's flabby. The stomach has a root word of gastr, as per gastric ulcer. A gastric ulcer is a bloody sore in the stomach. Blood has a root word of hem, as in hemophilia.

Other than the stomach, another part of your digestive tract is the ileum, a part of the small intestine. If you were to see the ileum in real life, it'd be all twisted up in loops of sorts inside your abdomen. Not surprisingly, ileum is also a root word, and it means twisted.

In biology, you'll also read the word junction a lot; this word comes from junc, which means to bind or join something together. And if you were to join one thousand meters together in series, you'd have a kilometer, where kilo means one thousand.

Root Words L-Z

Those of you who are lactose intolerant are intolerant to milk because lact means milk. And where does milk come from, the mammary glands or the nucha? The mammary glands because mamma means breast while nuch refers to the back of the neck.

As you know, that milk is meant for a baby of one animal or another. Where do babies come from? The fusion of a sperm and an egg. Egg has a root word of oo, as in oocyte. Many babies love the taste of Prunus persica. Not sure what that is? Here's a hint: persic means peach.

Peaches have this orange-red color, and the root word for red in science is rhodo, like a rhododendron. While the color of a peach is really nice and all, it's really the sweet, sugary taste that babies love. Sugar has a root word of sacchar, as in saccharine.

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