Learn Greek and Latin Roots
Did you know that many biology words we use are derived from Greek and Latin Root Words?
In these ancient language systems, each word consisted of a root word and affixes. The root word is the main part of the word and can stand alone. Affixes qualify the root word and may be prefixes or suffixes. Prefixes come before the word and suffixes after.
Each part of the word contributes to its meaning. So, if you know the common root words, it is very easy to split up the scientific term into its component parts and figure out its meaning. This is called Structural Analysis.
This List of Greek and Latin Root Words will help you to decipher the meaning of new biology vocabulary, even without the use of a dictionary.
So here's an example:
acro = summit,top
soma = body
So we are able to reason that the acrosome is a body that is found at the top or summit.
Now, greek and latin root words could be be life-saving if you are in the middle of a multiple choice exam and staring at diagram of the sperm cell - labeled with letters only.
Which structure represents the acrosome?
Easy! The structure that is at the top, or foremost would be the acrosome!
So you select
Even you were not answering multiple choice questions, structural analysis would help 'jog your memory' and you would most likely be able to define the acrosme as
the organelle located on the anterior portion of the sperm, containing lytic enzymes involved in penetration of the ovum during fertilization.
Here are other examples:
adipo = fathepato = liver
erythr = red
cyte = cell
Can you guess what the following words mean?
Learning the Greek and Latin Root Words, as well and the affixes is pretty useful. However, the technique of Structural Analysis should never replace your use of your biology dictionary or glossary. The definition includes more and precise information. Take a look at the video below which shows how prefixes, suffixes and roots are used: