Etymology
The study of word origins
Where do the words we use come from?
• English is a blend of words from many other languages
• These words made their way into the English language in many
ways
o Occupation by other countries/cultures
o English occupation of other countries/cultures
o Brought by immigrants
o Cultural trends and fashions
The English language is always changing!
Greek and Latin have had the
biggest influence on English.
This influence started thousands
of years ago…
The Mediterranean Sea
Med = middle
Terr = land
The Mediterranean Sea
is in the middle of the
land where western
cultures developed.
The earliest western
cultures were Greek
and Roman.
Greek Language
The first western written language.
477 BC –
149 BC
Alexander the
Great was the
Greek leader
responsible for
the spread of the
Greek Empire.
The Greeks had an empire that included
the lands bordering the eastern
Mediterranean Sea, Persia, and Egypt.
The Greek language and culture spread
throughout this region.
Roman Influence
Latin was the language spoken in ancient Rome.
When the Romans conquered territories—
including most of Europe—they brought their
language to those territories. That is why
there are so many words in our language that
have Latin roots.
The Roman Empire
Rome
117 AD
The Romance Languages
LATIN (Ancient Rome)
Italian
French
Spanish
Portuguese
The Roman Empire
44 BC –
476 AD
Britain
Rome
Greece
How Latin words got into English Language
The Roman Empire
expanded into
Britain, bringing Latin
Latin words found
their way into the
Anglo-Saxon language
of the people in
Ancient Britain
How Latin words got into English Language
The Roman Empire
expanded into
Britain, bringing Latin
For Example:
Latin word
“stratum”
means
“layered road”
Latin words found
their way into the
Anglo-Saxon language
of the people in
Ancient Britain
How Latin words got into English Language
The Roman Empire
expanded into
Britain, bringing Latin
For Example:
Latin word
“stratum”
means
“layered road”
Latin words found
their way into the
Anglo-Saxon language
of the people in
Ancient Britain
“Stratum”
became “straets”
in Anglo-Saxon
How Latin words got into English Language
The Roman Empire
expanded into
Britain, bringing Latin
For Example:
Latin word
“stratum”
means
“layered road”
Latin words found
their way into the
Anglo-Saxon language
of the people in
Ancient Britain
“Stratum”
became “straets”
in Anglo-Saxon
Now called
“streets” in
modern English
How Latin words got into English Language
The Roman Empire
expanded into
Britain, bringing Latin
For Example:
Latin word
“stratum”
means
“layered road”
Latin words found
their way into the
Anglo-Saxon language
of the people in
Ancient Britain
“Stratum”
became “straets”
in Anglo-Saxon
Now called
“streets” in
modern English
Miles of streets and roads were created.
Mile is from the Latin word mille, which means 1,000.
The Roman mile was measured as 1,000 paces.
The English Language
This is how English as we know it today evolved over
the centuries, influenced by many other European
languages.
European Invasions of Britain
Anglians from the area that is
now the Netherlands invaded
in 550 AD.
Vikings from Scandinavia
invaded in 875 AD.
Finally, the Normans from
northern France invaded in
1066 AD. English language
was banned by the Normans.
All of these invaders brought their languages, which
influenced the English language. These influences can be
traced through etymology.
Influence of the
Catholic Church
1 AD –
1950’s
The Catholic Church
was the official
religion in all of
Europe until the 1500’s.
The official language
of the Catholic Church
was Latin. So, no
matter what country,
all services in the
Catholic Church were
spoken in Latin. All
priests and church
officials spoke Latin.
Renaissance Influence
Renaissance = Rebirth
 During the Renaissance,
educated people in Europe
became interested in Ancient
Greece.
 It was a time of expansion of
knowledge in the areas of
science, medicine, art and
architecture.
 This is how many Greek word
roots made their way into the
English language, especially in
these subject areas.
1400’s1500’s
The Influence Continues Today
Latin continued to
be a universally
understood
language among
the educated of
Europe until the
1800’s.
The Catholic
Church continued
to use Latin until
the 1950’s.
Our language
continues to show
influences from the
Greek language,
especially in the area
of science.
England Becomes the Invader
1600 - 1900
The stars indicate areas that were
once colonies of Britain, and where
English was (and still is) spoken.
Why Should YOU Learn Word Roots?
• You will recognize word chunks in unfamiliar words
and be able to narrow down the possible meaning
of the word
• It will help you with vocabulary in many subject
areas
• You will be better able to pronounce unfamiliar
words
• You will become a better speller
• Since many languages have common roots to Latin
and Greek, it makes learning a foreign language
easier
Some Common Roots
Can you think of words that contain these roots?
ortho = straight
Some Common Roots
Can you think of words that contain these roots?
ortho = straight
dyna = power
Some Common Roots
Can you think of words that contain these roots?
ortho = straight
dyna = power
ann = year
Some Common Roots
Can you think of words that contain these roots?
ortho = straight
orb = circle
dyna = power
ann = year
Some Common Roots
Can you think of words that contain these roots?
ortho = straight
dyna = power
orb = circle
pop = people
ann = year
Some Common Roots
Can you think of words that contain these roots?
ortho = straight
dyna = power
ann = year
orb = circle
pop = people
struct = build
Some Common Roots
Can you think of words that contain these roots?
ortho = straight
dyna = power
ann = year
orb = circle
pop = people
struct = build
terr = land
Some Common Roots
Can you think of words that contain these roots?
ortho = straight
dyna = power
ann = year
orb = circle
pop = people
struct = build
terr = land
alt = high
Some Common Roots
Can you think of words that contain these roots?
ortho = straight
dyna = power
ann = year
orb = circle
pop = people
struct = build
terr = land
alt = high
reg = rule
dom = rule
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Etymology