An Easy Way to Learn GRE Test Words – Learn Them through Roots

Word RootsStarting this week, we are introducing a new feature that will help all you students who are struggling to prepare for the GRE test – posts that will help you learn the GRE test words using roots. Though the technical meaning of ‘roots’ is a little different, here it is useful to think of them as the original Latin and Greek words that the English words came from.

Learning words through their roots is useful in two ways – firstly, knowing the root and meaning of a word can help you understand why the word means what it means. Secondly, since there are often many words which come from the same Greek or Latin root, this helps you to learn several words at one time. It becomes easier because, as you will seen in today’s post, words from the same root look similar and also share a common set of meanings. The two lists below, which cover 32 words totally, will illustrate how this is so.

1. currere (Latin, 14 words)

The Latin word currere (to run) produces many English words:

  1. cursive – flowing, running e.g. writing in cursive hand
  2. cursor – runner e.g. the cursor runs across your computer screen
  3. cursory – running, swift, fast e.g. he merely gave the documents a cursory glance
  4. precursor – one who runs before (prae), forerunner e.g. features in a prototype are precursors of the features in the final product
  5. courier – messenger: this word comes through French, hence the strange form – the idea is that the courier, which is a swift delivery service, takes the document and runs e.g. delivery by courier will take only three days
  6. concurrent – running with (con), hence, happening at the same time) e.g. I couldn’t attend all the sessions in the conference that I wanted to since some were concurrent
  7. concur – run with (com), hence, agree e.g. most of the committee members concur with the Chairman’s ideas
  8. succor – run up to (sub), hence, run to help, aid, assist, comfort e.g. we must succor those weaker and poorer than us
  9. discourse – a running about (dis), hence, a talk that ranges over a subject, a formal discussion, conversation­ e.g. Kejriwal’s discourses on corruption
  10. discursive – running aside or about (dis), digressing, rambling e.g. his discursive essays take a long time to get to the point
  11. incur – run into (in), hence, bring upon oneself e.g. the company may refuse to reimburse them for the expenses they incur
  12. incursion – a running into, hence, an invasion e.g. Arab incursions onto Byzantine territory were permanently stopped by 872 A.D.
  13. recourse – a running back (re), hence, resorting to help when in trouble e.g. we would like to settle matters without recourse to the law
  14. recurrent – occurring again and again (re) e.g. I had recurrent problems with my computer which only stopped when I formatted the hard disk


2. vertere (Latin, 28 words)

The Latin word vertere, to turn produces a large number of English words:

  1. vertex – turning point, hence, highest point, summit e.g. the angel in each vertex of this triangle is acute
  2. vortex – turning, whirlwind, whirlpool, center of turbulence, predicament into which one is inexorably plunged e.g. the ship was sucked into the vortex
  3. vertigo – turning round, hence, severe dizziness) e.g. looking down from a cliff, one may experience vertigo
  4. introvert – one who is turned inward (intro), hence, introspective, inclined to contemplation e.g. he was an introvert who rarely mixed with his classmate
  5. extrovert – turned outwards (extro), hence, person interested mostly in external objects and actions e.g. she is an extrovert whose favourite pastime is spending time with her friends
  6. diversion – act of turning aside (di), pastime e.g. in the long winter breaks playing cards was our only diversion
  7. diverse – turning aside (di), hence, differing in some characteristics, various e.g. in cities like Mumbai, you will find people from diverse backgrounds
  8. diversity – a turning aside (di) in various directions, hence, variety, dissimilitude this reef contains an astonishing diversity of life forms
  9. universal – from universus, turned into one; hence, characterizing or affecting all; present everywhere e.g. laughter is a universal human characteristics
  10. avert – turn something away (a ab), hence, prevent, turn away e.g. we must take timely action to avert a tragedy
  11. aversion – a turning away (a ab), hence, firm dislike e.g. his aversion for exercise has taken a toll on his health
  12. averse – turned away from (a ab), hence, reluctant; disinclined e.g. most people are averse to talking of death
  13. traverse – go through or across (trans, with loss of ‘ns’) e.g. the ridge is too steep to traverse
  14. convert (one who has turned with (con) another, hence, one who has adopted a different religion or opinion e.g. the system makes it easier to convert units of one system into units of another
  15. adverse – turned against (ad), hence, unfavorable, hostile e.g. their success was noteworthy since they succeeded despite adverse conditions
  16. adversity – a turning against (ad), that which turns against one, hence, poverty, misfortune e.g. having faced adversity before, he was not afraid to face it again
  17. adversary – one who turns against you, hence, opponent, enemy e.g. he defeated his adversary using skill rather than strength
  18. invert – turn upside down (in) or inside out (in) e.g. the marble will fall out when you invert the glass
  19. inverse – turned about (in), hence, reversed, opposite our eyes produce an image that is inverse to the object in the real world
  20. converse – turned about (con), hence, opposite e.g. it is true that children depend on parents in their early years, but as time goes on the converse is true
  21. controvert – to turn against (contro), hence, oppose with arguments, attempt to refute, contradict e.g. you cannot controvert facts, but you can controvert theories.
  22. incontrovertible – contraversus, turned against (contra), with addition of negative prefix in, hence, indisputable, not open to question e.g. his arguments were incontrovertible
  23. advert – turn towards (ad), refer to (ad) e.g. in discussion of economic policy, the participants often advert to political facts – it is difficult to frame economic policy without reference to political realities
  24. inadavertently – advertent, turning towards (ad), with addition of negative prefix in, hence, unintentionally, by oversight, carelessly e.g. he inadvertently knocked over the glass vase and broke it
  25. revert – turn back (re), relapse, backslide, turn back to e.g. though it exists as a vapor at high temperatures it will revert to its liquid from at lower ones
  26. perverse – turned away (per), hence, stubbornly wrongheaded, wicked, unacceptable e.g. he had been warned against walking near the edge of the cliff; his fall was the result of a perverse disregard for the warnings
  27. perversion – a turning away (per), hence, turning from right to wrong, corruption e.g. dictatorship is a perversion of the idea that people should submit to authority – it replaces ‘should’ with ‘must’ and make obedience an inescapable requirement instead of a voluntary submission
  28. subversive – turning beneath (sub), hence, tending to overthrow, destructive e.g. the police found subversive literature calling for a rebellion against the authorities.

Hope you found this helpful – roots are a great way of preparing for the GRE test words. If you did here’s a link to our next post on roots click to see next post.