Table 1.10 Roots, Prefixes and Suffixes in Physics - From the Sourcebook for Teaching Science
acceler faster - accelerate, accelerometer, angular acceleration, centripetal acceleration
To accelerate is to go progressively faster.
aero air - aerodynamics, aeronautics, aerosol, aeroballistics
Aerodynamics studies the properties of moving air and the forces it exerts.
alter other - alternating current, alternator, alternate interior angle, alterable
An alternating current switches from one polarity to the other.
anti against, opposite - antiquark, antimatter, antiparticle, antilogarithm
The antiquark is an opposite, or antiparticle, to the quark.
astr, aster star - astronomy, asteroid, astrophysics, astronaut, astronomical
Astronomy is the study of the stars.
avi bird, flight - avionics, aviation, circumnavigation
Avionics are the electronics that control flight in airplanes.
calor heat - calorie, caloric, calorimeter, kilocalorie
A calorie is the amount of heat to raise one gram of water, one degree Celsisus.
capac amount - capacitor, capacity, capacitance
A capacitor stores an amount of charge.
centr center - centripetal, concentric, centrifugal, eccentric
Centripetal acceleration is always towards the center.
circ ring, around - circuit, circumference, integrated circuit, short circuit
An electrical circuit is a closed ring or path.
co, com together - condensation, compression, conduction, convection, collinear
Molecules come together during condensation.
counter against, opposite - counter force, counterflow, counterbalance, countercurrent
A counter force opposes another force.
cosm universe - cosmology, cosmos, cosmonaut, cosmic rays
Cosmology is the study of the universe.
cur, curs run, flow - current, recur, occur, cursor, precursor
Current is the flow of electricity or fluid.
de down, without - depolarize, decelerate, detach, declination, deduce
A depolarized surface is without charge.
di, dia across - diameter, dielectric, diagnoal, diagram, diamagnetic
The diameter is the distance across an object.
dec tenth - decibel, decimal, decimeter, decade
A decibel has the sound intensity of one tenth of a bel.
duc, -t to lead, carry - transducer, conduct, deduct, induce, induce, deduce
A transducer carries energy from one system to another.
dyn power, force - dyne, dynamometer, dynamic, dynamite, dynamo, aerodynamics, hydrodynamics
A dyne is a unit of force.
electr electricity - electrode, electricity, electromotive force, electronics, dielectric, electron, electroscope
An electrode is a conductor through which electricity enters or leaves an object.
empir experience - empirical, empiricist, unempirical
An empirical study is based on experience and observation.
erg work - energy, erg, kinetic energy, potential energy, energetics
Energy is the capacity to do work.
fin end, finish, boundary - finite, final, finish, confine, infinite, define, definite
A finite object has boundaries.
flect, flex to bend - reflection, flexible, deflect, reflect
Reflected rays bend away from the reflecting surface.
flu flow - flux, fluids, fluctuate, influx, reflux, magnetic flux
Flux is the flow of radiant or magnetic energy.
fract break, broken - refraction, diffraction, fraction, fracture, refractive
Refracted rays appear broken.
fus melt, join - fusion, fuse, fusion bomb, nuclear fusion, fusible, heat of fusion
During nuclear fusion, nuclei join together.
grav heavy, weighty - gravity, gravitational, microgravity, graviton
The greater the gravity, the heavier an object is.
gyr circle, rotation - gyroscope, gyration, gyrostabilizer, gyrocompass
Gyroscopes are stablized by rotational inertia.
infra beneath, lower - infrared, infrastructure, near-infrared, infrasonic
Infrared light has lower energy than red light.
inter between - interference, interferometry, Internet, intersect, interpolate
Interference patterns form due to the interaction between waves
-ion process - fusion, revolution, extension, compression, fission
Nuclear fusion is the process in which two hydrogen atoms fuse into one helium atom.
-ist one who studies - physicist, astrophysicist, empiricist, cosmologist
A physicist is one who studies physics.
ject to throw - trajectory, reject, eject, project, projectile
The path of a thrown object is its trajectory.
kilo thousand - kilopascal, kilogram, kilometer, kilojoule, kilohertz, kilovolt, kiloton, kilowatt
A kilopascal has one thousand times the pressure of a pascal.
kine motion - kinetic energy, kinetics, hydrokinetics, kinetic friction
Kinetic energy is the energy of motion.
lu, lum light - luminescence, translucent, luster, luminosity, luminous, lux, lumen
Luminescence is the emission of light from an unheated object.
mega great, million - megahertz, megabyte, megawatt, megavolt, megaton, megajoule
A megahertz wave oscillates at one million times the frequency of a one hertz wave.
meter measure - ammeter, meter, barometer, thermometer, metric system, interferometer
An ammeter measures electric current in amps.
micro small, one millionth - microwave, micrometer, microgram, micron, microfarad, microprocessor
Microwaves are smaller (shorter wavelength) than normal radio waves.
milli thousandth - millisecond, millivolt, millirem, milliamp, milliwatt
A millisecond is one thousandth of a second.
min small - minor, minuscule, minute, minimum, minority
Minor forces are smaller than major forces.
mit, miss to send - transmit, emit, emission, transmission, missile
Transmitting antennas send radio signals.
mot, mov move - locomotion, electromotive force (emf), motion, motility, movement
Electromotive force is the difference in potential that moves electrons and creates a current.
multi many - multiply, multiplex, multistage, multitude, multiple star
Multiplexing allows for simultaneous transmission of many messages through one medium.
nano billionth - nanosecond, nanotechnology, nanogram, nanoscale
A nanogram is one-billionth of a gram.
numer number - numeral, numeration, enumerate, innumerable, numerator, numerous
To enumerate is to determine the number of something.
-on unit - photon, elecrtron, proton, lepton, baryon, fermion, boson
Photons are the smallest units of light.
pel, puls drive, push - propulsion, expel, repel, pulse, impulse, pulsate, repulsion, propel
Rockets must have propulsion to push forward.
pend, pens hang, weigh - pendulum, suspend, pending, suspension, pendant
A pendulum is a swinging, hanging weight.
photo light - photon, photoelectric effect, photoemission, photoluminescence
A photon is a particle of light with zero rest mass.
phys body/nature - physics, physical science, Newtonian physics, particle physics, geophysics, astrophysics
Physics is the study of the nature of matter and energy.
polar end of axis - polar, dipole, polarization, polarized, polarity, polar coordinates, monopole
Polar molecules have positive and negative ends.
pot power - electrical potential, potential energy, potentiometer, potential difference, action potential
Potential energy is the power to perform work.
prim first - primary coil, primary colors, primary pigments, prime
A magnetic field forms first in the primary coil before a current is induced in the secondary coil.
pro before, positive - proton, progress, projectile, propel
Protons carry a positive charge.
radi, ray ray, radius - radioactive, radius, ray, radiant, radiate, irradiate, X-ray, radiator, radiation
Rays of radiation emanate from radioactive sources.
re back, again - reflect, reactance, rebound, react, reflection, refraction, resonance
Reflected light bounces back towards the source.
rect straight - rectifier, rectify, direct current, erect, directrix
A rectifier changes or "straightens" an AC current in to a DC current.
scop see, watch - spectroscope, telescope, oscilloscope, microscopic, galvanoscope
Spectroscopes allow physicists to see and analyze the spectrum of light.
sign sign, mark - signal, signature, design, significant, designate
Radio signals are used to mark a satellite's position.
sim same, like - simulation, similar, assimilate, simulate, simultaneous
Good physics simulations behave like the pheonomena they model.
son sound - ultrasonic, sonic, sonar, resonate, unison, ultrasound, resonance
Ultrasonic waves have a frequency higher than sound waves.
stat stay, position - stationary, static electricity, statics, station, thermostat, rheostat
Thermostats insure that temperatures remain in the same range.
sub under, below - subscript, subsonic, submerge, subscript, subtend, subtract, subzero
Subscripts are placed below the line (e.g. v1 or v2).
super above, over - superposition, superpose, superimpose, superheat, superior, supersonic
Superposition is the adding of one wave over another to determine the final pattern.
therm heat - thermodynamics, therm, thermoelectric, thermocouple, thermonuclear, thermistor
Thermodynamics is the science of heat energy.
tort, tors twist - torque, torsion, distort, contort, torque converter, torsion balance
Torque can be described as a twisting force.
tract to draw or drag - abstract, attract, traction, extract, retract, subtract, contract, extract, protractor
Abstract ideas may be drawn from careful observations.
trans across - transmitter, transducer, transformer, transceiver, transistor, translucent, transmission
Radio transmitters send messages across long distances.
ultra beyond - ultraviolet, ultrasound, ultrahigh frequency (UHF), ultrahigh vacuum
Ultraviolet radiation has a frequency beyond violet radiation.
uni one, same - uniform, unit, unify, universal, universe
Uniform techniques are employed to keep controls the same.
vect to carry - vector, convection, convect, advection, vector product
Heat and smoke are carried away from a fire by convection.