Physics Roots

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.