By Rod Powers

Knowing root words can help you on the ASVAB. Root words are word parts that serve as the base of a word. In English, one root word can be changed slightly to perform all sorts of roles — it can act as a noun, a verb, an adjective, or an adverb with just a little modification.

If you recognize a root, you can generally get an idea of what the word means, even if you’re not familiar with it. For example, if you know what the root word attach means, you can figure out what the word attachment means. If you know adherent, you can deduce what adherence means.

Here are some common roots. Memorize them. When you sit down to take the ASVAB, you’ll be glad you did.

Root Meaning Sample Word
anthro or anthrop relating to humans anthropology
bibl relating to books bibliography
brev short abbreviate
cede or ceed go, yield recede
chrom color monochrome
cogn know cognizant
corp body corporate
dict speak diction
domin rule dominate
flu or fluc flow influx
form shape formulate
fract or frag break fragment
graph writing biography
junct join juncture
liber free liberate
lum or lumen light illuminate
oper work cooperate
path or pathy suffer, feeling pathology
port carry portable
press squeeze repress
scrib or script write describe
sens or sent feel sentient
tract pull traction
voc or vok call revoke

When you see an unfamiliar word, try dropping a couple of letters from the beginning and/or the end of the word to see whether you recognize what’s left — the root. If so, you can make a good guess about the meaning of the word.