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The Latin Prefix AD:
Teach Compound Vocabulary Words

Put the Latin prefix AD in your vocabulary lesson plans. Not only will your students build vocabulary now, they will gain skills in interpreting the meaning of words that will last a lifetime of learning.

Latin Word of the Week (February 28, 2009):


To, Toward

The prefix AD, which in Latin means to or toward, occurs in literally hundreds of common English words. In many of those words it retains the spelling AD, in many others the D assimilates to the first letter of the root word.

For example, the word assimilate which I just used. When AD meets the S of the Latin root similis, the D changes to S. And so the double consonant in our English word meaning to make similar to.

Here are a few common English derivatives in which the D does not change.

  • advertisement (n): something which turns your attention to or toward a product. (See vertere, meaning to turn).
  • administer (v): to minister to, manage, make use of.
  • admire (v): to wonder at, to regard with wonder. This is AD + the Latin verb mirari, meaning to wonder.
  • adjunct (n): something joined to a thing, but not essential to it. This is AD + the Latin verb jungere, meaning to join.
  • addition (n): the act of adding or uniting. The prefix AD is connected to the verb meaning to give (dare).
  • adhere (v): the act of clinging to or sticking to. The prefix AD is connected to the verb meaning to cling (haerere).
  • adorable (adj): to pay honor to, esteem, worship. The Latin verb orare means to beg or to pray. The compound adorare means to pray to or to worship.

Here are a few English derivatives in which the D changes to match the first letter of the root word.

  • abbreviate (v): to make shorter. Ad + brevis (brief, short)
  • accelerate (v): to quicken, to move faster. Ad + celer (swift)
  • affidavit (n): a written pledge of faith to, an oath. This is a legal term which is actually a Latin word. Affidavit means he/she has given an oath of faith to.
  • aggression (n): literally, a stepping toward. Ad + gressus (having stepped).
  • aggregate (v, n, adj): to gather together; a sum or mass; formed by collecting into a whole. Ad + grex, gregis (group or flock)
  • allure (v, n): to attract to, to tempt; fascination, charm.
  • annotate (v): to attach an explanitory note to. Ad + notare (to mark)
  • application (n): literally, to fold up to. Ad + plicare (to fold).
  • arrogant (adj): making claims or pretentions to superior status. Ad + rogare (to ask for).
  • assignation (n): an appointment, a special place or time assigned to a meeting. Ad + signum (sign, signal)
  • attract (v): to drag toward. Ad + trahere (to drag, draw).

This is by no means an exhaustive list of English derivatives containing the Latin prefix AD. How many more can your students think of?

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