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Social Studies Vocabulary
via Latin Roots

Why should students build social studies vocabulary?

Why should teachers include Latin roots in a social studies lesson plan?

From politics and government to civics and civil rights, students need to develop specialized vocabulary to understand social studies.

Our strategy is to explore all the vocabulary-building potential in one Latin root word.

Understanding this Latin root will give students a foundation to be used in building vocabulary for a lifetime.

Latin Word of the Week (3/2/2008):



You'll be amazed how many English derivatives come from this Latin noun meaning citizen. And your students will be amazed how many words they already know!

Social Studies Vocabulary: Civics

Prior Knowledge

Words that access prior knowledge help you and your students remember the meaning of the Latin root word.

civil (adj): of a citizen, suitable for a citizen; kind, polished, polite. Makes civil war an oxymoron, doesn't it?

civics (n): the study or science of the behavior, rights, and responsibilities of citizens.

Brainstorming: Can you think of more derivatives?

civility (n): courtesy and politeness. One who has civility acts as a citizen ought to act. The political enemies exchanges civilities before the debate began. Its opposite is barbarity.

incivility (n): discourteous behavior, impoliteness. No matter how angry a teacher may become, the classroom is no place for incivility.

civilization (civilisation) (n): a society refined by high culture, i.e. the arts, government, science, industry, and large Latin programs. Latin does have a civilizing influence on students.

civilian (n/adj): as a noun, one who is not active in the military, naval forces, police or firefighters, etc. After the war, the soldier return home as a civilian finished college.

As an adjective, civilian means pertaining to citizens. Think of civilian clothes, a civilian job.

civilize (civilise) (v): to make civil, to bring out of a savage, rude state; to enlighten, to refine. Children may seem wild, but in time they will be civilized.

civilly (adv): politely, courteously; in accordance with civil law. She sensed animosity from her mother-in-law, but both women spoke civilly to one another.

uncivil (adj): without good manners, rude, impolite. It is uncivil to spit in public, chew with your mouth open, or yawn during conversation.

civism (n): good citizenship. Young people who practice civism will likely find success and happiness as adults.

Social Studies Vocabulary:

civil disobedience (n): a polite, non-violent refusal to obey laws, in the hope of changing those laws. The tactic of choice for Ghandi and Dr. Martin Luther King.

civil law (n): the laws governing the private matters of citizens; civil law is distinct from military law, political law, and criminal law.

Civil law also refers to Roman law, ius civile, or law derived from Roman custom, as opposed to laws derived from all nations (ius gentium) or to natural law (ius naturale).

civil rights (n): rights extended to all citizens, especially those regarding legal, social, economic equality.

Latin in English

civitas (civitates) (n): a state; the body of citizens who make up a state.

This is NOT an exhaustive list of social studies vocabulary from CIVIS!

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vocabulary puzzle!

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