Latin Derivatives

A Toolbox of Words


College and Career Success



Many years ago my personal library included a small book entitled 30 Days to a More Powerful Vocabulary by Wilfred Funk and Norman Lewis. How many words, I wondered recently, did that book feature? Surely no more than a hundred, I opined, since more than that would be hard to assimilate fully in just thirty days. Imagine my amazement when, upon returning to it, I counted more than three hundred principal words (an exact count is impossible because of the manner in which the words are introduced). That’s ten words the reader is expected to learn each day in the suggested time of fifteen minutes. This is possible, of course, but only if one does not wish to retain the words.

Latin Derivatives: A Toolbox for College and Career Success has more than seven hundred challenging words. If I were using it as a high-school or college student, I would plan to make it my vade mecum (page 281) for at least a year, studying the words ten at a time and then practicing them as often as possible. These are words you can sink your teeth into. How many college grads know the nouns casuistry, animism, recreant, and obloquy? the adjectives flagitious, riparian, recondite, and dilatory? the verbs festinate, expatiate, expostulate, and intenerate?

You may wonder why I chose only Latin derivatives for this book. My principal reason was pragmatic. When I taught Latin, I collected thousands of Latin derivatives, some of which I assigned to my students. I’ve chosen the crème de la crème of these thousands of words for this book. In English, there is no shortage of impressive Latin derivatives to choose from. Some sixty percent of all English words are of Latin origin. For historical reasons, the percentage of Latin derivatives among impressive English words is even higher.

The influence of Latin on the English language did not happen all at once; it took place over hundreds of years in the following ways: 1) during the 400-year Roman occupancy of Britain (55 b.c.e. to 383 c.e.), bits and pieces of Latin entered the Celtic language of the native inhabitants; 2) through fighting and trade, the ancient Romans left a Latin stamp on the Germanic languages of the Angles, the Saxons, and the Jutes before these tribes migrated to Britain in the fifth century; 3) Christian missionaries introduced hundreds of Latin words (especially words of a scholarly nature) to Britain in the 6th and 7th centuries; 4) when William the Conqueror of Normandy conquered England in 1066, French (a direct descendant of Latin) became the language of government and high culture, a role it retained for over 300 years; 5) Latin, the language of scholars in the Middle Ages, served as the lingua franca of European scholars throughout the Renaissance and beyond; 6) with the ascent of science, Latin was used extensively in the formation of new and complex nomenclatures.

The Latin derivatives in this book have been grouped randomly. There are, of course, other ways in which they might have been arranged, e.g., alphabetically with respect to the Latin parent words (as I did in my book Thousands of Latin Derivatives, 2005) and according to the perceived degree of difficulty of the Latin parent words (as I did in my book 2016 Latin Derivatives for Latin Students, 2nd ed., 2005). As you become familiar with the derivatives, you may want to arrange them differently for yourself. For instance, you might want to arrange words in verb / adjective / noun trios, like this: extirpate / extirpative / extirpation; expostulate / expostulatory / expostulation; obviate / obviable / obviation. You get the idea.

In Latin Derivatives: A Toolbox for College and Career Succes, each Latin derivative is accompanied by one or more meanings, by an original sample sentence, and by the Latin word or words from which it is derived. Each of the book’s seven units of ten lessons each is introduced by a pre-test and followed by unit review. Each of the seventy lessons presents ten Latin derivatives. In special sections following Lesson 70, you will find a quiz for each lesson and a test for every ten lessons as well as separate sections for quiz answers and for test answers. I’ve also included a special test of synonyms for your enjoyment. You’ll also find a collection of fifty words related to the book’s principal entries as well as twenty-eight useful Latin phrases, defined and used in sample sentences. An index of the Latin derivatives featured in this book is the penultimate entry. This index can double as a study list. By checking off the words you know, you gradually get to the point of mastery of the complete list. If you are interested in the etymology of this book’s target words, you will want to familiarize yourself with a list of Latin-derived prefixes on the last page before you begin your journey through the book.

The 7" x 9" 291-page book is coil-bound for ease of photocopying by teachers who might want to distribute pages of the book to their students. The price is $25, including handling and media-mail postage to addresses in the United States. If you wish to order, please write to me at I will send you my address and other information you might need or request.


To see the table of contents, click here

To see the Latin derivatives of Lesson 37, click here.

To see (and maybe try) the pre-test for Unit 7, click here. You'll find the answers too. 



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