A lot of Latin seems concerned with the idea of translation.

For example

  • pater means 'father'.
  • mater means 'mother'.

But another important aspect of Latin is the influence which Latin words have on English. When an English word owes its form directly to the Latin word this is known as a derivative or a word derived from Latin.

For example,

  • A word derived from pater is patricide.
  • A derivation of mater is maternal.
  • A derivation of scribit is prescribe.

That is (or i.e. (id est)) these more complicated English words come directly from the Latin word. Sometimes they are combined with another word as in the case of patricide (pater + caedo ('to kill')), a suffix (mater + nal) or a prefix (pre + scribe). Occasionally you can find words with different combinations of these three things (e.g. pre-scrip-tion).

The Roman Family



  • The following words are derived from pater .... what do they mean?
    • patricide
    • paternal
    • paternity
  • Similar words can be formed from the Latin for mother (mater). What are they?

  • If you demonstrate filial duty what are you demonstrating?

  • If you have a servile nature, what kind of nature do you have?

  • Why is a fraternity called a fraternity? Or a sorority called a sorority?

  • Why are canine teeth called canine teeth?

  • Why is a triclinium called a triclinium?

  • What other words can you find in English which have 'tri-' or 'cline' in them? What do they mean?

  • What is horticulture?

  • How about agriculture?

  • So what does -cult- mean?

  • Give some English words derived from scribit.

  • If you lead a sedentary life, what kind of life do you lead?

  • What is wrong with a bibulous man?

  • What English words derive from laborat?

Key Terms covered in the word building:

patricide; paternal; paternity; matricide; maternal; maternity; filial; fratricide; fraternal; fraternity; sorority; servile; canine; decline; recline; incline; horticulture; agriculture; scribe; scripture; script; labour; Labour; laboratory; dormitory; sedentary; bibulous

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