Frankenwords: Words with Roots from Different Languages

Words derived from more than one language are called "hybrid words." Many hybrid words in English have a combination of Latin and Greek roots, but you'll also find other interesting combinations in the list below.

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definitions & notes only words
  1. monoculture
    the act or practice of growing only one type of crop
    But experts say it is likely to reflect the insect situation in places like North America, where monoculture and pesticide use are widespread.
    monos (Greek: "single") + cultura (Latin: "cultivating")
  2. dysfunction
    any disturbance in the working of an organ or body part
    These findings tally with brain-imaging studies suggesting dysfunction of some regions in insomnia, and with animal studies implicating these cells in sleep regulation.
    dys- (Greek: "bad") + functionem (Latin: "performance")
  3. claustrophobia
    a morbid fear of being closed in a confined space
    I suffer from claustrophobia: simply being in an elevator sets my teeth on edge.
    claustrum (Latin: "bolting, closing") + -phobia (Greek: "fear")
  4. neonatal
    relating to the infant during the first month after birth
    The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center says the young patients are in the Children’s Hospital neonatal intensive care unit.
    neos (Greek: "new") + natalis (Latin: "of birth")
  5. neuroscience
    the scientific study of the nervous system and the brain
    The finding that some people in a coma show signs of consciousness was transformative for neuroscience, says Seth.
    neur- (Greek: "of nerves") + scientia (Latin: "knowledge")
  6. petroleum
    a dark oil consisting mainly of hydrocarbons
    Oils are powerful fuels, but the high price of refined petroleum, the oil generally preferred, precludes its widespread use for many purposes for which it is suitable.
    petra (Greek: "rock") + oleum (Latin: "oil")
  7. sociopath
    a person with an antisocial personality disorder
    But unless you're dealing with an actual psychopath or sociopath, it's virtually impossible for a human being to not connect on some level if the person is being patient and genuine.
    socius (Latin: "companion") + pathos (Greek: "suffering")
  8. bureaucracy
    a government administered primarily by nonelective officials
    It’s impossible for federal, state and local bureaucracies to move in sync in such a short period for several reasons.
    bureau (French: "writing desk") + -kratia (Greek: "power of")
  9. speedometer
    a meter fixed to a vehicle that measures and displays its speed
    The cab’s speedometer never dipped below ninety-five the whole way through the Mojave Desert.
    spod (Old Saxon: "success") + metron (Greek: "a measure")
  10. genocide
    systematic killing of a racial or cultural group
    The museum focuses on stereotypes, prejudice, genocide, the history of intolerance.
    genos (Greek: "race, kind") + -cida (Latin: "killer, cutter")
  11. automobile
    a motor vehicle with four wheels
    In 1898 General Motors lacked the capital to hire salesmen for its new automobiles, so it sold franchises to prospective car dealers, giving them exclusive rights to certain territories.
    autos (Greek: "self") + mobilis (Latin: "movable")
  12. television
    an electronic device that receives television signals and displays them on a screen
    My mother is standing in front of the television, listening to the news anchor.
    tele (Greek: "afar") + visionem (Latin: "sight")
  13. sociology
    the study and classification of human societies
    In doing so he is not committed, however, to belief in or use of any particular form of what is known as the science of society or sociology.
    socius (Latin: "companion") + -logie (Greek: "speaking")
  14. merriment
    activities that are enjoyable or amusing
    It was a merry night and he was joyful to be there in the warmth and merriment, keeping festival with his companions.
    myrge (Old English: "pleasing") + mentum (Latin: suffix forming nouns to indicate an action)
  15. talkative
    friendly and open and willing to communicate
    June was funny like that, talkative and loud in class, but at lunch and during gym, she got quiet.
    talken, tale (Middle English: "story") + -ativus (Latin: "of or related to")
  16. electrocution
    execution by electricity
    Downed or broken power lines also may pose electrocution hazards.
    elektro- (Greek: "amber") + execut- (Latin: "carry out")
  17. hypertension
    a disorder in which blood pressure remains abnormally high
    Common among patients are chronic ailments like diabetes and hypertension.
    hyper (Greek: "to excess") + tensionem (Latin: "a stretching")
  18. bigamy
    the offense of marrying someone while you have a spouse
    Being married to more than one person, or bigamy, is illegal across the United States.
    bi- (Latin: "double") + gamos (Greek: "marrying")
  19. meritocracy
    a social system in which power goes to superior intellects
    Their scores functioned as a currency of merit for a nation that aspired to meritocracy.
    meritus (Latin: "earning") + -kratia (Greek: "power")
  20. biodegradable
    capable of being decomposed
    Nestle was developing new paper-based materials and biodegradable polymers that are also recyclable.
    bio (Greek: "life") + de- (Latin: "down") + gradi (Latin: "walk") + -abilis (Latin: "capable of")
  21. dehydrate
    remove water from
    “We dehydrate a lot of berries for granola and trail mixes.”
    de- (Latin: "down, away") + hydr- (Greek: "water")
  22. carbohydrate
    an essential component of living cells and source of energy
    There are innumerable plant-animal combinations, mostly in the sea, where the green plant cells provide carbohydrate and oxygen for the animal and receive a share of energy in return.
    carbo (Latin: "carbon") + hydr- (Greek: "water")
  23. amorally
    without regard for the distinction between right and wrong
    A few weeks ago, I wrote about how it's fruitless to expect corporations to be moral – they are dumbly, amorally acquisitive.
    a- (Greek: "without") + moralis (Latin: "proper behavior")
  24. autochthonous
    originating where it is found
    He also grows about 30 other vegetables or herbs for Mr. Alija, from the autochthonous to the exotic.
    autokhton (Greek: "native") + -ous (Old French) from -osus (Latin: "having, full of")
  25. eponymous
    relating to a name derived from a person
    He is best known for his outspokenness and his role in crafting the eponymous Dodd-Frank Act, which sought to regulate the financial industry after the crash last decade.
    eponym (Greek: "giving one's name") + -ous (Old French) from -osus (Latin: "having, full of")
Created on August 13, 2019 (updated August 16, 2019)

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