Learn It Part 2
Another strategy in determining the meaning of unfamiliar words is to look at the word parts – the root word and affixes – which include prefixes and suffixes.
Before we begin reading passages to determine word meaning, let’s look at the form of government that existed in Russia at the time of the Russian Revolution. The government may be described using several terms: autocracy, authoritarian and totalitarian.
By using the word parts strategy, you can determine the meaning of the words.
Autocracy = auto (one) + cracy (rule)
Therefore, the term autocracy means rule by one.
Authoritarian = authorit(y) (power to decide) + -arian (a person)
Therefore, the term authoritarian means one person who decides.
Totalitarian = totalit(y) (total) + -arian (a person)
Therefore, the term totalitarian means a person who holds all power.
Knowing the meaning of a prefix, suffix or root word can help you determine the meaning of many words. In this case, knowing the meaning of one suffix, “arian,” helps you determine the meaning of two words.