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Word Origins: Political Science


Word Origins: Political Science

Word Origins: Political Science

Learning Objectives

In this lesson, you will focus on the following objectives:
Understanding multiple-meaning words.
Understanding language resources.

Word Origins: Political Science

Vocabulary Terms
  1. prefix is an attachment at the beginning of a word. It adds to or changes the word’s meaning. 
  2. suffix is an attachment at the end of a word. It adds to or changes the word’s meaning. 
  3. word root is the part of the original word to which a prefix or suffix is attached. 
  4. base word is the original word to which a prefix or suffix may be attached.
Literature Connection

Thomas Jefferson’s words helped to “dissolve the political bands” between England and its American colonies.
“Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it.”

 —Thomas Jefferson, from the Declaration of Independence

Much of the political language Jefferson used, and that we still use today, traces its origins to ancient Greek and Latin.

Many dictionaries display the etymology, or origin and history, of a word in brackets before or after its definition. For example, the following entry contains the etymology of the word govern. Note that the symbol < means “comes from.”


The entry indicates that the word govern comes from a Middle English (ME) word, which comes from the Old French (OF) word gouverner, which comes from the Latin word gubernare, which comes from the Greek kybernan, meaning “to steer.” Knowing the etymology of the word govern not only enhances your understanding of the word’s origins but may also help you understand other related words, such as government and governor.


Word Origins: Political Science

Analyzing word parts can help you determine the meanings of words and increase your vocabulary. If you memorize common prefixes and suffixes, you will be more prepared when taking standardized tests.

Word Origins: Political Science Activity

Use a dictionary to research the origins of the following political terms that appear in the Declaration of Independence. In a chart, copy the etymology for each word and write an explanation, similar to the one above, of its origin. How might knowing a word’s etymology help you understand the meanings of other words? 

Word Etymology Explanation

Possible etymologies:


Mr. ‏El-Sayed Ramadan ‎ ‎


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