Word Roots and Figurative Language

Word Roots

Word root: basis of a word that can give clues to that word’s meaning

Prefix: can be added to the beginning of a word to change its meaning

Suffix: can be added to the end of a word to change its meaning

If you know the prefixes, suffixes, or root of a word whose meaning you don’t know, you can make a good guess about what that word means!


Fort- is a word root that is found in the word fortress. What does the word fortitude mean?

A fortress is a strong building, so it can be inferred that fort- has something to do with strength. Then, fortitude might mean strength, which is quite close. It means mental and emotional strength in facing difficulties.


Use prefixes, suffixes, or root words to predict what illiterate means.

The prefix il- means not, and the root lit- has to do with writing, reading, and books. We can guess that illiterate means someone who cannot read or write.

Figurative Language

Figurative language is writing that goes beyond the literal meaning of words to make a point.

Types of figurative language:

Simile: compares two different things using the words “like” or “as”

  • The newly baked bread was as hot as the surface of the sun. (compares bread and sun using “as”)

  • The water slipped through my fingers like silk. (compares water and silk using “like”)

Metaphor: compares two different things without using “like” or “as”

  • The world is your oyster. (compares world and oyster)

  • Her eyes were sharp daggers piercing through my soul. (compares eyes and daggers)

Hyperbole: an exaggeration

  • My teacher assigned me a pile of worksheets as tall as Mount Everest.

  • I told you a million times to stop talking during class.

Personification: assigns human characteristics to nonhuman objects

  • The chair screeched in pain as I shoved it over.

  • The wind danced over the grassy field.


Sources Used and Helpful Links