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A rootword is what is left over when you take away the prefixes and suffixes of words. For example the word lovely when you take away the suffix -ly you are left with the root word love. Most words in the English language are based on words from ancient Greek and Latin. The root of the word vocabulary for example is voc a Latin root meaning "word" or "name". Root Words hold the most basic meaning of any word. Prefixes like "un" or "anti" can completely change the meaning of the word from likely to unlikely, for example.