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The Root SYM

What does a symphony have in common with a symbol?

Today as I was working on the video for Spelling List 3, I encountered the root "sym" in the word symbol. This reminded me of the power of roots for both spelling and vocabulary development.

SYM is the Greek root for same, with, or together.

It is found in words such as symbol which means something that represents, or has the same meaning, as another; sympathy meaning two or more people have the same feelings; symphony which literally means same sound or sounds together (phon is the root for sound. Phonogram, phonograph, megaphone, telephone...). What a beautiful image of a symphony to think of the players all working together to make one and the same sound. Symbiotic means same life. Two organisms that depend upon one other are symbiotic and therefore share life. (Bio is the root for life: biology, biography, etc.)

When we learn the meaning of roots we drastically decrease the need for rote memorization. Rather we are able to understand why words mean what they do and to rapidly increase our vocabularies. In addition, knowing the meaning of roots is an enormous help on vocabulary sections of standardized tests. When students are able to break apart a word based upon its morphemes, they are often able to discern the meaning of a previously unknown word with ease.