root

1 of 4

noun

plural roots
1
a
: the usually underground part of a seed plant body that originates usually from the hypocotyl, functions as an organ of absorption, aeration, and food storage or as a means of anchorage and support, and differs from a stem especially in lacking nodes, buds, and leaves
b
: any subterranean plant part (such as a true root or a bulb, tuber, rootstock, or other modified stem) especially when fleshy and edible
2
a
: the part of a tooth within the socket
also : any of the processes into which this part is often divided see tooth illustration
b
: the enlarged basal part of a hair within the skin
c
: the proximal end of a nerve
especially : the initial segment of a spinal nerve where it branches from the spinal cord : nerve root see also dorsal root, ventral root
d
: the part of an organ or physical structure by which it is attached to the body
the root of the tongue
3
a
: something that is an origin or source (as of a condition or quality)
… the love of money is the root of all evil …1 Timothy 6:10 (King James Version)
b
: one or more progenitors of a group of descendants
usually used in plural
c
: an underlying support : basis
d
: the essential core : heart
often used in the phrase at root
e
: close relationship with an environment : tie
usually used in plural
They put down roots in a farming community.
4
a
: a quantity taken an indicated number of times as an equal factor
2 is a fourth root of 16.
b
: a number that reduces an equation to an identity when it is substituted for one variable
5
a
: the lower part : base
b
: the part by which an object is attached to something else
6
: the simple element inferred as the basis from which a word is derived by phonetic change or by extension (such as composition or the addition of an affix or inflectional ending)
7
: the lowest tone of a chord (such as C in a C minor chord) when the tones are arranged in ascending thirds
8
computers : a level of access to a computer system that allows complete access to files on the system and complete control over the system's functions
usually used before another noun
root user
root directory
rooted
ˈrü-təd How to pronounce root (audio)
ˈru̇-
adjective
rootedness noun
rootless
ˈrüt-ləs How to pronounce root (audio)
ˈru̇t-
adjective
rootlessness noun
rootlike
ˈrüt-ˌlīk How to pronounce root (audio)
ˈru̇t-
adjective

see also take root

root

2 of 4

verb (1)

rooted; rooting; roots

transitive verb

1
a
: to furnish with or enable to develop roots
b
: to fix or implant by or as if by roots
2
: to remove altogether by or as if by pulling out by the roots
usually used with out
root out dissenters

intransitive verb

1
: to grow roots or take root
2
: to have an origin or base

root

3 of 4

verb (2)

rooted; rooting; roots

intransitive verb

1
: to turn up or dig in the earth with the snout : grub
2
: to poke or dig about

transitive verb

: to turn over, dig up, or discover and bring to light
usually used with out
root out the cause of the problem

root

4 of 4

verb (3)

rooted; rooting; roots

intransitive verb

1
: to noisily applaud or encourage a contestant or team : cheer
2
: to wish the success of or lend support to someone or something
rooter noun
Choose the Right Synonym for root

origin, source, inception, root mean the point at which something begins its course or existence.

origin applies to the things or persons from which something is ultimately derived and often to the causes operating before the thing itself comes into being.

an investigation into the origin of baseball

source applies more often to the point where something springs into being.

the source of the Nile
the source of recurrent trouble

inception stresses the beginning of something without implying causes.

the business has been a success since its inception

root suggests a first, ultimate, or fundamental source often not easily discerned.

the real root of the violence

Examples of root in a Sentence

Noun Elm trees have shallow roots. Pull weeds up by the roots so that they don't grow back. You can tell that she dyes her hair blonde because her dark roots are showing. Verb (1) rooted the post securely in the dirt
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
The return to his roots comes two years after the infamous altercation with Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars, and follows the homecoming of Big Willy weekends at the box office amid the success of Bad Boys: Ride Or Die. Mya Abraham, VIBE.com, 10 July 2024 Ignorance is often the root of stigma, and despite decades of public education campaigns, Americans are still tragically uninformed about HIV — and the problem is getting worse. Spenser Mestel, The Hollywood Reporter, 10 July 2024
Verb
The changes are rooted at least in part in a generation of younger Democrats who have sought to challenge the party’s old guard. Yash Roy, The Hill, 10 July 2024 From the outset, Greg Berlanti’s film roots itself in the real world of the ’60s space race, using archive footage to place where the USA was at the end of the decade. Damon Wise, Deadline, 8 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for root 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'root.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English, from Old English rōt, from Old Norse; akin to Old English wyrt root, Latin radix, Greek rhiza

Verb (2)

alteration of wroot, from Middle English wroten, from Old English wrōtan; akin to Old High German ruozzan to root

Verb (3)

perhaps alteration of rout entry 5

First Known Use

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

Verb (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

Verb (2)

1516, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

Verb (3)

1889, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of root was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near root

Cite this Entry

“Root.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/root. Accessed 22 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

root

1 of 4 noun
1
a
: the leafless usually underground part of a plant that absorbs water and minerals, stores food, and holds the plant in place
b
: an underground plant part especially when fleshy and edible
2
a
: the part of a tooth within the socket
b
: the base or end of a bodily part (as a hair or a fingernail) or the part by which it is attached to the body
3
a
: an original cause : source
the roots of evil
b
: the ancestors of a person or a group of persons
people tracing their roots
c
: something that lies under and supports
the roots of a mountain chain
d
: core entry 1 sense 1, heart
the root of the problem
e
: a close relationship with a social environment
has roots in the South
4
a
: a number that when multiplied by itself a given number of times equals a specified number
2 is a 4th root of 16 because 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 = 16
b
: a solution of a polynomial equation with one unknown
(x + 1) (x - 1) = 0 has the roots x = -1 and x = 1
5
: a word or part of a word from which other words are formed
"butler" and "bottle" come from the same Latin root
rooted adjective
rootless adjective
rootlike adjective

root

2 of 4 verb
1
a
: to form or enable to form roots
b
: to fix or become fixed by or as if by roots : take root
2
: to remove by or as if by pulling out the roots
root out spies

root

3 of 4 verb
: to turn up or dig in the soil with the snout
pigs rooting for fungi

root

4 of 4 verb
1
2
: to wish for the success of someone or something
rooting for the underdog
rooter noun
Etymology

Noun

Old English rōt "root of a plant"; of Norse origin

Verb

perhaps an altered form of rout, a rare word meaning "to low or bellow like cattle"

Medical Definition

root

noun
1
a
: the usually underground part of a seed plant body that functions as an organ of absorption, aeration, and food storage or as a means of anchorage and support and that differs from a stem especially in lacking nodes, buds, and leaves
b
: any subterranean plant part (as a true root or a bulb, tuber, rootstock, or other modified stem) especially when fleshy and edible
2
a(1)
: the part of a tooth within the socket
(2)
: any of the processes into which the root of a tooth is often divided
b
: the enlarged basal part of a hair within the skin

called also hair root

c
: the proximal end of a nerve
especially : the initial segment of a spinal nerve where it branches from the spinal cord : nerve root see also dorsal root, ventral root
d
: the part of an organ or physical structure by which it is attached to the body
the root of the tongue
rootless adjective

Legal Definition

root

noun
in the civil law of Louisiana : descendant

Biographical Definition

Root

biographical name

ˈrüt How to pronounce Root (audio)
ˈru̇t
Elihu 1845–1937 American lawyer and statesman

More from Merriam-Webster on root

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