Greek and Latin Roots

As you may know English and French share lots of terms and expressions. Despite being a Germanic Language, English has been influenced by many Romance languages which derive from Latin, like French and Italian.

Latin and Romance influence in English vocabulary -

Latin and Romance influence in English vocabulary -

Since French has also been influenced by Latin and Greek, this graph tells us that English shares 64% of its roots with French!


Let’s take a closer look at Latin. You are surely familiar with a number of Latin acronyms, commonly found in written texts. Few examples:

Acronym Latin Meaning
etc. et cetera and so on
N.B. nota bene to note well
P.S. post scriptum after text
e.g. exempli gratia for the sake of an example

But do you use Latin expressions in English conversation? Well, even though Latin is a dead language, it is not uncommon to borrow some Latin expressions in French conversation.

Expression Meaning Usage in French
A priori Theoratically A priori, cette solution est possible
Ad vitam aeternam Eternally, indefinitely Il a attendu ad vitam aeternam !
De visu With one’s own eyes J’ai constaté de visu que la porte était fermée
In extremis At the last moment Il a été sauvé in extremis
Intra muros Within the walls J’habite à Paris intra muros
Sine qua non Essential condition C’est la condition sine qua non à la réussite de ce projet
Mea culpa Acknowledgment of one’s fault or error Mes mots ont dépassé mes pensées, mea culpa


In both French and English, the Greek heritage hasn’t left a lot of complete words but rather prefixes or suffixes. When thinking of Ancient Greece, we immediately think of its philosophers: Thalès, Pythagore, Socrate, Platon… It’s no wonder that today terms describing concepts, science or maths are deeply rooted to Greek.


Let’s see a few examples.

Prefix Meaning Usage in English Usage in French
Hyper Over Hyperactive Hyperactif
Hypo Under Hypothesis Hypothèse
Mega Big Megalopolis Mégalopole
Demo People Demography Démographie
Mono Alone Monopoly Monopole
Pyro Fire Pyrography Pyrogravure
Mytho Legend Mythology Mythologie