Meaning of ROOT in English

I. root 1 S2 W2 /ruːt/ BrE AmE noun [countable]

[ Date: 1100-1200 ; Language: Old Norse ; Origin: rot ]

1 . PLANT the part of a plant or tree that grows under the ground and gets water from the soil:

tree roots

These plants produce a number of thin roots.

⇨ ↑ root crop , ↑ root vegetable

2 . CAUSE OF A PROBLEM the main cause of a problem

be/lie at the root of something (=be the cause of something)

Allergies are at the root of a lot of health problems.

The love of money is the root of all evil.

A competent mechanic should be able to get to the root of the problem (=find out the cause of a problem) .

the root causes of crime

3 . ORIGIN/MAIN PART the origin or main part of something such as a custom, law, activity etc, from which other things have developed

root in

a legal system with roots in English common law

Jazz has its roots in the folk songs of the southern states of the US.

be/lie at the root of something

the liberal economic policies which lie at the root of American power

4 . FAMILY CONNECTION sb’s roots your relation to a place because you were born there, or your family used to live there:

immigrants keeping in touch with their cultural roots

Alex Haley’s story about his search for his roots became a bestseller.

5 . put down roots if you put down roots somewhere, you start to feel that a place is your home and to have relationships with the people there:

Because of her husband’s job, they’d moved too often to put down roots anywhere.

6 . TOOTH/HAIR ETC the part of a tooth, hair etc that connects it to the rest of your body:

She’d pulled some of Kelly’s hair out by the roots.

7 . take root

a) if an idea, method, activity etc takes root, people begin to accept or believe it, or it begins to have an effect:

Economists believe that economic recovery will begin to take root next year.

b) if a plant takes root, it starts to grow where you have planted it

8 . have a (good) root round British English informal to search for something by moving other things around

9 . LANGUAGE technical the basic part of a word which shows its main meaning, to which other parts can be added. For example, the word ‘coldness’ is formed from the root ‘cold’ and the ↑ suffix ‘ness’. ⇨ stem

10 . MATHEMATICS technical a number that, when multiplied by itself a certain number of times, equals the number that you have:

2 is the fourth root of 16.

11 . root and branch if you destroy or change something root and branch, you get rid of it or change it completely and permanently because it is bad:

a root and branch reform of the electoral system

⇨ ↑ cube root , ↑ square root , ↑ grass roots

• • •


■ where something comes from

▪ origin/origins the place or situation in which something begins to exist:

the origins of the conflict in the Middle East


The book explains the origin of words.


Her disability is genetic in origin.

▪ source the thing, place etc that you get something from:

They get their money from various sources.


Beans are a good source of protein.

▪ root the root of a problem is the main cause. The roots of something are the things that it was originally based on:

Allergies are at the root of a lot of health problems.


At the root of the crisis was a shortage of hard cash.


They want a return to the roots of Christianity.


Reggae has its roots in a range of different musical styles.

▪ the birthplace of something the place where something first started to exist:

New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz.


Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee

▪ the cradle of something the place where something important first started – used mainly in the following phrases:

Ancient Athens is considered to be the cradle of democracy.


Baghdad was the cradle of civilization.

▪ starting point an idea, suggestion etc from which a discussion, process, or project can develop:

His paper provided an excellent starting point for discussion.

II. root 2 BrE AmE verb

[ Sense 1-2, 4-5: Date: 1200-1300 ; Origin: ⇨ ↑ root 1 ]

[ Sense 3: Language: Old English ; Origin: wrotan . root for 1800-1900 Perhaps from rout (of cattle) 'to make a loud sound' (14-19 centuries) , from Old Norse rauta ]


a) [intransitive] to grow roots:

New shrubs will root easily in summer.

b) [transitive usually passive] if a plant is rooted somewhere, it is held in the ground firmly by its roots:

a bush firmly rooted in the hard ground

root itself

Clumps of thyme had rooted themselves between the rocks.

2 . be rooted in something to have developed from something and be strongly influenced by it:

The country’s economic troubles are rooted in a string of global crises.

This feeling of rejection is often deeply rooted in childhood.

3 . SEARCH [intransitive always + adverb/preposition] to search for something by moving things around SYN rummage

root through/in/amongst something (for something)

Leila rooted through her handbag for a pen.

4 . PIGS [intransitive usually + adverb/preposition] if a pig roots somewhere, it looks for food under the ground

root for

pigs rooting for truffles

5 . rooted to the spot/floor/ground etc so shocked, surprised, or frightened that you cannot move:

She stood rooted to the spot, staring at him.

root for somebody phrasal verb informal

1 . to want someone to succeed in a competition, test, or difficult situation:

You can do it – I’m rooting for you.

2 . especially American English to support a sports team or player by shouting and cheering:

the Los Angeles fans rooting for the Lakers

root something ↔ out phrasal verb

1 . to find out where a particular kind of problem exists and get rid of it:

Action is being taken to root out corruption in the police force.

2 . to find something by searching for it:

I’ll try and root out something for you to wear.

root something ↔ up phrasal verb

to dig or pull a plant up with its roots

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.