Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The usually underground portion of a plant that lacks buds, leaves, or nodes and serves as support, draws minerals and water from the surrounding soil, and sometimes stores food.
  • n. Any of various other underground plant parts, especially an underground stem such as a rhizome, corm, or tuber.
  • n. The embedded part of an organ or structure such as a hair, tooth, or nerve, that serves as a base or support.
  • n. A base or support: We snipped the wires at the roots.
  • n. An essential part or element; the basic core: I finally got to the root of the problem.
  • n. A primary source; an origin. See Synonyms at origin.
  • n. A progenitor or ancestor from which a person or family is descended.
  • n. The condition of being settled and of belonging to a particular place or society. Often used in the plural: Our roots in this town go back a long way.
  • n. The state of having or establishing an indigenous relationship with or a personal affinity for a particular culture, society, or environment: music with unmistakable African roots.
  • n. Linguistics The element that carries the main component of meaning in a word and provides the basis from which a word is derived by adding affixes or inflectional endings or by phonetic change.
  • n. Linguistics Such an element reconstructed for a protolanguage. Also called radical.
  • n. Mathematics A number that when multiplied by itself an indicated number of times forms a product equal to a specified number. For example, a fourth root of 4 is √2. Also called nth root.
  • n. Mathematics A number that reduces a polynomial equation in one variable to an identity when it is substituted for the variable.
  • n. Mathematics A number at which a polynomial has the value zero.
  • n. Music The note from which a chord is built.
  • n. Music Such a note occurring as the lowest note of a triad or other chord.
  • intransitive v. To grow roots or a root.
  • intransitive v. To become firmly established, settled, or entrenched.
  • intransitive v. To come into existence; originate.
  • transitive v. To cause to put out roots and grow.
  • transitive v. To implant by or as if by the roots.
  • transitive v. To furnish a primary source or origin to.
  • transitive v. To remove by or as if by the roots. Often used with up or out: "declared that waste and fraud will be vigorously rooted out of Government” ( New York Times).
  • idiom root and branch Utterly; completely: The organization has been transformed root and branch by its new leaders.
  • transitive v. To dig with or as if with the snout or nose: Even a blind hog can root up an acorn.
  • intransitive v. To dig in the earth with or as if with the snout or nose.
  • intransitive v. To rummage for something: rooted around for a pencil in his cluttered office.
  • intransitive v. To give audible encouragement or applause to a contestant or team; cheer. See Synonyms at applaud.
  • intransitive v. To lend support to someone or something.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The part of a plant, generally underground, that absorbs water and nutrients.
  • n. A root vegetable.
  • n. The part of a tooth extending into the bone holding the tooth in place.
  • n. The part of a hair under the skin that holds the hair in place.
  • n. The part of a hair near the skin that has not been dyed, permed, or otherwise treated.
  • n. The primary source.
  • n. Of a number or expression, a number which, when raised to a specified power, yields the specified number or expression.
  • n. A square root (understood if no power is specified; in which case, “the root of” is often abbreviated to “root”).
  • n. A zero (of a function).
  • n. The single node of a tree that has no parent.
  • n. The primary lexical unit of a word, which carries the most significant aspects of semantic content and cannot be reduced into smaller constituents. Inflectional stems often derive from roots.
  • n. A word from which another word or words are derived.
  • n. In UNIX terminology, the first user account with complete access to the operating system and its configuration, found at the root of the directory structure.
  • n. The person who manages accounts on a UNIX system.
  • n. The highest directory of a directory structure which may contain both files and subdirectories. In PC-based systems the number of entries in a root directory may be limited whereas the number entries in subdirectories is unlimited.
  • v. To break into a computer system and obtain root access.
  • v. To rummage, to search as if by digging in soil.
  • v. To root out; to abolish.
  • v. To have sexual intercourse.
  • n. An act of sexual intercourse.
  • n. A sexual partner.
  • v. To hope for the success of.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n.
  • n. The underground portion of a plant, whether a true root or a tuber, a bulb or rootstock, as in the potato, the onion, or the sweet flag.
  • n. The descending, and commonly branching, axis of a plant, increasing in length by growth at its extremity only, not divided into joints, leafless and without buds, and having for its offices to fix the plant in the earth, to supply it with moisture and soluble matters, and sometimes to serve as a reservoir of nutriment for future growth. A true root, however, may never reach the ground, but may be attached to a wall, etc., as in the ivy, or may hang loosely in the air, as in some epiphytic orchids.
  • n. An edible or esculent root, especially of such plants as produce a single root, as the beet, carrot, etc..
  • n. That which resembles a root in position or function, esp. as a source of nourishment or support; that from which anything proceeds as if by growth or development.
  • n. An ancestor or progenitor; and hence, an early race; a stem.
  • n. A primitive form of speech; one of the earliest terms employed in language; a word from which other words are formed; a radix, or radical.
  • n. The cause or occasion by which anything is brought about; the source.
  • n. That factor of a quantity which when multiplied into itself will produce that quantity.
  • n. The fundamental tone of any chord; the tone from whose harmonics, or overtones, a chord is composed.
  • n. The lowest place, position, or part.
  • n. The time which to reckon in making calculations.
  • intransitive v. To turn up the earth with the snout, as swine.
  • intransitive v. Hence, to seek for favor or advancement by low arts or groveling servility; to fawn servilely.
  • intransitive v. To fix the root; to enter the earth, as roots; to take root and begin to grow.
  • intransitive v. To be firmly fixed; to be established.
  • intransitive v. To shout for, or otherwise noisly applaud or encourage, a contestant, as in sports; hence, to wish earnestly for the success of some one or the happening of some event, with the superstitious notion that this action may have efficacy; -- usually with for.
  • transitive v. To turn up or to dig out with the snout.
  • transitive v. To plant and fix deeply in the earth, or as in the earth; to implant firmly; hence, to make deep or radical; to establish; -- used chiefly in the participle
  • transitive v. To tear up by the root; to eradicate; to extirpate; -- with up, out, or away.
  • transitive v.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To fix the root; strike root; enter the earth, as roots.
  • To be firmly fixed; be established.
  • To fix by the root or as if by roots; plant and fix deep in the earth: as, a tree roots itself; a deeply rooted tree.
  • To plant deeply; impress deeply and durably: used chiefly in the past participle.
  • To dig or burrow in with the snout; turn up with the snout, as a swine.
  • To tear up or out as if by rooting; eradicate; extirpate; remove or destroy utterly; exterminate: generally with up, out, or away.
  • To turn up the earth with the snout, as swine.
  • To push with the snout.
  • A dialectal form of rot.
  • To work hard for the success of some person or thing: as, to root for one's party (at an election); specifically, in base-ball, etc., to exert oneself for the success of one's side, usually by uproarious applause intended partly to disconcert the other side.
  • n. In botany, a part of the body of a plant which, typically, grows downward into the soil, fixes the plant, and absorbs nutriment.
  • n. Specifically, an esculent root, as a beet or a carrot.
  • n. That which resembles a root in shape, position, or function; that from which anything springs.
  • n. Hence— The bottom or lower part of anything; foundation.
  • n. The origin or cause of anything; source.
  • n. The basis of anything; ground; support.
  • n. In philology, an elementary notional syllable; that part of a word which conveys its essential meaning, as distinguished from the formative parts by which this meaning is modified; an element in a language, whether arrived at by analysis of words or existing uncombined, in which no formative element is demonstrable: thus, true may be regarded as the root of un-tru-th-ful-ness.
  • n. The first ancestor; an early progenitor.
  • n. In mathematics: The root of any quantity is such a quantity as, when multiplied into itself a certain number of times, will exactly produce that quantity. Thus, 2 is a root of 4, because when multiplied into itself it exactly produces 4. Power and root are correlative terms: the power is named from the number of the factors employed in the multiplication, and the root is named from the power. Thus, if a quantity be multiplied once by itself, the product is called the second power, or square, and the quantity itself the square root, or second root of the product; if the quantity be multiplied twice by itself, we obtain the third power, or cube, and the quantity is the cube root or third root; and so on. The character marking a root is √ (a modification of r for radix, which has been used probably since the middle of the sixteenth century), and the particular root is indicated by placing above the sign the figure which expresses the number of the root, which figure is called the index of the root. Thus, √16 indicates the fourth root of 16 (that is, 2), and √4 the square root of 4 (that is, 2)—the index in the case of the square root being usually omitted. The same is the case with algebraic quantities, as √ (a + 3ab + 3ab + b) = a + b. See power, index, involution, evolution. The root of an equation is a quantity which, substituted for the unknown quantity, satisfies the equation: thus, 2 + √2 is a root of the equation x—5x + 6x—2 = 0; for the sum of which is 0. Another root of the same equation is obviously 1; and the third root will be found to be 2—√2.
  • n. In music: With reference to a compound tone or a series of harmonics, the fundamental, generator, or ground tone. With reference to a chord, the fundamental tone—that is, the tone from whose harmonics the tones of the chord are selected, or the tone on which they are conceived to be built up. Theorists are not agreed as to what constitutes a root of a chord, or whether a chord may have two roots; and in many cases the term is used merely to designate the lowest tone of a chord when arranged in its simplest or normal position.
  • n. In chronology, the earliest time at which an event can take place, as a movable feast; also, the time at which any progressive change begins.
  • n. In astrology, the state of things at the beginning of any time; particularly, the figure of the heavens at the instant of birth, specifically called the root of nativity, a term also applied to the horoscope, or ascendant. Chaucer, in the passage below, has in mind the introduction to Zahel's treatise on Elections, where it is stated that elections of fortunate times for undertakings are not much to be depended upon, except in the case of kings, who have their roots of nativity (that is, in their case there is no doubt as to the precise aspect of the heavens at the moment of birth), which roots strengthen the inferences to be drawn, especially (at least so Chaucer understands the words) in the case of a journey. When the horoscope of birth was not known, astrologers were accustomed to determine elections chiefly by the place and phase of the moon, whose influence was, however, considered debile. It appears that in the case of the lady of the story, the moon was impedited in the root of nativity (see Almansor, Prop. 35: “Cum in radice nativitatis impedietur luna,” etc.), and Mars, a planet most unfavorable to journeys, was at azir, or lord of the ascendant, at her birth, and was in the fourth, or darkest, house; so that the omens of the journey were as gloomy as they well could be.
  • n. In hydraulic engineering, the end of a weir or dam where it is joined to the natural bank.
  • n. In horticulture, a growing plant with its root; also, a tuber or bulb.
  • n. Gross amount; sum total.
  • n. In English history, the extremists of the Parliamentary party who about 1641 favored the overthrow of Episcopacy; also, the policy of these extremists.
  • n. To become fixed; become established.
  • n. (See also bloodroot, bowman's-root, cancer-root, colic-root, musk-root, orris-root, rattlesnake-root, and snakeroot.)
  • n. A form of rut.
  • n. In mech., the part of a gear-tooth where it joins the rim of the wheel; the base of a tooth.
  • n. The sweet-flag.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. (botany) the usually underground organ that lacks buds or leaves or nodes; absorbs water and mineral salts; usually it anchors the plant to the ground
  • v. plant by the roots
  • v. dig with the snout
  • n. a simple form inferred as the common basis from which related words in several languages can be derived by linguistic processes
  • n. the set of values that give a true statement when substituted into an equation
  • v. cause to take roots
  • v. take root and begin to grow
  • n. the part of a tooth that is embedded in the jaw and serves as support
  • n. (linguistics) the form of a word after all affixes are removed
  • n. someone from whom you are descended (but usually more remote than a grandparent)
  • n. a number that, when multiplied by itself some number of times, equals a given number
  • v. come into existence, originate
  • v. become settled or established and stable in one's residence or life style
  • n. the place where something begins, where it springs into being

Etymologies

Middle English rot, from Old English rōt, from Old Norse.
Middle English wroten, from Old English wrōtan.
Possibly alteration of rout.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English root ("the underground part of a plant"), from late Old English rōt, from Old Norse rót (Icelandic rót), from Proto-Germanic *wrōts, from Proto-Indo-European *wréh₂ds (“root”); cognate with wort and radix. (Wiktionary)
From Middle English wrōten ("to dig with the snout"), from Old English wrōtan, from Proto-Germanic *to dig out, to root, from Proto-Indo-European *to scrape, to scratch, to gnaw. Cognate with rodent. Cognate with Dutch wroeten. (Wiktionary)
Possibly an alteration of rout ("to make a loud noise"), influenced by hoot (Wiktionary)

Examples

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Comments

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  • "the place where something begins, where it springs into being" *sgnigger*

    October 1, 2008

  • Delightful discussion about this term going on over at beetroot... And now that I think of it, is WeirdNet being lascivious again...?

    P.S. according to the 12th definition, we are all roots.

    October 1, 2008

  • My language increased and strengthened, and sent my mind into the place like a live root system. Wendell Berry "A Native Hill"

    July 19, 2008

  • Contronymic in the sense: take root vs. root out.

    January 31, 2007