from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun 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.
  • noun Any of various other underground plant parts, especially an underground stem such as a rhizome, corm, or tuber.
  • noun The embedded part of an organ or structure such as a hair, tooth, or nerve, that serves as a base or support.
  • noun The bottom or supporting part of something.
  • noun The essential part or element; the basic core.
  • noun A primary source; an origin. synonym: origin.
  • noun A progenitor or ancestor from which a person or family is descended.
  • noun The condition of being settled and of belonging to a particular place or society.
  • noun The state of having or establishing an indigenous relationship with or a personal affinity for a particular culture, society, or environment.
  • noun 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.
  • noun Such an element reconstructed for a protolanguage.
  • noun 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.
  • noun A number that reduces a polynomial equation in one variable to an identity when it is substituted for the variable.
  • noun A number at which a polynomial has the value zero.
  • noun The note from which a chord is built.
  • noun Such a note occurring as the lowest note of a triad or other chord.
  • intransitive verb To grow roots or a root.
  • intransitive verb To become firmly established or settled.
  • intransitive verb To plant and fix the roots of (a plant) in soil or the ground.
  • intransitive verb To establish or settle firmly.
  • intransitive verb To be the source or origin of.
  • intransitive verb To dig or pull out by the roots. Often used with up or out.
  • intransitive verb To remove or get rid of. Often used with out.
  • idiom (root and branch) Utterly; completely.
  • intransitive verb To turn up by digging with the snout or nose.
  • intransitive verb To cause to appear or be known. Used with out.
  • intransitive verb To turn over the earth with the snout or nose.
  • intransitive verb To search or rummage for something.
  • intransitive verb To give audible encouragement or applause to a contestant or team; cheer. synonym: applaud.
  • intransitive verb To give moral support to someone; hope for a favorable outcome for someone.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • noun In botany, a part of the body of a plant which, typically, grows downward into the soil, fixes the plant, and absorbs nutriment.
  • noun Specifically, an esculent root, as a beet or a carrot.
  • noun That which resembles a root in shape, position, or function; that from which anything springs.
  • noun Hence— The bottom or lower part of anything; foundation.
  • noun The origin or cause of anything; source.
  • noun The basis of anything; ground; support.
  • noun 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.


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

[Middle English rot, from Old English rōt, from Old Norse; see wrād- in Indo-European roots.]

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

[Middle English wroten, from Old English wrōtan.]

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

[Possibly alteration of rout.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Possibly an alteration of rout ("to make a loud noise"), influenced by hoot

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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.


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

    January 31, 2007

  • 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

  • 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

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

    October 1, 2008