Vocab Builder: Centering on Greek Prefixes

In the last couple of Vocab Builders, we looked at Latin prefixes to help us learn more vocabulary because Latin has had such an influence on English. However, Greek is also a strong presence in English, so in the next two Vocab Builders we’ll look at Greek prefixes, starting with epi-, meaning in addition, above, or upon.

  • epicenter, noun: center point of something.

The state, which sits at the epicenter of the nation’s most intense seismic activity, has two oceanside nuclear-power plants near active faults (two of which were discovered only after the plants were built) and in the bull’s-eye of tsunamis barreling across the Pacific. —Newsweek

  • epigraph, noun: a witty statement that’s inscribed somewhere, such as on a building.

“War is a drug,” writes Christopher Hedges in the epigraph that precedes “The Hurt Locker.” —The Washington Post

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  • epoch, noun: a specific time in history.

We’ve had relatively few that trace influence the other way, Occident to Orient. (‘Royal Persian Painting: the Qajar Epoch, 1785-1925’ at the Brooklyn Museum a decade ago was a stellar exception.) —The New York Times

  • eponym, noun: a person after whom something is named.

The registered name of Thao, the little girl in the photo, was Hoang Yen, the eponym of her father’s gold shop. Michigan Quarterly Review

  • epidemic, noun: a quickly spreading outbreak of an infectious disease.

Just under 20 percent of Swaziland’s 1 million people are HIV positive, an epidemic fueled by poverty, a lack of medical resources, and a male-dominated and promiscuous culture in which polygamy is still common. —The Atlantic Monthly

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About Erin Brenner

With a BA and an MA in English, Erin has been an editing professional for 15 years, working on a variety of media, especially online. Her niche is business/marketing and online. In addition, she has experience teaching editing to non-editors and coaching writers. In 2008, Erin was bitten by the social media bug...hard. Follow her on Twitter, @ebrenner, and get a daily vocabulary word, a link to the article of the day, and much more. You can also find her on Facebook and LinkedIn.
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