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Some roots (1)
Some visible tree roots (1)


Etymology 1[edit]

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.


root ‎(plural roots)

  1. The part of a plant, generally underground, that anchors and supports the plant body, absorbs and stores water and nutrients, and in some plants is able to perform vegetative reproduction.
    This tree's roots can go as deep as twenty metres underground.
  2. A root vegetable.
    • 1945, George Orwell, Animal Farm, chapter 6
      [] two fields which should have been sown with roots in the early summer were not sown because the ploughing had not been completed early enough.
  3. The part of a tooth extending into the bone holding the tooth in place.
    Root damage is a common problem of overbrushing.
  4. The part of a hair under the skin that holds the hair in place.
    The root is the only part of the hair that is alive.
  5. The part of a hair near the skin that has not been dyed, permed, or otherwise treated.
    He dyed his hair black last month, so the grey roots can be seen.
  6. The primary source; origin.
    The love of money is the root of all evil.
    • John Locke
      They were the roots out of which sprang two distinct people.
  7. (arithmetic) Of a number or expression, a number which, when raised to a specified power, yields the specified number or expression.
    The cube root of 27 is 3.
  8. (arithmetic) A square root (understood if no power is specified; in which case, “the root of” is often abbreviated to “root”).
    Multiply by root 2.
  9. (analysis) A zero (of an equation).
  10. (graph theory, computing) The single node of a tree that has no parent.
  11. (linguistics) 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.
  12. (philology) A word from which another word or words are derived.
  13. (music) The fundamental tone of any chord; the tone from whose harmonics, or overtones, a chord is composed.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Busby to this entry?)
  14. The lowest place, position, or part.
    • Milton
      deep to the roots of hell
    • Southey
      the roots of the mountains
  15. (computing) 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.
  16. (computing) The person who manages accounts on a UNIX system.
  17. (computing) The highest directory of a directory structure which may contain both files and subdirectories.
  18. (slang) A penis, especially the base of a penis.
  • (zero of an equation): pole
  • (zero of a function): kernel
Derived terms[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.


root ‎(third-person singular simple present roots, present participle rooting, simple past and past participle rooted)

  1. (computing, slang, transitive) To break into a computer system and obtain root access.
    We rooted his box and planted a virus on it.
  2. To fix the root; to enter the earth, as roots; to take root and begin to grow.
    • Mortimer
      In deep grounds the weeds root deeper.
    • 2014 October 26, Jeff Howell, “Is the Japanese knotweed threat exaggerated? Our troubleshooter calls for calm about Japanese knotweed in the garden – and moss on the roof [print version: Don't panic about an overhyped invasion, 25 October 2014, p. P13]”[1], The Daily Telegraph (Property):
      Some old, underfired clay pantiles might be damaged by button mosses rooting in cracks and fissures. But most post-war tiles are hard enough to withstand a bit of moss growth.
  3. To be firmly fixed; to be established.
    • Bishop Fell
      If any irregularity chanced to intervene and to cause misapprehensions, he gave them not leave to root and fasten by concealment.

See also[edit]

  • (linguistics): stem

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English wrōten ‎(to dig with the snout), from Old English wrōtan, from Proto-Germanic *wrōtaną ‎(to dig out, to root), from Proto-Indo-European *red- ‎(to scrape, to scratch, to gnaw). Cognate with rodent. Cognate with Dutch wroeten.


root ‎(third-person singular simple present roots, present participle rooting, simple past and past participle rooted)

  1. (transitive) To turn up or dig with the snout.
    A pig roots the earth for truffles.
  2. (by extension) To seek favour or advancement by low arts or grovelling servility; to fawn.
  3. (intransitive) To rummage, to search as if by digging in soil.
    rooting about in a junk-filled drawer
  4. (transitive) To root out; to abolish.
    • Shakespeare
      I will go root away the noisome weeds.
    • Bible, Deuteronomy xxix. 28
      The Lord rooted them out of their land [] and cast them into another land.
  5. (Australia, New Zealand, vulgar, slang) To have sexual intercourse.
Usage notes[edit]
  • The Australian/New Zealand sexual sense is somewhat milder than fuck but still quite coarse, and certainly not for polite conversation. The sexual sense will often be understood, unless care is taken with the context to make the rummage sense clear, or 'root through' or 'root around' is used. The past participle rooted is equivalent to fucked in the figurative sense of broken or tired, but rooting is only the direct verbal sense, not an all-purpose intensive like fucking.
Derived terms[edit]


root ‎(plural roots)

  1. (Australia, New Zealand, vulgar, slang) An act of sexual intercourse.
    Fancy a root?
  2. (Australia, New Zealand, vulgar, slang) A sexual partner.
Usage notes[edit]
  • The Australian/New Zealand sexual sense of root is somewhat milder than fuck but still quite coarse, certainly not for polite conversation. The normal usage is to have a root or similar.

Etymology 3[edit]

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


root ‎(third-person singular simple present roots, present participle rooting, simple past and past participle rooted)

  1. (intransitive, with for, US) To cheer to show support for. [late 19th century]
  2. (transitive, US) To hope for the success of. Rendered as 'root for'.
    I'm rooting for you, don't let me down!


German Low German[edit]


From Old Saxon rōd, from Proto-Germanic *raudaz, from Proto-Indo-European *h₁rowdʰós < *h₁rewdʰ-. Compare Dutch rood, German rot, West Frisian read, English red, Danish rød.


root ‎(comparative röder, superlative röödst)

  1. red




root m (plural roots)

  1. (computing) root (user with complete access to the operating system)