Root & Synonym Clusters 2: “not” + root + (adj.) suffix

Lots of fancy SAT words are constructed with the basic formula, “not” + root + (adj.) suffix. Train yourself to look for 1) prefixes meaning “not” (like, “un,” “im,” “in,” “a,” and “ir”), 2) roots that you can identify or that look like other words you know, and 3) word endings that make for adjectives (like “ous,” “ate,” “ed,” and “al”).  Take, for example, “immutable.” The prefix “im” means “not” and the suffix “able” means “able to be.” The root “mut” is the same as that found in “mutation,” which means change (as in, change in the gene pool). So, “immutable” means unable to be changed, or permanent. Here’s a bunch of others that work the same way:


indelible-unable to be deleted, permanent

immutable-unable to be changed, unchanging

irrefutable-unable to be refuted, “undisprovable”

inscrutable-unable to be scrutinized, “unfigure-out-able”

interminable-unable to be terminated, lasting forever

infallible-unable to be faulted, perfect

inevitable-unable to be evaded/avoided, certain

innumerable-unable to be enumerated, countless

incessant-unable to cease, unending

dispassionate-without passion unprecedented-without precedent


Here’s a great rap by Josh Wagner to help you remember this frequently used formula: 

Click here to download the “not” + root + (adj.) suffix rap by Josh Wagner


Lyrics to the rap:


Lots of SAT words are constructed with a formula
It’s basic, just look at the clues with your cornea
Prefixes meaning “not” (like, “un,” “ir,” “in,” “a,” and “im”) start these words,
Yeah that’s a good thing to skim
Roots you can identify or that look like words that you know
And words that end like adjectives will close up the show
There’s a cluster of these words that relate, don’t you know
Just take a look at the blog posts, made by Dr. Yo
Yo, take, for example the word “immutable”:
The prefix “im” means “not” and the suffix “able” means “able to be.”
The root “mut” is the same as that found in “mutation,” which means “immutable” means unable to be changed, G. Indelible, rhymes with immutable, rhymes with interminable, which all mean that they’re perfect and unchangeable
Cuz “del” sounds like delete, unable to be deleted
And “termin” sounds like terminate, unable to be terminated
These words all fit this formula,
It’s infallible that means thats its perfect, this studying technique is valuable
Innumerable, there’s so many of these types of words its countless
They’re incessant, unable to be ceased,
It’s endless and now you don’t have to say these words are inscrutable or “unfigure-out-able” —
Because they are, listen to the rap again: you’ll be certain to do better on the test,
It’s inevitable, it’s irrefutable, this rap is disprovable
I hope this all helps,
I didn’t want to be dispassionate you know, passion
Unprecedented, without precedent yeah, you got it…
Now listen again and come back to this vocab list every now and then.

Click here for more Roots & Synonyms Clusters

and other posts and “PrepTalk” shows about vocab and vocab building

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