Main definitions of root in English

: root1root2



  • 1The part of a plant which attaches it to the ground or to a support, typically underground, conveying water and nourishment to the rest of the plant via numerous branches and fibres.

    ‘cacti have deep and spreading roots’
    ‘a tree root’
    as modifier ‘root growth’
    • ‘She grunted as she hit the ground, a tree root digging into shoulder.’
    • ‘When planted, the underground portion forms roots and the above ground portion forms branches and leaves.’
    • ‘Don't plant trees with deep roots, especially invasive species such as willows.’
    • ‘This is the same process used by trees to carry water from their roots to their leaves.’
    • ‘But trees help control runoff by soaking water in through their roots and providing sturdy support against erosion.’
    • ‘Stumbling forward unsteadily, he tripped over a tree root and hit the ground face-first.’
    • ‘Wood is composed of bundles of microscopic tubes that were used to transport water from the roots of the tree to the leaves.’
    • ‘Where the path went over a root, steps were cut into the wood and passage along the path was easy.’
    • ‘The chickens were then brought to the edge of the stream and alongside a large tree which had its roots in the water.’
    • ‘Water at the roots will keep plant stems and leaves turgid and able to photosynthesize.’
    • ‘Her foot caught on a root and she fell head first down the hill they were descending.’
    • ‘My little brother finally stopped fighting me and sprinted ahead himself, tripping over a root and diving head first into the dirt.’
    • ‘It can grow in soil with limited moisture because of its ability to send roots deep into the soil to tap water there.’
    • ‘Rose looked behind herself to see that her foot had got caught in a root.’
    • ‘They help roots scavenge more nutrients and water from the soil in exchange for sugar to make the molecules they need to live and grow.’
    • ‘Her bare feet beat against the ground, stumbling over roots of the giant trees, until she came to a halt at the very center of the enormous trees.’
    • ‘He swore and kicked at the trunk as it caught on an upthrust root, then swore again as it jerked free and slammed into his shin.’
    • ‘I pulled myself onto the muddy bank with the tree roots and low hanging branches.’
    • ‘I thought of the liquid levels in the bottles as metaphors for the underground water table and the strings as the extended roots of plants finding water.’
    • ‘Miles suddenly staggered forward, his foot caught on a root.’
    radicle, rhizome, rootstock, tuber, tap root, rootlet
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 The persistent underground part of a plant, especially when fleshy and enlarged and used as a vegetable, e.g. a turnip or carrot.
      ‘you should never wash roots before storing’
      • ‘It is basically young ginger roots preserved in syrup, so I tried and reproduce something similar using first-of-the-season young ginger.’
      • ‘Leafy vegetables, roots, and fruits completed the traditional diet.’
      • ‘In a saucepan, add veal shanks, tongue, leeks, parsnips, celery root, garlic, red wine and veal stock.’
      • ‘Organisers also recognise ginger as ‘a root of empowerment in holistic medicine.’’
      • ‘These include turnips, cabbage, mustard, cassava root, soybeans, peanuts, pine nuts and millet.’
      • ‘Wash the roots and put them in a casserole dish with a lid.’
      • ‘There actually looked to be enough meat left on the bones of her rabbit to cut up and fry along with some roots she found while hunting to supply a basic breakfast.’
      • ‘A few sweet roots, parsnips, carrots and a stalk of celery will add flavour to the pan juices.’
      • ‘These taste best when eaten raw, with the exception of lotus root, which should be thinly sliced and steamed or stir-fried.’
      • ‘In this street market, celeriac, parsley root, arugula and frisée were available.’
      • ‘Add the onions and parsley root and sauté until translucent.’
      • ‘In two medium saucepans, sauté the carrots and celery root with two tablespoons of butter separately.’
      • ‘First, there are the crisp, watery roots, such as carrots, jicama, radishes, and lotus root.’
      • ‘Add the carrot, celery root, onions, apples, and paprika and sauté until soft.’
      • ‘Parsnips also make a wonderful soup and terrific fritters, and their long, blond roots are irresistible if roasted until the skinny tails scorch to a crisp.’
      • ‘From the mid-16th century suckets were made in Britain from local fruits, vegetables, and roots of many kinds.’
      • ‘Outside the cavern I had viewed various edible herbs and plants such as onions and turnips as well as roots and grasses.’
      • ‘Women gathered roots, prairie turnips, bitterroot, and camas bulbs in the early summer.’
      • ‘Reduce the heat, add the carrots, celeriac, leeks, and parsley root and simmer until tender, about three hours.’
      • ‘Even the accompanying potato and turnip gratin play off tuber and root, the warmth of one, the tang of the other.’
    2. 1.2 Any plant grown for its root.
      ‘roots like beet and carrot cannot be transplanted’
      • ‘Millie picked up a piece of mandrake root and broke it.’
      • ‘This way, when you buy some valerian root or St. John's wort, you'll know if there are any adverse reactions that you could get by using the herbal medication.’
      • ‘Licorice root happens to look just like an old cheroot cigarette.’
      • ‘Just when we thought you couldn't screw-up chocolate, someone goes and adds things like ginkgo biloba and bilberry root.’
      • ‘Beer made from manioc root is offered, and the family meal is shared.’
      • ‘Sarsaparilla root contains saponins, which reduce microbes and toxins.’
      • ‘Both echinacea and goldenseal root have natural antibiotic activity and are extremely safe, when used as indicated on the label.’
      • ‘The diet of rural residents is based on the cassava root, which is called mandioca in Portuguese.’
      • ‘In three small studies, men taking nettle root reported slightly better urine flow than men who were given a placebo.’
    3. 1.3 The embedded part of a bodily organ or structure such as a hair, tooth, or nail.
      ‘her hair was fairer at the roots’
      • ‘Vitamins A, C and E facilitate the normal shedding of dead cells, and most B vitamins feed follicles and hair roots.’
      • ‘Even his hair and teeth clung to their roots, unlike the others who suffered from malnutrition.’
      • ‘Start at the crown of your head, then flip your head upside down and lift your hair at the roots with your fingers.’
      • ‘The brush-on pearlised colors in four shades are best applied on long hair when strands are held together and color stroked on from the root to the tip.’
      • ‘She could feel the rough fingers gently cupping her neck and touching the roots of her hair.’
      • ‘The shoulders of the young man lurched upwards in an irregular motion and his brows arched to the roots of his hair as he stared at his father.’
      • ‘Only later did the penny drop that there weren't enough molars to match the worn milk teeth, and that the roots of the teeth had resorbed to the point that indicated they had been shed naturally.’
      • ‘He had short hair with brown roots and blonde tips and I'd have noted his eye color but he didn't look at me for very long and I hadn't been close enough to tell.’
      • ‘I'd just sit in the little cuticle and chew my nails down to the roots, not caring if they put me in one of those straitjackets.’
      • ‘Her head turned to the vanity mirror, eyeing the blond roots of her hair that were growing in.’
      • ‘His two-toned blond hair with black roots was falling over his eyes and he tried to blow it upwards and out of his eyes, failing miserably.’
      • ‘The scarring types produce scars, which affect the hair root and destroy the papilla or matrix.’
      • ‘His lofty glance seemed to measure her from the roots of her hair to the tips of her toes, leaving the girl stifling with self-consciousness.’
      • ‘Severe flaking results from sebaceous glands, which are the glands near the roots of our hair.’
      • ‘He was a middle aged man of Chinese origin, his hair greying at the roots and his body starting the road to terminal shutdown many years from then.’
      • ‘The root of the hair extends down into the follicle and widens into a bulb at its base, which is the center of hair growth.’
      • ‘While electrolysis sounds more threatening, the premise behind this method is that a needle zaps the hair at its root and kills it.’
      • ‘Waxing, on the other hand, pulls the entire hair out from the root.’
      • ‘I feel Mother's cold smile, her fingers releasing Nikola and his face relaxing when the roots of his hairs snap back into place in his skin.’
      • ‘She had blonde hair from her roots to her shoulders, then the color drastically changed like a person playing two different characters in a play.’
    4. 1.4 The part of a thing attaching it to a greater or more fundamental whole; the end or base.
      ‘a little lever near the root of the barrel’
      ‘they disappeared from sight behind the root of the crag’
      • ‘A little deviation, and you will hit the spinal cord or the nerve root or damage the pedicle that supports the screw.’
      • ‘When they experience pain in the middle of the night in bed or while sitting, this is due to interference in circulation to the nerve root and spinal cords where it has been compressed.’
  • 2The basic cause, source, or origin of something.

    ‘money is the root of all evil’
    ‘jealousy was at the root of it’
    as modifier ‘the root cause of the problem’
    • ‘The old saying, ‘Money is the root of all evil,’ came back to haunt her.’
    • ‘There are endemic and perhaps diverse reasons at the root of inflation.’
    • ‘To Kaitlin, he looked like the root of all her nightmares.’
    • ‘Pain is definitely at the root of weight gain for me.’
    • ‘That, I guess, is the root of my fascination with this era.’
    • ‘As no doctor could help, he began to examine himself in mirrors, eventually concluding that faulty postural habits lay at the root of his problem.’
    • ‘The forces that shape history have their roots in the most basic conditions of social and economic life.’
    • ‘If I had not experienced some degree of disappointment and been determined to find the root cause, I may not have gained important knowledge about myself.’
    • ‘Technological innovation is an important source of variation in organizations and, in turn, a root of organizational adaptation.’
    • ‘But the desire for power comes from envy which is the root cause of all evil.’
    • ‘‘It is a complex issue that goes to the root of sexual health matters,’ she says.’
    • ‘Kurosawa draws the best possible performances from these actors by staying true to the source's roots as a play.’
    • ‘This is very much a global liquidity crisis in the works, with unprecedented leveraged speculation at the root of the unfolding financial debacle.’
    • ‘While money is supposedly the root of all evil, the wealthy are much less likely to argue about money than most folks.’
    • ‘Prejudice seems to be the chief root of discrimination.’
    • ‘At root, their differences reflected wildly divergent political perspectives, as well as contending visions of the future.’
    • ‘Sexual drive is at the root of humanity, and it is extremely resilient at the worst of times.’
    • ‘Perspectives are the root, the basic fiber, and the foundation of every social plague impoverishing us.’
    • ‘Charlie had dealt with the root of his anger problem.’
    • ‘‘Failure to address added services at the point of origin is the root of payment failure,’ he says.’
    source, origin, starting point, seed, germ, beginnings, genesis
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1roots Family, ethnic, or cultural origins.
      ‘it's always nice to return to my roots’
      • ‘This was somewhat ironic, as I know for a fact that my family once had its roots in the moors of England as well, and that we were one of the wealthier families and reviled by many.’
      • ‘English cultural roots lie in a merging of Anglo-Saxon, Danish, and Norman French culture that has existed as a synthesis since the late Middle Ages.’
      • ‘Dictators and other political powers often suppress art because it provides a point of critical resistance, building a new national identity by evoking cultural roots.’
      • ‘Joey had curly brown hair and was as dark as an African American, but his family roots originate from Spain.’
      • ‘You'll probably need to learn a lot more about each other's religious and ethnic roots, as well as introduce your children to a host of varied rituals.’
      • ‘They and their families have their historical roots in the original villages.’
      • ‘Many Sansei long to know more about their cultural roots, although the ways of their grandparents are alien to them.’
      • ‘Colonization broke the power of the traditional rulers, but social status is still partially determined by a person's family roots.’
      • ‘After a few aimless years of drifting, he tries to find and establish ethnic roots similar to his own in order to rekindle the principles his father tried to instill in him.’
      • ‘People's sense of their cultural roots - a recognition of a place having a strong patina of age and strong local identity - is often instinctive.’
      • ‘It's about my background and about roots, family, music and manhood.’
      • ‘I want to hold on to my roots, my origins, my family, my friends.’
      • ‘With her memory of the past, their aunt serves as the instrument of a gendered return to their ethnic roots carried out in strongly ambivalent terms.’
      • ‘Either he must assimilate in order to succeed or he must forego success for his ethnic roots and familial ties.’
      • ‘In the broad Canadian scene, a diverse group of Baptists with different theological or ethnic roots has emerged.’
      • ‘Their region had most of the nation's industries, and their French cultural roots were considered an advantage.’
      • ‘As artists it is important that we be free no matter what our racial and ethnic roots are - to find and define and follow our aesthetic.’
      • ‘So most nationals prefer not to talk about their cultural roots and very often do not even know their ancestral tree.’
      • ‘Children living on the street, the lack of family roots, and an increase in crime have brought tremendous social stresses to Latin American countries.’
      • ‘Many Americans of Bulgarian descent are re-discovering their ethnic roots.’
      origins, beginnings, family, ancestors, predecessors
      View synonyms
    2. 2.2as modifier roots Denoting or relating to something from a particular ethnic or cultural origin, especially a non-Western one.
      ‘roots music’
      • ‘Offered without sound but backed by the movie's manic bump and grind roots rock, they grow dull quickly.’
      • ‘It's hard enough for most British bands to capture that roots vibe without sounding phoney or just plain ridiculous, but they pull it off and keep their own unique character too.’
      • ‘Paul thought he would give this roots business one more chance.’
      • ‘It is not awful, but its steady flow of roots rock near-misses is, at the very least, disheartening.’
      • ‘After signing with Zoë, a division of roots label Rounder, they returned re-energized with Open in 2001.’
      • ‘For 10 years running, VP Records annually pumps out compilations that pull from their massive dancehall and roots reggae catalogue.’
      • ‘With their previous two albums, they had become the darlings of the roots rock scene.’
      • ‘One song was roots rock, the next featured reggae backbeats.’
      • ‘The stage, however, plays host not to righteous roots reggae or foam-mouthed punk rock, but to a scattered group of girls in school uniform.’
      • ‘As the show ended and fans filed to the exits only one thing was missing from this roots reverie - just a little more time.’
      • ‘Bilyeu, along with his brother and cousins, play in Big Smith, a mountain roots band that bridge the gap between traditional Appalachian gospel and modern country.’
      • ‘Their seminal blend of jazz, Afro-Cuban music and roots traditions continues to influence modern West and Central African music.’
      • ‘But that's not the typical response to this countrified roots rock.’
      • ‘His output was a fusion of everything good in music at the time - chunky punk guitar, killer pop tunes and horns and baselines with a deep ska / roots influence.’
      • ‘Walford Tyson's plaintive, soulful voice floats over deep roots grooves, sweet chord changes and juicy horn stabs; the production is warm, deep and crisp.’
    3. 2.3 (in biblical use) a scion; a descendant.
      ‘the root of David’
    4. 2.4Linguistics A morpheme, not necessarily surviving as a word in itself, from which words have been made by the addition of prefixes or suffixes or by other modification.
      ‘many European words stem from this linguistic root’
      as modifier ‘the root form of the word’
      • ‘Words combine with words, or prefixes and suffixes combine with roots, in ways that over time drift away from perfect sense.’
      • ‘It's pretty clear, based on Green's paper-doll explanation, that the root morpheme must have been puppet.’
      • ‘Significantly, the root of bahelawi is bahel, meaning culture.’
      • ‘I do not intend ‘rational’, in this sense, but, rather, in the sense of its Latin root, ratio, meaning reason.’
      • ‘So, Eskimoan languages are really extraordinary in their productive word-building capability, for any root you might pick.’
    5. 2.5Music The fundamental note of a chord.
      ‘in the sequence the roots of the chords drop by fifths’
      • ‘Where there is no figure under a note, the convention is that this denotes the most common chord, which Mr Protheroe describes as a root-position chord; i.e a triad with a root note, the third above and the fifth above.’
      • ‘I have an idea of the flavour now - the root note of the melody, gently picked electric guitar, a line or two of vocals.’
      • ‘This is all captured in the toy sax sound that just honks the root note as if someone who can't really play the sax has been given one lesson and one take to give it their best shot.’
      • ‘He's just about incompetent whenever he tries anything but the root of the chord, so it's not like we're getting much help from that side, either.’
      • ‘Smith's multitracked trumpets mimic the weary blare of the foghorns, often taking their pitches as the root notes for fantastic chords.’
  • 3Mathematics
    A number or quantity that when multiplied by itself, typically a specified number of times, gives a specified number or quantity.

    • ‘It's hard enough trying to remember cubed roots and the average lifespan of an amoeba.’
    1. 3.1
      short for square root
    2. 3.2 A value of an unknown quantity satisfying a given equation.
      ‘the roots of the equation differ by an integer’
  • 4Computing
    often as modifier A user account with full and unrestricted access to a system.

    ‘make sure that these files can only be accessed by the root user’
    ‘I need to log in as root on my system to resolve an issue’
    • ‘The root account allows the user to perform any command and access any data.’
    • ‘The greatest threat to a typical Linux installation, in my opinion, is a careless root user.’
    • ‘I logged in as root and created an account for myself.’
    • ‘Run this command either with your normal user ID or as root; no command-line options are necessary.’
    • ‘Log on to the system as a user with root authority.’
  • 5NZ Irish Australian vulgar slang An act of sexual intercourse.

    1. 5.1with adjective A sexual partner of a specified ability.


[with object]
  • 1Cause (a plant or cutting) to grow roots.

    ‘root your own cuttings from stock plants’
    • ‘They are the easiest rose to start from seed, and also the easiest to root from cuttings.’
    • ‘When using the second method for rooting hardwood cuttings of deciduous plants you do everything exactly the same as you do with method number one, up to the point where you bury them for the winter.’
    • ‘To keep a variety indefinitely, root a few stem cuttings every year.’
    • ‘An easy way to overwinter desirable varieties is to root cuttings in the fall.’
    • ‘It's a good time to root stem cuttings so you will have new plants for the garden next spring.’
    • ‘They are easily rooted from cuttings, so I rarely bother gathering seeds from them.’
    • ‘About six months after you have rooted your cutting, you can transplant it directly into the garden, if you choose.’
    • ‘I have successfully rooted plumeria branches broken from my plants.’
    • ‘The best way to propagate your favorites is to root stem cuttings taken from your own plants in spring.’
    • ‘A Yoshino cherry is propagated by grafting a cutting onto another cherry trunk or by rooting small cuttings.’
    • ‘The earlier the cuttings are rooted the taller will be the blooming plants.’
    • ‘To prepare an area in which to root cuttings you must first select a site.’
    • ‘I cut it back to bring indoors and rooted the cuttings.’
    • ‘Take geranium cuttings of two to four inches to root indoors.’
    • ‘I've heard of people rooting rose cuttings, but have never succeeded at it.’
    • ‘There are three different techniques for rooting cuttings of deciduous plants.’
    • ‘With all of that said, today it is possible to grow Pink Dogwoods by rooting cuttings under intermittent mist.’
    plant, bed out, sow
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1no object (of a plant or cutting) establish roots.
      ‘large trees had rooted in the canal bank’
      • ‘These include the ability of mother plants to produce plenty of wood, the ease with which cuttings root, and also the ease with which they can be grafted.’
      • ‘The pool's dark surface is patterned with the reflection of a few bare trees that appear to be rooted within and just beyond the pool itself.’
      • ‘Now is the right time of year to take cuttings of rosemary which roots very easily in sand.’
      • ‘Thicker layers may reduce the amount of oxygen in the soil and encourage plants to root in the mulch layer rather than in the soil.’
      • ‘Cluster-forming bulbous plants, such as daffodils, can be split after they have rooted a few years.’
      • ‘The system includes a root-repellent membrane to prevent plants from rooting in the roof, a drainage system and a growing medium that is lighter than the soil used on the ground.’
      • ‘Once the stem has rooted it can be cut free of the mother plant.’
      • ‘Supply high humidity, warmth and light in order for the cuttings to root within four to five weeks.’
      • ‘And remember, trees growing in lawns are rooted in the same soil as the grass and rarely require separate nitrogen fertilizer programs.’
      • ‘The resulting soil is loose and fast draining, which encourages plants to root deeply, well away from the desiccating heat at the surface.’
      • ‘The dome will keep the stems from drying out until the plant is rooted.’
      • ‘At the time the young plant, having rooted, is placed in a pot, where it will remain for some two to three months.’
      • ‘Because it is busy rooting, any growth that you may have seen on the bulb will slow down until the plant is rooted - so don't panic of things seem to come to a dead halt.’
      • ‘Severe fires incinerate duff and all plants rooted there.’
      • ‘Dryland corn is rooting at the three foot depth and, even with high temperatures and lack of precipitation, it is looking good.’
      • ‘I had a sudden premonition of the proud tower reduced to a pile of rubble overgrown by the plants that had rooted in its mossy crevices.’
      • ‘Once the succulents are rooted (in four weeks), he transfers them to pots or garden beds.’
      • ‘Begin mowing when the lawn is firmly rooted, a month or two after planting.’
      • ‘The cuttings root very easily in sand or in a rooting medium.’
      • ‘Keep moist and a high percentage of the cuttings will root in four to five weeks.’
      take root, grow roots, become established, establish, strike, take
      View synonyms
  • 2Establish deeply and firmly.

    ‘vegetarianism is rooted in Indian culture’
    • ‘While his intentions are deeply rooted in exploring black masculinity, the context of his work becomes part of a larger dialogue concerning race in America today.’
    • ‘Perceived as gender-neutral, these practices were rooted in old, idealised images of masculinity.’
    • ‘Swearing is rooted in the discourse of mortality.’
    • ‘Such an approach has often been taken to be a break with the past, but is rooted in more than two millennia of logical and grammatical system-building.’
    • ‘While indigo is no longer a tool of oppression, it is still an area rooted in fiefdom and intolerance.’
    • ‘The ultimate effect is the emerging sense of values that resonates from these stories rooted in the delicate areas of modern life.’
    • ‘Arthur is presented as a multifaceted figure, not one rooted in any particular area or with obvious historical roots.’
    • ‘‘We are rooted in the worlds of art and culture,’ she says.’
    • ‘Violence against women is a complex issue as it is rooted in masculinist structures of power.’
    • ‘If it succeeds, the core will no longer be rooted in just one civilization (the West), but will span several continents in a global network of power and prosperity.’
    • ‘The whole essence of a gentleman is rooted in inequality.’
    • ‘There, the death penalty is rooted in popular culture (even to the present).’
    • ‘The images suggested that the progress made by African Americans after the Civil War was rooted in the process of Americanization itself.’
    • ‘Christianity, even as the dominant religion, has always had strains that cut against the mainstream, while still being rooted in and influenced by the culture and society of a particular time and place.’
    • ‘Yet government-encouraged efforts to root Protestantism in Welsh culture were paying off by the end of the century.’
    • ‘It is a paradox that Augustine would not have accepted, but it is rooted in the pragmatic imagination as a workable metaphysics.’
    • ‘As a result, the design is rooted in two quite different yet familiar building types - the cottage and the loft.’
    • ‘Third, the acceptance of despotic rule and the rejection of effective constitutional limitations on government are deeply rooted in tradition and religion.’
    • ‘After all, it is deeply rooted in discrimination.’
    • ‘Mental illness was rooted in a loss of existential freedom, leading to alienation and social exclusion.’
    embedded, fixed, firmly established, implanted
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1be rooted in Have as an origin or cause.
      ‘the Latin verb is rooted in an Indo-European word’
      • ‘His concerns were rooted in society, not theology.’
      • ‘His humour and his mad, mad giggle were rooted in an irreverence that couldn't let him take anything too seriously - especially himself.’
      • ‘Together, they harness decades of experience in a variety of styles to make a musical statement that is rooted in tradition but with no fear of improvisation.’
      • ‘Those strange new paintings were rooted in the Maori figurative traditions that emerged on the East Coast in the late 19th century.’
      • ‘His work was rooted in a landscape, religion and a rural way of life.’
      • ‘The origins of the new disaster were rooted in Menem's years.’
      • ‘No, the whole lack of pre-marriage activity (to be blunt: the total lack of a social life) was what my puzzlement was rooted in.’
      • ‘The origins of convivial practices on the mainland appear to have been rooted in the private sphere of elite social values, which emphasized generosity and hospitality in the framework of direct, reciprocal transactions.’
      • ‘Who I am now is rooted in where I began and has been developed by where I have been since, and to ask my fromness is to ask my identity.’
      • ‘So when, during a lecture on D.H. Lawrence, Bill mentioned that the writer's sexual problems were rooted in his relationship with his mother, there was dead silence.’
      • ‘The ideological context of these exchanges over public policy is rooted in, and sustained by, references to the past.’
      • ‘Their method of art practice was rooted in political protest that rejected the more readily legible and democratic tropes of social realism.’
      • ‘My beef, as it would be, is rooted in your first two sentences.’
      • ‘Food and farming, after all, are rooted in living plants and animals.’
      • ‘Panofsky's contention that Van Eyck literally painted a marriage certificate was rooted in two early accounts of the picture.’
      • ‘Many of these clinical problems are already recognized as being rooted in, or exacerbated by, stress; it is Sarno's association of these disease entities with repressed rage that makes his theory unique.’
      • ‘This abstract world gains its power from being rooted in very real emotions and anxieties that have haunted cinema since The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, another powerful film about the fragile nature of identity in the face of fantasy.’
      • ‘And part of our decision-making about what to publish and what to pursue is rooted in those unanswered questions.’
      • ‘This social gaze is rooted in and reinforces moral assumptions that link being a good mother to caring and being a good father to earning.’
      • ‘With him abstract work came from within, while figurative work and even abstraction from nature were rooted in external stimuli.’
  • 3often as adjective rooted Cause (someone) to stand immobile through fear or amazement.

    ‘she found herself rooted to the spot in disbelief’
    • ‘Lizzie didn't know what to do, she was as surprised as he, and her feet seemed rooted to the ground.’
    • ‘Then he stopped at the last cage, rooted to the ground in shock.’
    • ‘Stunned at this cover-up, I was rooted to the spot.’
    • ‘I stood rooted to the ground, not knowing how or what to react to my current feeling.’
    • ‘The four other students stood rooted to the spot.’
    • ‘But for some reason she couldn't move, as though she were rooted to the spot.’
    • ‘But her feet seemed rooted to the ground and the spectacle of that great, angry crowd tearing towards her paralysed her with terror.’
    • ‘Torn by conflicting emotions, I stood rooted to the spot.’
    • ‘It will root you in your seat, when it doesn't have you on the edge of it, or leaping up and cheering.’
    • ‘Lizzie didn't touch her jacket; she was frozen, rooted to her seat, trapped in a strange coma-like state.’
    • ‘Waiting until the snake was only a foot or two away, while I stood rooted to the ground with fright, he took careful aim at it, and missed - twice.’
    • ‘He was momentarily speechless, rooted to the ground in the middle of the spacious air conditioned bedroom.’
    • ‘We stood rooted to the spot, staring at each other.’
    • ‘She froze in place, her arms and legs locking together, her feet rooted to the ground.’
    • ‘As it was, I stood rooted to the spot with shock and it missed.’
    • ‘I feel like I should go running after the little girl, but suddenly I'm rooted to the spot.’
    • ‘Like a cornered animal, she remained rooted in place, gripping her purse.’
    • ‘I felt as though cold water had just been dumped over my head, shocking me and rooting me to the spot.’
    • ‘May was inching slowly closer to David, who stood rooted to the spot.’
    • ‘His only thoughts were to escape, but fear rooted him to the spot.’
    unable to move from, frozen to, riveted to, paralysed to, glued to, fixed to
    View synonyms
  • 4Computing
    Gain access to the root account of (a smartphone or computer)

    ‘we explained how to manually root almost any Android device’
    • ‘The proportion of people who want to recompile their phone OS is even smaller than the number who want to root their phone.’
    • ‘If I want to root my device, there's a very small chance that it's because I want to copy a movie, and a good chance that I want to take a screenshot of my widget setup, or play with a faster ROM.’
    • ‘Before you can start to do anything to your phone, you'll need to root it, which means basically to unlock the security settings put in place in the OS to prevent it from being altered.’
    • ‘I personally cannot wait to root the phone and run custom ROMs.’
    • ‘The program allows you to customize your user interface without having to root the device.’
  • 5NZ Irish Australian vulgar slang Have sexual intercourse with.

    1. 5.1 Exhaust (someone) or frustrate their efforts.
      ‘grab a pew—you must be rooted’


  • at root

    • Basically; fundamentally.

      ‘it is a moral question at root’
      • ‘Those of us pining for the sensuality of the tropical island often forget that paradise is, at root, a religious notion.’
      • ‘Despite the length of my approach to it the question is, at root, quite a short one.’
      • ‘But these are cavils and, at root, only the difference between fact and a greater, truth-telling fiction.’
      • ‘Psychoanalysis defines subjectivity as ‘the history of one's identifications,’ which are at root violent and subject to inversion.’
      • ‘And let's not get into the limitations of narrative structure and formulas of what makes a good story, since, of course, they're fairly archetypal (that is, repetitive) at root.’
      • ‘But because the subordination is inspired at root by anxiety and denial, it is not a peaceable subordination.’
      • ‘Ignoring the physical, technological underpinnings for now, we assert that the library is, at root, a collection of information selected for use of, and made useable for, a particular community.’
      • ‘They don't exist independently of their sources; they are a direct reflection of source activity - and therefore, at root, a tediously self-fulfilling prophecy.’
      • ‘But there is at root here something far more fundamental.’
      • ‘And if in spite or because of new learning people still inhabit that universe then it's going to have a very profound effect on whether you accept at root the fundamental principles of western psychology for dealing with your problems.’
  • get rooted

    • vulgar slang often in imperativeGo away (used as an expression of anger or impatience)

      ‘anyone who disagrees can go and get rooted’
  • put down roots

    • 1(of a plant) begin to draw nourishment from the soil through its roots.

      • ‘Some varieties, however, will spend their first year putting down roots vis-a-vis growing stems and flowers.’
      1. 1.1(of a person) begin to have a settled life in a particular place.
        ‘I think it's time I put down some roots’
        ‘they have married, put down roots’
        • ‘Or is it something much more ephemeral, a sense of comfort, of forming bonds and putting down roots in an alien landscape?’
        • ‘Against this background, amid this natural wonder, men have chosen to settle themselves and put down roots.’
        • ‘We stayed, bought a house and started a family, happy to be putting down roots in such a lovely city.’
        • ‘More than 1,300 a week may visit the site, but of those, only 530 bothered to sign up to request further information on the possibilities and practicalities of putting down roots in Scotland.’
        • ‘You think they're not talking about it, but they are putting down roots.’
        • ‘The olive oil produced here is world-class, and Britons in search of la dolce vita are putting down roots in the area.’
        • ‘World War II wrought the second transformation, when defence industries began putting down roots.’
        • ‘If the parents who turned up for the talk are a snap shot of the families which are putting down roots in Newbridge, then the school building and its surroundings are also a microcosm of the booming town.’
        • ‘In putting down roots, we decide where we want to be buried.’
        • ‘Temporary visas mean life in limbo, with no prospect of family reunion or settling, and putting down roots.’
        settle, become established, establish oneself, make one's home, set up home
        View synonyms
  • root and branch

    • Used to express the thorough or radical nature of a process or operation.

      ‘root-and-branch reform of personal taxation’
      • ‘This show demonstrates the determination of these artists not simply to rewrite the rules of fine art, but to recreate every aspect of their visual world, root and branch.’
      • ‘The place really is in dire need of root and branch reform.’
      • ‘We need a council of the Church that includes both the laity and the bishops and the clergy to get at this problem root and branch.’
      • ‘While one might want to ridicule a particular expression of curiosity, he would be careful of dismissing curiosity root and branch.’
      • ‘Pakistan, which is not a member of this grouping, has also been expressing its resolve to destroy the menace root and branch.’
      • ‘This, of course, is a post hoc error, one that most Americans reject, root and branch.’
      • ‘But there is another possibility altogether: An individual or a community may entirely reject its own visceral code, root and branch, for the sake of what it has come to see as an ethically superior plane of existence.’
      • ‘Mr Davis takes issue with this claim root and branch.’
      • ‘The United States and other countries should be working to eradicate it, root and branch.’
      • ‘You see, when someone attacks our caravans, we go after 'em root and branch.’
      completely, entirely, wholly, totally, utterly, thoroughly
      complete, total, entire, utter, thorough
      View synonyms
  • root someone's boot

    • vulgar slang An exclamation of exasperation.

      ‘root my boot, what a night’
  • strike at the root (or roots) of

    • Affect in a vital area with potentially destructive results.

      ‘the proposals struck at the roots of community life’
      • ‘Taken to the limit, of course, this line of reasoning would strike at the root of all empirical knowledge.’
      • ‘But, he went on to say that the recent events ‘are of far greater concern because they strike at the roots of our free society, one aspect of which is our market-driven economy’.’
      • ‘This is a poverty that strikes at the root of national prosperity.…’
      • ‘Connective aesthetics strikes at the root of this alienation by dissolving the mechanical division between self and the world that has prevailed during the modern epoch.’
      • ‘The objective is to strike at the root of psychosomatic problems.’
      • ‘The elimination of the peasants' opposition, therefore, struck at the roots of the October Revolution.’
      • ‘Others had more strident critiques of American society and envisioned radical social changes that struck at the root of inequality.’
      • ‘Always suspicious to the point of paranoia, Constantius struck at the roots of conspiracy.’
      • ‘I see the ability to be alone in the wild as an achievement, something truly radical that strikes at the root of our increasingly presumptuous levels of socialization.’
      • ‘The Attorney-General's contention, if correct, strikes at the root of this basic principle.’
  • take root

    • 1(of a plant) begin to grow and draw nourishment from the soil through its roots.

      • ‘Cotton was to have been the establishing crop of the Ord development, and it took root robustly.’
      • ‘It spread over the floor with a fecund exuberance that brought to mind cypress vines, plants that take root wherever they touch the ground.’
      • ‘Samphire extract is derived from the Samphire plant that takes root and thrives in rocky coastal areas.’
      • ‘The living roof itself is a compost based system, usually a base of straw left to decompose within which native or introduced plants can then take root.’
      • ‘The scattered seeds take root and grow to their full potential.’
      • ‘With wear, the soles release seeds, some of which take root and clean the environment through phytoremediation, a process by which certain natural plants can destroy hazardous contaminants in the ground.’
      • ‘Over time, the ivy will take root in the moss, and will continue to grow, so you'll need to continue pinning the ivy to the moss as it grows, and maybe cut it back if it starts to take over.’
      • ‘Others spread aggressively by stolons (stems that creep along the soil surface, taking root and forming new plants at intervals).’
      • ‘Still, there are signs that the field is beginning to take root.’
      • ‘A shallow, bleached pit in the center marks the spot where a cluster of trees once took root.’
      begin to germinate, begin to sprout, establish, strike, take
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1Become fixed or established.
        ‘the idea had taken root in my mind’
        • ‘I quickly stomped on that idea before it fully took root.’
        • ‘Nevertheless, the idea took root in their minds.’
        • ‘Because he had little to say about social need and there was no legislative provision for subsidising loss-making services, the idea took root that the issue had simply been ignored.’
        • ‘Spatial sequences merging across the shifting levels prevent fixed identities from taking root anywhere.’
        • ‘Democracy took root by fits and starts thereafter, until 1990 when a new constitution restored constitutional monarchy and established a multi-party system of parliamentary government, which is now firmly in place.’
        • ‘Of course, generations of American thinkers had fertilized the soil in which Coué's ideas took root.’
        • ‘As these ideas took root, they were accompanied by a change in philosophy regarding the ruler and the subject.’
        • ‘Hence, petrarchismo never took root in Milan; even when Arcadian poetics held sway in Bologna and Rome in the eighteenth century, dialect poetry was prominent in Milan.’
        • ‘Our tour guide was exceptional, explaining the economic and political changes that had swept over Honduras since democracy took root.’
        • ‘Predictably, that opening rang the death knell for our store, which sat empty until a flea market took root behind the by-then broken and boarded windows, while the parking lot became a haven for drug deals.’
        become established, establish itself, become fixed, take hold
        View synonyms

Phrasal Verbs

  • root something out

    • 1Dig or pull up a plant by the roots.

      ‘they are rooting up hawthorn bushes’
      ‘they make a mess, root up plants and flowers’
      • ‘If you fail to root it out, however, you find five the next day… fifty the day after that… and then, my brothers and sisters, your lawn is totally, completely, and profligately covered with dandelions.’
      • ‘He was told to root the plants out immediately.’
      uproot, tear something up by the roots, pull something up, grub something out
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1Find and get rid of someone or something pernicious or dangerous.
        ‘a campaign to root out corruption’
        • ‘Typos appear in virtually every book, and it's up to the proofreaders and typesetters to root them out.’
        • ‘Until they can be rooted out, hopes for lasting peace will have hardly advanced at all.’
        • ‘The local authorities have to do the main job of finding these gangs and rooting them out.’
        • ‘The sooner they are rooted out and dealt with the sooner we may be able to curtail what is now a worrying trend.’
        • ‘A whole rethink and development of policies which will put the nation on the road to economic recovery is necessary, so that poverty can be rooted out.’
        • ‘Basically, the government should get tougher with those who send such e-mails for their own profits and a national campaign should be launched until the evil practice is rooted out.’
        • ‘Rome abhorred the practice and rooted it out when encountered among others, although when writing of the Druidic rituals of the Celts and the taking of heads for trophies they probably exaggerated for propaganda purposes.’
        • ‘If there are anti-competitive practices in the professions which are hurting consumers and damaging our economy then we must identify them and root them out.’
        • ‘He urged the taxi industry to forge close links with the police so that these elements could be rooted out once and for all.’
        • ‘Our goal is to help our readers recognize this aberrant species of leader, effectively deal with them, and then hopefully root them out of the workplace.’
        • ‘In line with this policy, they handed her over to be tried as a witch by a combination of a Church Court and the Holy Roman Inquisition, set up to maintain the absolute divine authority of the Church by rooting out all heresy.’
        • ‘After decades of struggle by activists the government finally accepted that institutional racism exists and promised that it would root it out of public bodies.’
        • ‘We can all do our part to defend against them and to root them out.’
        • ‘There were pockets of corruption, but our efforts to root it out are beginning to yield results.’
        • ‘We will either root it out and extinguish it wherever it may hide, or it will find us and strip us of our safety, happiness and everything we cherish.’
        • ‘One-in-three claiming to have been hit by untraced drivers drop their claims upon investigation by the bureau - 400 dodgy claims are rooted out in the initial stages of investigation every year.’
        • ‘With frightening swiftness, nearly all enemy agents inside Confederation borders were rooted out, systematically hunted down, and then eliminated.’
        • ‘If he doesn't present himself, we're going to root him out, and we'll defeat him in kind that way.’
        • ‘But the breadth of corruption makes the challenge of rooting it out more difficult.’
        • ‘He once said, ‘The country will see no hope if regional grudges are not rooted out.’’
        eradicate, get rid of, eliminate, weed out, remove, destroy, put an end to, do away with, wipe out, stamp out, extirpate, abolish, extinguish
        unearth, dig up, dig out, turn up, bring to light, uncover, discover, dredge up, ferret out, hunt out, nose out, expose
        View synonyms


Late Old English rōt, from Old Norse rót; related to Latin radix, also to wort.




Main definitions of root in English

: root1root2



  • 1no object, with adverbial (of an animal) turn up the ground with its snout in search of food.

    ‘stray dogs rooting around for bones and scraps’
    • ‘On the Bowling Green near Manhattan's southern tip, for instance, stood a vacant pedestal enclosed by an iron fence around which stray pigs often rooted.’
    • ‘At night we saw dogs rooting in the shadows, and men walking in the cold, their hands drifting out of warm pockets reaching for what?’
    • ‘We passed through a narrow gate, left open, and saw an empty cattle shed, and next to it a circular pig sty, with a few great swine rooting through the strawy mud.’
    1. 1.1 Search unsystematically through an untidy mass or area; rummage.
      ‘she was rooting through a pile of papers’
      • ‘She sighed and started rooting though her rations pack looking for more food.’
      • ‘He turned and rooted through a pile of folders on a table beside him.’
      • ‘She handed him her brown bag and he rooted through it.’
      • ‘These young designers root through junk piles and garage sales to create one-of-a-kind, quirky pieces of furniture.’
      • ‘We had to root around a bit to find food first, but had good luck eventually.’
      • ‘The burden would then be on them to root through all their files in search of infringing items.’
      • ‘With shaking limbs, she rose from her bed, stumbled to the small wardrobe that held her few remaining possessions and started rooting through them, searching frantically.’
      • ‘There was a big pile of stuff in the corner and I rooted through it and felt like a dog searching for a bone or a pig looking for a truffle.’
      • ‘Bounding to the bathroom, he rooted through the cabinets, stuffing everything he found into pockets and hiding places in his sweaters and tunic.’
      • ‘Ignoring his morals and his upbringings, Brad continued to root through the drawer in search of the gun.’
      • ‘He looks over at Tim, who is wearing a pair of headphones over one ear and is rooting around in his jeans pockets for something, probably food.’
      • ‘Laura, in her nightgown, notices that Tom's bed is empty while he roots around in his pockets on the fire escape in search of his key.’
      • ‘He was rooting through his pack for matches when Pierre-Jacques, no doubt assuming he was doing us a favor, soaked the assemblage in gasoline and ignited it with a cigarette lighter.’
      • ‘The girl rushes to join her mother, who is rooting through some old piles of lace handkerchiefs.’
    2. 1.2root something outwith object Find or extract something by rummaging.
      ‘he managed to root out the cleaning kit’
      • ‘The small band of loyal fans like me (I was born the same year as Myra) were reduced to rooting out his records only in 19-cent remainder bins.’
      • ‘It is a specialist search tool, specifically refined to root out the bargains you're looking for and leave out the items you're not.’
      • ‘I thought I'd rooted out all the hidden food in our kitchen.’


  • An act of rooting.

    ‘I had a root through the open drawers’
    • ‘They had a bloody good root in all our stuff, just for the hell of it.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • root for

    • Support or hope for the success of (a person or group entering a contest or undertaking a challenge)

      ‘the whole of this club is rooting for him’
      • ‘And yet… could they really trust the happy reaction of a hometown crowd so inclined to root for their success?’
      • ‘The room exploded with shouts and cheers as people rooted for their favorite.’
      • ‘As the crowd applauds, you can't help rooting for him, too.’
      • ‘By the end you'll be rooting for our British hope and begging for the romantic payoff.’
      • ‘They root for the hero, exult at his successes, are anxious for his triumph, and suffer at his reversals.’
      • ‘But you know, I think your point is that I think maybe some of the jurors are sort of rooting for him secretly.’
      • ‘If he roots for anything, he says, it is for hard-luck cases, big comebacks - in other words, ‘a good story.’’
      • ‘So rooting for a team becomes a display of patriotism.’
      • ‘And you've got to know so many people are rooting for you and your family.’
      • ‘I rooted for the main characters and hoped the bad ones would meet a bad end.’
      cheer, applaud, cheer on, support, encourage, urge on, shout for
      View synonyms
  • root someone on

    • Cheer or spur someone on.

      ‘his mother rooted him on enthusiastically from ringside’
      • ‘I was rooting him on, along with the others in his small but fervent peanut gallery.’
      • ‘Just tell me who was there rooting you on when you were even trying out for those rinky-dink teams?’
      • ‘‘There's a lot of instant gratification, with other people rooting them on, like a game show,’ Bloom says.’
      • ‘So he can come watch me fight and he can keep on rooting me on.’
      • ‘The others were rooting Jerry on by saying, ‘Go Jerry!’’
      • ‘If you sponsor races or leagues, ensure that at least one club employee attends the events and makes it known to members that he or she is there rooting them on.’
      • ‘And Spencer Tracy, he told me once, would visit the set of other movies being shot and root them on.’
      • ‘Your father, who had won a bronze medal in the Olympics in 1956, was one of those rooting you on.’
      • ‘I didn't play my best, but the knowledge that a friendly face was in the stands, rooting me on, definitely helped.’
      • ‘There were fans screaming and yelling and rooting us on.’


Old English wrōtan, of Germanic origin; related to Old English wrōt ‘snout’, German Rüssel ‘snout’, and perhaps ultimately to Latin rodere ‘gnaw’.