Ant, a Greek prefix

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this, but I just learned a connection between the words: Arctic and Antarctica.










We were going to learn about Antarctica in Social Studies and I was doing some planning. (I also must admit I have a hard time spelling Antarctica!)

“Hmmm. I see the word Arctic in Antarctica. I wonder if there is any connection. There must be. They are on opposite end of the Earth,” I thought to myself.

the Arctic

I’m sure I learned about the locations of Antarctica and the Arctic in school but I don’t remember making the connection between the location and the word relationship between Arctic and Antarctica. The prefix in Antarctica is ant- and is closely related to anti- which I have probably used more in my life. But here I am, an adult using a new Greek prefix to help me understand the meaning of a word!

Ant- is a Greek prefix that is related to anti-. These prefixes mean against, opposite of, or preventative (

Other words that have the ant- prefix include:

“Prefixes help readers understand the meaning of a word as long as they know the meaning of the base or root,” Foreman and Foreman write (p. 161). Now knowing the meaning of the prefix ant- and its relationship to anti-, we can easily understand Antarctica.  When we examine the word Antarctica, we can interpret it as, “the opposite of the Arctic.” When we look at a globe, the Arctic is the region located at the North Pole. Antarctica is located at the South Pole, “the opposite” pole of the Arctic region.

And if we understand the relationship (And know that there is even a relationship!), then we can more easily spell Antarctica, because I already know and remember how to spell Arctic.


The word Arctic is couched in Antarctica and if I combine that understanding with using the sounds of the word, I can spell it more easily!

This is a great example of how using prefixes, roots, and word parts can help us understand and discover new or unknown words. I’m not afraid to tell students this story and use it as an example of how and why they should do the same!

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