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root (n.)

"underground, downward-growing part of a plant," late Old English rōt and in part from a Scandinavian cognate akin to Old Norse rot "root," figuratively "cause, origin," from Proto-Germanic *wrot (source also of Old English wyrt "root, herb, plant," Old High German wurz, German Wurz "a plant," Gothic waurts "a root," with characteristic Scandinavian loss of -w- before -r-), from PIE root *wrād- "branch, root" (source of wort and radical). The usual Old English words for "root" were wyrttruma and wyrtwala.

Figurative use, "source of a quality or condition," is from late 12c. Of the base parts of teeth, hair, etc., from early 13c. Mathematical sense is from 1550s. Philological sense from 1520s. Slang meaning "penis" is recorded from 1846. In African-American vernacular use, "a spell effected by magical properties of roots," by 1935. The sense of "person considered as the source or offspring of a family or clan" is by early 14c., chiefly biblical.

For coveteousnes is the rote of all evylle, which whill some lusted after, they erde from the feyth, and tanglyd themselves with many sorowes. [I Timothy vi in Tyndale, 1526]

To take root is from mid-15c. as "settle in the ground," hence figurative use (by 1530s). Root beer, made from the extracts of various roots (sarsaparilla, sassafras, etc.), is recorded by 1841, American English; root doctor is from 1821. Roots "established ties with a locality or region; one's background or cultural origins" is by 1921.

root (v.1)

"dig with the snout," 1530s, wroot, of swine, from Middle English wroten "dig with the snout," from Old English wrotan "to root up," from Proto-Germanic *wrot- (source also of Old Norse rota, Swedish rota "to dig out, root," Middle Low German wroten, Middle Dutch wroeten, Old High German ruozian "to plow up"), from PIE root *wrod- "to root, gnaw."

Altered by association with root (v.3), as if "to dig up by the roots." Extended sense of "poke about, pry" is recorded by 1831. The picturesque phrase root hog or die "work or fail" first attested 1834, American English (in works of Davy Crockett, who noted it as an "old saying").

root (v.2)

"cheer, support," 1889, American English, originally in a baseball context, probably from root (v.1) via intermediate sense of "study, work hard" (1856). Related: Rooted; rooting.

root (v.3)

"fix or firmly attach by roots" (often figurative), c. 1200, from root (n.); the sense of "pull up by the root" (now usually uproot) is from late 14c.; that of "put forth roots" is from c. 1400. Related: Rooted; rooting.

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Definitions of root from WordNet
1
root (n.)
(botany) the usually underground organ that lacks buds or leaves or nodes; absorbs water and mineral salts; usually it anchors the plant to the ground;
root (n.)
the place where something begins, where it springs into being;
communism's Russian root
Synonyms: beginning / origin / rootage / source
root (n.)
(linguistics) the form of a word after all affixes are removed;
Synonyms: root word / base / stem / theme / radical
root (n.)
a number that, when multiplied by itself some number of times, equals a given number;
root (n.)
the set of values that give a true statement when substituted into an equation;
Synonyms: solution
root (n.)
someone from whom you are descended (but usually more remote than a grandparent);
Synonyms: ancestor / ascendant / ascendent / antecedent
root (n.)
a simple form inferred as the common basis from which related words in several languages can be derived by linguistic processes;
Synonyms: etymon
root (n.)
the embedded part of a bodily structure such as a tooth, nail, or hair;
2
root (v.)
take root and begin to grow;
this plant roots quickly
root (v.)
come into existence, originate;
The problem roots in her depression
root (v.)
cheer for;
She roots for the Broncos
root (v.)
plant by the roots;
root (v.)
dig with the snout;
the pig was rooting for truffles
Synonyms: rout / rootle
root (v.)
become settled or established and stable in one's residence or life style;
Synonyms: settle / take root / steady down / settle down
root (v.)
cause to take roots;
From wordnet.princeton.edu