Everybody knows what a telephone is. Almost everyone has one, but very few people know why it is called telephone. When you understand the meaning behind the words, not only does it help you with the one word, it can help you understand a lot of other words, too.
tele means far, distance, or from afar
phon means sound
When you put them both together it means something that lets you hear sound from a distance.
So now that you know that, look at some other words that have tele:
telegraph– graph means writing. A telegraph is a written message that is sent a long distance by Morse code.
television– I’m sure you know that vision means something you can see. You can see something from a distance.
And some words that use phon:
microphone– micro means small. We use a microphone to capture a small voice and make it large.
homophone– homo means same. A homophone is two different words that sound the same, like here and hear.
What do you think the following word means?
Answer: phonograph: a sound that is written. Actually a phonograph is a machine that plays recorded (or written) sounds as records before cassettes and CD’s were invented. (See picture below)
Even if your guess wasn’t entirely correct, can you see how knowing about roots of words in English can help you guess the meaning of new words you might come across?