4th Grade - Meaning Of Words, Part 1

Meaning of words, part 1
Apply knowledge of word origins, derivations, synonyms, antonyms, and idioms to determine the meaning of words and phrases.
Use knowledge of word origins and derivations to figure out the meaning of words and phrases: nyms = names [from Greek origin – onuma = name] syn = same (thus synonyms are words with same names and/or meanings ant = [from Greek origin – anti = against, opposite] Also the ability to recognize how phrases and expressions (e.g. idioms) are derived and developed over time.

Sample Problems


What is an idiom? (a word, phrase, or expression with figurative (non-literal) meaning)


What is etymology? (the study of the origin and development of words)


What are synonyms? (words that have the same, or similar, meanings)


What are antonyms? (words that have different or opposite meanings)


What is a derivation? (where something came from – its source)

Learning Tips


Look around the house/room to find items that represent eponyms, or words that are derived (come from), the names of people or places.


trade names like Kleenex, Hoover, Samsung, Westinghouse, etc.

teddy bear (from Teddy Roosevelt)

the electric volt (after Alexander Volta)

Frankfurters (from Frankfurt, Germany)

If you’re not sure about where something came from, research it on the Internet!


Brainstorm to list as many, varied abbreviations (shortened words with punctuation) as you can. This will help with understanding how words are truncated, or made shorter, over time or for convenience.


St. = Street, Blvd. = Boulevard, Ave. = Avenue, Dr. = Drive

Mr. = Mister, Mrs. = Misses, Ms. = Miss, Dr. = Doctor, Jr. = Junior, Sr. = Senior

LA = Los Angeles, NV = Nevada, UK = United Kingdom, etc.


Metaphors, similes, and idioms are all types of figurative language that compare things. Unlike similes (use like and as to make comparisons) and metaphors (vivid comparisons that do not use like and as), idioms

Practice differentiating (finding what is different) between these three types of figurative language – make a table with three columns and list examples of each kind.

Examples: Frame1



fast, slow
quiet, loud
boy, girl
black, white
in, out

happy sad

ake several pieces of paper and fold them all together in half, so it makes a book. Then staple or hole-punch and tie the folded edges so the pages stay together. Make a “Synonym & Antonym” book to show words with pictures of pairs of synonyms and antonyms (one word per page or one pair per page).


Use instant/ text messaging lingo to help the child understand acronyms. Examples:

LOL = laughing out loud

TTYL = talk to you later

OIC = oh, I see

TMI = too much information

BRB = be right back

Extra Help Problems


What is an origin? Where something comes from originally, or from the start or beginning.


How can words be created? [from names of people or places (eponyms), as onomatopoeias (words that look like what they sound like), as derivations, through compound words, by shortening, from roots, by changing spelling or pronunciation, as extended meanings, from foreign languages]


What are cognates? (similar words or word parts that have common origins or derivations but are slightly different in different languages)


What are some examples of cognates? (flower, fleur, flor; and Saturday, Sabado, Saturni; etc.)


What parts can words be broken into? (prefixes, root words, suffixes)


What are some common roots? (e.g. geo, bio, ped, equ)


Idioms fall under the general umbrella of what kind of language? (figurative language)


What is figurative language? (the opposite of literal – it includes colloquial expressions, similes, metaphors, hyperboles, etc.)


What is a synonym (syn- = same nym) for sad? (gloomy, miserable, disappointed, depressed, etc.)


What is an antonym (ant- = opposite) for sad? (happy, joyful, etc.)


What is a synonym for happy? (joyful, gleeful, content, pleased, glad, cheerful, etc.)


What are eponyms? (words that are made from proper nouns like the names of people and places)


What are some examples of eponyms? (Jello, Hoover Dam, Xerox, etc.)


What are onomatopoeias? (words that imitate sounds)


What are some examples of onomatopoeias? (bang, whoosh, crackle, zip, ding, etc.)


What are compound words? (words that include two or more smaller words to create a new meaning)


What are some examples of compound words? (buttermilk, bedroom, notebook, mailbox, elbow, lackadaisical, etc.)


What are other words for shortening words? (truncating, abbreviating)


What are some examples of truncated words? (telephone phone, photograph photo,


What are some examples of abbreviations? (Ave. = Avenue, Dr. = Doctor, Jr. = Junior, PA = Pennsylvania, apt. = apartment, etc.)


What are acronyms (not antonyms)? (words formed from the initials or from the elements of a compound term; also, they are usually spelled without periods)


What are some examples of acronyms? (PC = personal computer, TKO = total knockout, CEO = Chief Executive Officer, USC = University of Southern California, etc.)


What is the origin of Sunday? (it comes from the Latin root “sol,” meaning sun)


What other words include the “sol” root? (solar, solstice, solitude, solace, etc.)


What word is student derived from? (study)


Related Games


Copyright ©2009 Big Purple Hippos, LLC