Student Dictionary

3 entries found for radical.
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Main Entry: 1rad·i·cal
Pronunciation: primarystressrad-i-kschwal
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English radical "relating to a root," from Latin radicalis (same meaning), from earlier radic-, radix "root" --related to ERADICATE, RADISH
1 : of, relating to, or proceeding from a root
2 a : departing sharply from the usual or ordinary : EXTREME b : of or relating to radicals in politics
- rad·i·cal·ly /-k(schwa-)lemacron/ adverb
- rad·i·cal·ness noun
Word History Our word radical was formed from the Latin adjective radicalis, which simply meant "of or relating to a root." The Latin word radix meant "root." This meaning was kept when the word radicalis came into English as radical, but new senses developed too. Since a root is at the bottom of something, radical came to describe what is at the base or beginning, in other words, what is "basic, fundamental." Later, radical was used to describe something that was extremely different from the usual. Then, as a noun radical came to be applied to a person who wants to make extreme or "radical" changes in the government or in society. In mathematics, a radical sign indicates a root of a number. The words radish and eradicate also come from the Latin radix.

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