This syllabus and all assignments are copyrighted © 2014 Andrew Dunning and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence. Source files are available on GitHub.

This course attempts to make its material more accessible and current by building on the structure of one of the textbooks traditionally used for CLA 201 at the University of Toronto, by Ayers (1972), supplanting most of its contents with a selection of recent articles on scientific nomenclature (listed in the Schedule). This book presents a large number of scientific terms no longer in use (Ayers died in 1969), as does the other textbook often used at Toronto, by Nybakken (1959). More recent textbooks, however, are written either for a course on Greek and Latin in medical and more specifically anatomical terminology (Walker-Esbaugh, McCarthy, and Sparks 2004), or one that provides a very general introduction to the classical roots of English words without a focus on the sciences (Dunmore and Fleischer 2008; Green 2014). I nonetheless gained some ideas from these works in considering them for adoption in the course, and also particularly from Karenberg (2011).

The appearance of the vocabulary lists is made possible through a set of slides generously provided by John MacCormick (Department of Classics, University of Toronto), which he produced for a version of the course taught in 2012. I have updated and modified these from Ayers to correct some errors, provide better definitions, update some concepts, and consistently meet the standards of Canadian/British spelling; nonetheless, the basic structure of the original has been retained in order to allow students to use these lists seamlessly with the additional descriptions, exercises, and examples found in Ayers’ book. Many definitions appearing in the lists and on tests are adapted from Stevenson (2010). Some other ideas are taken from course websites created by John Traill and Catherine Rubincam.

The website design is taken from Lincoln Mullen’s Clio 3: Programming for Historians.


Ayers, Donald M. 1972. Bioscientific Terminology: Words from Latin and Greek Stems. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

Dunmore, Charles W., and Rita M. Fleischer. 2008. Studies in Etymology. 2nd ed. Newburyport, MA: Focus.

Green, Tamara M. 2014. The Greek & Latin Roots of English. 5th ed. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Karenberg, Axel. 2011. Fachsprache Medizin im Schnellkurs: für Studium und Berufspraxis. 3rd ed. Stuttgart: Schattauer.

Nybakken, Oscar Edward. 1959. Greek and Latin in Scientific Terminology. Ames: Iowa State College Press.

Stevenson, Angus, ed. 2010. Oxford Dictionary of English. 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Walker-Esbaugh, Cheryl, Laine H. McCarthy, and Rhonda A. Sparks. 2004. Dunmore and Fleischer’s Medical Terminology: Exercises in Etymology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia: Davis.