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[root or, sometimes, roo t] /rut or, sometimes, rʊt/
verb (used without object)
to encourage a team or contestant by cheering or applauding enthusiastically.
to lend moral support:
The whole group will be rooting for him.
Origin of root3
1885-90, Americanism; perhaps variant of rout4 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for root for


  1. the organ of a higher plant that anchors the rest of the plant in the ground, absorbs water and mineral salts from the soil, and does not bear leaves or buds
  2. (loosely) any of the branches of such an organ
any plant part, such as a rhizome or tuber, that is similar to a root in structure, function, or appearance
  1. the essential, fundamental, or primary part or nature of something: your analysis strikes at the root of the problem
  2. (as modifier): the root cause of the problem
(anatomy) the embedded portion of a tooth, nail, hair, etc
origin or derivation, esp as a source of growth, vitality, or existence
(pl) a person's sense of belonging in a community, place, etc, esp the one in which he was born or brought up
an ancestor or antecedent
(Bible) a descendant
the form of a word that remains after removal of all affixes; a morpheme with lexical meaning that is not further subdivisible into other morphemes with lexical meaning Compare stem1 (sense 9)
(maths) a number or quantity that when multiplied by itself a certain number of times equals a given number or quantity: 3 is a cube root of 27
(maths) Also called solution. a number that when substituted for the variable satisfies a given equation: 2 is a root of x³ – 2x – 4 = 0
(music) (in harmony) the note forming the foundation of a chord
(Austral & NZ, slang) sexual intercourse
root and branch
  1. (adverb) entirely; completely; utterly
  2. (adjective) thorough; radical; complete
related adjective radical
(intransitive) Also take root. to put forth or establish a root and begin to grow
(intransitive) Also take root. to become established, embedded, or effective
(transitive) to fix or embed with or as if with a root or roots
(Austral & NZ, slang) to have sexual intercourse (with)
See also root out, roots, root up
Derived Forms
rooter, noun
rootlike, adjective
rooty, adjective
rootiness, noun
Word Origin
Old English rōt, from Old Norse; related to Old English wyrtwort


verb (intransitive)
(of a pig) to burrow in or dig up the earth in search of food, using the snout
(informal) foll by about, around, in etc. to search vigorously but unsystematically
Derived Forms
rooter, noun
Word Origin
C16: changed (through influence of root1) from earlier wroot, from Old English wrōtan; related to Old English wrōt snout, Middle Dutch wrōte mole


(informal) (intransitive) usually foll by for. to give support to (a contestant, team, etc), as by cheering
Derived Forms
rooter, noun
Word Origin
C19: perhaps a variant of Scottish rout to make a loud noise, from Old Norse rauta to roar
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for root for



"underground part of a plant," late Old English rot, from a Scandinavian source akin to Old Norse rot "root," figuratively "cause, origin," from Proto-Germanic *wrot (cf. 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 *wrad- (see radish (n.), and cf. wort). The usual Old English words for "root" were wyrttruma and wyrtwala.

Figurative use is from c.1200. Of teeth, hair, etc., from early 13c. Mathematical sense is from 1550s. Philological sense from 1520s. Slang meaning "penis" is recorded from 1846. In U.S. black use, "a spell effected by magical properties of roots," 1935. To take root is from 1530s. Root beer, made from the extracts of various roots, first recorded 1841, American English; root doctor is from 1821. Root cap is from 1875.



"dig with the snout," 1530s, from Middle English wroten "dig with the snout," from Old English wrotan "to root up," from Proto-Germanic *wrot- (cf. 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."

Associated with the verb sense of root (n.). Extended sense of "poke about, pry" first recorded 1831. Phrase root hog or die "work or fail" first attested 1834, American English (in works of Davey Crockett, who noted it as an "old saying"). Reduplicated form rootin' tootin' "noisy, rambunctious" is recorded from 1875.



"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.



"fix or firmly attach by roots" (often figurative), early 13c., from root (n.); sense of "pull up by the root" (now usually uproot) also is from late 14c. Related: Rooted; rooting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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root for in Medicine

root (rōōt, rut)

  1. The embedded part of an organ or structure, such as a hair, tooth, or nerve, serving as a base or support.

  2. A primary source; an origin; radix.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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root for in Science
  (rt, rt)   
  1. A plant part that usually grows underground, secures the plant in place, absorbs minerals and water, and stores food manufactured by leaves and other plant parts. Roots grow in a root system. Eudicots and magnoliids have a central, longer, and larger taproot with many narrower lateral roots branching off, while monocots have a mass of threadlike fibrous roots, which are roughly the same length and remain close to the surface of the soil. In vascular plants, roots usually consist of a central cylinder of vascular tissue, surrounded by the pericycle and endodermis, then a thick layer of cortex, and finally an outer epidermis or (in woody plants) periderm. Only finer roots (known as feeder roots) actively take up water and minerals, generally in the uppermost meter of soil. These roots absorb minerals primarily through small epidermal structures known as root hairs. In certain plants, adventitious roots grow out from the stem above ground as aerial roots or prop roots, bending down into the soil, to facilitate the exchange of gases or increase support. Certain plants (such as the carrot and beet) have fleshy storage roots with abundant parenchyma in their vascular tissues. See also fibrous root, taproot.

  2. Any of various other plant parts that grow underground, especially an underground stem such as a corm, rhizome, or tuber.

  3. The part of a tooth that is embedded in the jaw and not covered by enamel.

  4. Mathematics

    1. A number that, when multiplied by itself a given number of times, produces a specified number. For example, since 2 × 2 × 2 × 2 = 16, 2 is a fourth root of 16.

    2. A solution to an equation. For example, a root of the equation x2 - 4 = 0 is 2, since 22 - 4 = 0.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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root for in Culture

root definition

In biology, the part of a plant that grows downward and holds the plant in place, absorbs water and minerals from the soil, and often stores food. The main root of a plant is called the primary root; others are called secondary roots. The hard tip is called the root cap, which protects the growing cells behind it. Root hairs increase the root's absorbing surface.

root definition

The part of a tooth below the gum. The root anchors the tooth to the jawbone.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for root for

root for

verb phrase

  1. To be a regular supporter of; be a fan of: He rooted for the Giants (1889+)
  2. To urge hopefully: I'm rooting for the tax bill (1922+)

[perhaps fr British dialect route, ''roar, bellow'']

root 3


The penis

[1846+; fr something that is or can be planted]

root 1


  1. To cheer; applaud; urge on: We rooted and rooted, but our side folded
  2. To eat food like an animal; pig out

[1888+; origin obscure]

root 2


  1. A cigarette (1900+)
  2. A marijuana cigarette (1960s+ Narcotics)

[perhaps fr cheroot or cigaroot]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with root for

root for

Cheer on, give moral support to, as in The fans were out rooting for their team, or I've been rooting for you to get that promotion. This expression may come from the British verb rout, which is used of cattle and means “bellow.” [ Late 1800s ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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