Quick Summary

The Latin root sect means “cut.” This Latin root is the word origin of a good number of English vocabulary words, including insect, dissect, and intersect. The root sect is easily recalled via the word section, for a section is a “cut”-off piece of a larger whole.

Dissect Words with Sect!

The Latin root word sect means “cut.” Today we will “cut” right to the chase with that section of English vocabulary derived from sect!

The word “insect” originated from sect because it is a creature “cut” into three parts: the head, the thorax, and the abdomen. Hence, insects have three segments or “cuttings.” It is easy to hear why we say “segment” instead of “secment;” note that the letters “c” and “g” are interchangeable according to Grimm’s Law. And consider the goofy sounding “secmentation” vs. “segmentation,” or the act of “cutting” into pieces.

Math teaches students that a line can not only have segments or “cuttings” of a specific length from it, but lines can also be bisected or “cut” into two exact halves by another line. One line can also intersect another line, “cutting” between its length. And of course there are intersections in roadways where one road “cuts” between and through another, coming together at a common point. In trigonometry the concept of secant is taught, which is a straight line that “cuts” across a curve at two or more points.

Moving on to biology, sometimes beginning biology classes will have students perform a dissection, or the “cutting” apart of a preserved animal such as a frog or worm to analyze its anatomy. Surgeons do all kinds of “cutting” into human bodies during surgery, an example of which is venesection or the “cutting” into a vein, otherwise known as phlebotomy.

We have now dissected or “cut” apart those words with sect in them, and so shall now “cut” off this section of our study of Greek and Latin roots!

  1. insect: creature “cut” into three parts
  2. segment: a “cut” piece
  3. segmentation: a “cutting” into small pieces
  4. bisect: “cut” exactly in two
  5. intersect: to “cut” between
  6. intersection: a “cutting” between
  7. secant: a straight line that “cuts” across a curve at two or more points
  8. dissection: act of “cutting” apart
  9. venesection: at of “cutting” into a vein
  10. dissected: “cut” apart
  11. section: a “cut-”off part of a whole


  • sector

    A sector is a part or section of a larger system, such as the economy as part of society.

  • section

    A section is a piece or part of something larger.

  • sectional

    relating to or based upon a section (i.e. as if cut through by an intersecting plane)

  • bisect

    cut in half or cut in two

  • bisector

    One who, or that which, bisects; esp. (Geom.) a straight line which bisects an angle.

  • cosecant

    ratio of the hypotenuse to the opposite side of a right-angled triangle

  • dissect

    cut open or cut apart

  • dissection

    cutting so as to separate into pieces

  • insect

    small air-breathing arthropod

  • intersect

    meet at a point

  • intersection

    a point where lines intersect

  • secant

    a straight line that intersects a curve at two or more points

  • segment

    divide into segments

  • segmentation

    (embryology) the repeated division of a fertilised ovum

  • subsection

    a section of a section

  • vivisection

    the act of operating on living animals (especially in scientific research)

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