Radical vs. Radicle

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Radical and radicle are commonly confused words that are pronounced in the same way but are spelled differently and have different meanings, which makes them homophones. We will examine the different meanings of the homophonic words radical and radicle, the word origins of the terms, and some examples of their English usage in sentences.

Radical is an adjective that means favoring revolutionary change and has usually been used to describe the political left. Radical describes any change that affects someone or something thoroughly and fundamentally. Radical is also used as a noun to mean someone who advocates complete reform. The word radical is derived from the Latin radix, meaning root, and it relates to the desire to change society at the roots.

The radicle is the part of a plant embryo that develops into the main root. The word radicle came into use in botany in the 1600s and is also derived from the Latin word, radix.


Democrat senators are likely to have reservations about such a big and radical tax-and-spend approach. (Sydney Morning Herald)

It is at once an inventive and radical work, a true testimony to her narrative gift. (Indian Express)

In Stage 1, the seedling root or radicle emerges from the seed, while in Stage 2, cotyledons unfold and expand while the radicle penetrates the growing substrate. (Greenhouse Management Magazine)

The first visual indicator of germination (other than the seed swelling) is the appearance of the radicle root between 35 and 60 Growing Degree Days (GDD) after planting (Nielsen, 2019). (Hoosier Ag Today Magazine)

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