'Root' vs 'Route': What's the Difference?

By Amy Gilmore, updated on July 21, 2023

Do you need to know the difference between 'root' vs. 'route?'

Here is the short answer: 

  • 'Root' is a noun that describes the underground portion of a tree that it uses for stability and nutrient absorption. 
  • 'Root' can also be a verb when you use it to refer to the act of causing something to grow roots or planting something by the roots. 
  • 'Route' is a noun for the path someone takes to travel from one point to another. 
  • 'Route' can also be a verb for directing something via a specific path or transit method. 

Surprisingly, these terms are rather versatile. So, it is essential to understand precisely what they mean and how to utilize them accurately.

This guide will help you thoroughly understand the meanings and usages. So, keep reading!

The Difference Between Root and Route

Regarding the difference between 'root' vs. 'route,' both are nouns and adjectives. They also have similar spellings and sounds. However, the definitions are different.

  • The first term refers to a portion of a tree covered by the earth. The system of 'roots' helps the tree absorb nutrients from the soil and stabilize the tree so it can withstand wind, rain, flooding, and many other things mother nature and humans throw at them.
  • A 'route' is a path taken when traveling between locations or visiting many sites. The 'route' would be the way you traveled to read each destination during your journey.

How to Use 'Root' vs. 'Route'

You know that a 'root' is part of a tree, and a 'route' is a path someone travels. But let's take a closer look at when and how to use 'root' vs. 'route':

  • Use 'root' to refer to the underground portion of a plant or tree.

For example, you might hear someone say:

The invasive vine is nearly impossible to kill unless you cut it off at the root and monitor the root bulb for new growth.

  • Use 'root' to refer to ties you or someone else has with their community, religion, family, or ideals.

For example, I might say:

Your relationship with your family has strong religious roots. 

  • Use 'root' to refer to digging something out or eliminating it.

As an example, you might hear someone say:

We have to root out the people who do not take the project seriously to make real progress. 

  • Use 'route' to reference a path someone takes while traveling.

For example, you could say:

The route between Texas and Arizona was breathtaking. 

  • Use 'route' to say that you directed something somewhere.

For example, you might get an email that says:

To confirm, do you want to route this shipment and all future packages to your new address?

Definition of 'Root': What Does 'Root' Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of 'root' is:

  • The underground portion of a tree that acts as an organ that stores food, absorbs nutrients and provides stability

It can also mean:

  • The base of a tooth which anchors it in the socket
  • The bulbous end of a strand of hair that anchors it within the skin
  • The originating section of a nerve where it connects and branches out from the spinal column
  • Of an original source
  • Underlying or backup support
  • A number that you can take out of a figure an equal number of times
  • Ties
  • A lifeline to something familiar
  • The stabilizing base or lower portion of something
  • The part that connects or anchors something
  • A computer authorization level that allows the user to access and manipulate the entire system

'Root' can also be a verb meaning:

  • To give roots or allow to grow roots
  • To plant at the roots

Synonyms of 'Root'

  • Source
  • Origin
  • Ties
  • Connection
  • Cradle
  • Beginning
  • Inception
  • Start
  • Beginning
  • Germ
  • Genesis
  • Creation
  • Seed
  • Launch
  • Commencement
  • Outset

'Root' Sayings and Phrases

  • The root of all evil
  • Get to the root of it
  • Root it out
  • Build roots in the community
  • Root for your team

Definition of 'Route': What Does 'Route' Mean?

The same dictionary defines 'route' as a noun that means:

  • The way or direction one travels

It can also mean:

  • A channel of access
  • The opportunity to reach something
  • A predetermined course or plan of travel

'Route' can also be a verb meaning:

  • Send something in a specific way
  • Have something sent from one location to another

Synonyms of 'Route'

  • Road
  • Street
  • Way
  • Path
  • Highway
  • Freeway
  • Directions
  • Boulevard
  • Artery
  • Causeway
  • Thoroughfare
  • Expressway
  • Tollway
  • Turnpike
  • Avenue
  • Trail

'Route' Sayings and Phrases

  • Route 66
  • Route it to me
  • Route map
  • Bus route
  • Delivery route
  • Mail route
  • Newspaper route

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Root' vs. 'Route'

Now, let's compare the pronunciations of 'root' vs. 'route.' When dealing with similar words, it is a good idea to learn the difference in pronunciations.

Often, saying each correctly will help you remember the correct meanings and spellings.

So, here is a pronunciation guide you can follow: 

  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'root' correctly:


  • Use this phonetic spelling to learn the pronunciation of 'route':


Sample Sentences Using 'Root' vs. 'Route'

Here are some sample sentences using 'root' vs. 'route.' Read through them to better understand how to use them in conversations or formal written communications.


  • The root of the problem was that she never had to work for anything, and she expected everyone to treat her like royalty.
  • Tree root fungus can kill trees causing them to topple over.
  • We are planning to root the seeds this weekend. Would you mind coming over to help?
  • Having a root canal done is one of those things no one enjoys.


  • Your new route is much better. Being a senior driver has some perks.
  • Please stick to the route we assign you. It confuses corporate and the other drivers when you deviate from the path.
  • I pray that we take the correct route. Otherwise, we could end up where we don't want to be.
  • I want to take the most direct route possible. We need to get there and back quickly.

A Recap of the Difference Between 'Root' vs. 'Route'

Finally, let's recap the difference between 'root' vs. 'route':

  • 'Root' is a noun or verb used to refer to the underground portion of a tree, bush, or plant or the act of planting something or causing it to grow roots. 
  • 'Route' is also a noun or verb for a specific path someone takes to get to a destination or the act of sending something along a specific path. 

It should be relatively simple to keep remember the difference between these terms. However, if you ever need to verify the difference between these terms or others, you can always return to review the guides in the confusing words section here.

Each lesson contains a brief overview, as well as an in-depth explanation with definitions, examples, and usage tips.

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Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

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