Definitions

-rrhea

List of medical roots, suffixes and prefixes

This is a list of roots, suffixes, and prefixes used in medical terminology, their meanings, and their etymology. A few rules should be noted when using medical roots. Firstly, prefixes and suffixes, primarily in Greek -- but also in Latin, have a droppable -o-. As a general rule, this -o- almost always acts as a joint-stem to connect two consonantal roots, e.g. arthr- + -o- + logy = arthrology. But generally, the -o- is dropped when connecting to a vowel-stem, e.g. arthr- + itis = arthritis, instead of arthr-o-itis. Secondly, medical roots generally go together according to language: Greek prefixes go with Greek suffixes and Latin prefixes with Latin suffixes. Although it is technically considered acceptable to create hybrid words, it is strongly preferred to not mix different lingual roots.

Prefixes and suffixes

The following is an alphabetical list of medical prefixes and suffixes, along with their meaning, origin, and an English example.

A

Prefix/suffix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
a-, an- Denotes an absence of Ancient Greek α-/αν- (a-/an-), without, not Apathy
ab- away from Abduction
abdomin(o)- Of or relating to the Abdomen Latin (abdōmen), abdomen, fat around the belly Abdomen
-ac pertaining to
acous(o)- Of or relating to hearing
acr(o)- extremity/topmost
-acusis hearing
-ad toward, in the direction of
ad- increase, adherence, motion toward, very Adduction
aden(o)-, aden(i)- Of or relating to a gland Ancient Greek αδην, αδέν- (adēn, aden-), an acorn; a gland Adenology
adip(o)- Of or relating to fat or fatty tissue Latin (adeps, adip-), fat Adipocyte
adren(o)- Of or relating to adrenal glands adrenal artery
-aemia (BrE) blood condition Greek Ἀναιμία, without blood Anaemia
aer(o)- air, gas Aerosinusitis
aesthesio- (BrE) sensation
-al pertaining to Abdominal
alb- Denoting a white or pale color Latin (albus), white Albino
alge(si)- pain Analgesic
-algia pain Myalgia
alg(i)o- pain Myalgia
allo- Denoting something as different, or as an addition Ancient Greek αλλος (allos), another, other Alloantigen, allopathy
ambi- Denoting something as positioned on both sides; Describing both of two Latin (ambi-, ambo), both, on both sides Ambidextrous
amnio- Pertaining to the membraneous fetal sac (amnion) Amniocentesis
an- not, without Analgesia
an(o) anus
andr/o pertaining to a man Andrology, android
angi/o blood vessel Angiogram
aniso- Describing something as unequal Ancient Greek ανῑσος (anīsos), unequal Anisotropic
ankyl(o)-, ancyl(o)- Denoting something as crooked or bent Ancient Greek ανκύλος (ankýlos), crooked, curved Ankylosis
ante- Describing something as positioned in front of another thing Latin (āntē), before, in front of antepartum
anti- Describing something as 'against' or 'opposed to' another Ancient Greek αντι (anti), against Antibody, antipsychotic
apo- separated from, derived from Apoptosis
arteri(o)- Of or pertaining to an artery Ancient Greek αρτηρία (artēría), a wind-pipe, artery (used distinctly versus a vein) Artery, Arteriology
arthr(o)- Of or pertaining to the joints, limbs Ancient Greek αρθρος (arthros), a joint, limb Arthritis
articul(o)- joint Articulation
-ary pertaining to bilary tract
-ase enzyme Lactase
-asthenia weakness Myasthenia gravis
-ation process
aur(i)- Of or pertaining to the ear Latin (auris), the ear Aural
aut(o)- self, same Autoimmune
axill- Of or pertaining to the armpit [uncommon as a prefix] Latin (axilla), armpit Axilla

B

Prefix/suffix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
bacteri(o)- bacteria Bactericide , Bacteriophage
balan(o)- glans penis or glans clitoridis Greek (balanos), acorn
bi- twice, double
bio- life Biology
blast(o)- germ or bud Blastomere
blephar(o)- Of or pertaining to the eyelid Ancient Greek βλέφαρον (blépharon), eyelid Blepharoplast
brachi(o)- Of or relating to the arm Latin (brachium) < Ancient Greek βραχίων (brachiōn), arm Brachium
brachy- Indicating something as 'short' or less commonly 'little' Ancient Greek βραχυς (brachys), short; little, shallow brachycephalic
brady- Indicating something as 'slow' Ancient Greek βραδυς (bradys), slow Bradycardia
bronch(i)- bronchus Bronchiolitis obliterans
bucc(o)- Of or pertaining to the cheek Latin (bucca), cheek Buccolabial
burs(o)- bursa Bursitis

C

Prefix/suffix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
capill- Of or pertaining to hair Latin (capillus), hair Capillus
capit- Pertaining to the head (as a whole) Latin (caput, capit-), the head Capitation
carcin(o)- cancer Carcinoma
cardi(o)- Of or pertaining to the heart Ancient Greek καρδία (kardía), heart Cardiology
carp(o)- Of or pertaining to the wrist. Latin (carpus) < Ancient Greek καρπός (karpós), wrist; NOTE: This root need not be confused with the mirror root carp(o)- meaning fruit. Carpopedal
cata- down Greek (kata) Cataract
-cele pouching, hernia Hydrocele
-centesis surgical puncture for aspiration Amniocentesis
cephal(o)- Of or pertaining to the head (as a whole) Ancient Greek κέφαλή (képhalē), the head Cephalalgy
cerat(o)- Of or pertaining to the cornu; a horn Ancient Greek κέρας, κερατ- (kéras, kerat-), a horn Ceratoid
cerebell(o)- Of or pertaining to the cerebellum Latin (cerebellum), little brain Cerebellum
cerebr(o)- Of or pertaining to the brain Latin (cerebrum), brain Cerebrology
cervic- Of or pertaining to the neck, the cervix Latin (cervix, cervīc-), neck, cervix Cervicodorsal
chem(o)- chemistry, drug Chemotherapy
chir(o)-, cheir(o)- Of or pertaining to the hand Ancient Greek χείρ, χειρο- (cheir, cheiro-), hand Chiropractor
chlor(o)- Denoting a green color Ancient Greek χλορος (chloros), green, yellow-green Chlorophyll
chol(e)- Of or pertaining to bile Ancient Greek χολή (cholē), bile Cholaemia
cholecyst(o)- Of or pertaining to the gallbladder Ancient Greek χοληκύστις (cholēkýstis), gallbladder < χολη (cholē), bile, gall + κύστις (kýstis), bladder Cholecystectomy
chondr(i)o- cartilage, gristle, granule, granular Chondrocalcinosis
chrom(ato)- color Greek Hemachromatosis
-cidal, -cide killing, destroying
cili- Of or pertaining to the cilia, the eyelashes; eyelids < Latin (cilium), eyelash; eyelid Ciliary
circum- Denoting something as 'around' another Latin (circum), around Circumcision
cis- on this side Latin (cis)
clast break Greek
co- with, together, in association Latin
col-, colo-, colono- colon Colonoscopy
colp(o)- Of or pertaining to the vagina Ancient Greek κόλπος (kólpos), bosom, womb; hollow, depth Colposcopy
com- with, together Latin
contra against Latin Contraindicate
cor- with, together Latin
cor-, core-, coro- Of or pertaining to eye's pupil Ancient Greek κόρη (kórē), girl, doll; pupil of the eye Corectomy
cordi- Of or pertaining to the heart [Uncommon as a prefix] Latin (cor, cordi-), heart Commotio cordis
cornu- Applied to processes and parts of the body describing them likened or similar to horns Latin (cornū), horn
cost(o)- Of or pertaining to the ribs Latin (costa), rib Costochondral
cox- Of or relating to the hip, haunch, or hip-joint Latin (coxa), hip Coxopodite
crani(o)- Belonging or relating to the cranium Latin (cranium) < Ancient Greek κρᾱνίον (krānion), the cranium, skull, bones enclosing the brain Craniology
-crine to secrete Endocrine
cry(o)- cold Cryoablation
cutane- skin Subcutaneous
cyan(o)- Denotes a blue color Ancient Greek κύανος, κυάνεος (kýanos, kyáneos), blue Cyanopsia
cycl- circle, cycle Greek (kuklos)
cyph(o)- Denotes something as bent [uncommon as a prefix] Ancient Greek κυφός (kȳphós), bent, hunchback Cyphosis
cyst(o)-, cyst(i)- Of or pertaining to the urinary bladder Ancient Greek κύστις (kýstis), bladder; cyst Cystotomy
cyt(o)- cell Greek Cytokine
-cyte cell Greek Leukocyte

D

Prefix/suffix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
dacrio- tear Greek
dactyl(o)- Of or pertaining to a finger, toe Ancient Greek δάκτυλος (dáktylos), finger, toe Dactylology
de- away from, cessation Latin de-
dent- Of or pertaining to teeth Latin (dens, dentis), tooth Dentist
dermat(o)-, derm(o)- Of or pertaining to the skin Ancient Greek δέρμα, δέρματ- (dérma, démat-), skin, human skin Dermatology
-desis binding Greek (desis) arthrodesis
dextr(o)- right, on the right side Latin dexter Dextrocardia
di- two Greek
di- apart, separation Latin
dia- (same as Greek meaning) Ancient Greek διά (diá), through, during, across Diacetyl
dif- apart, separation Latin
digit- Of or pertaining to the finger [rare as a root] Latin (digitus), finger, toe Digit
dis- separation, taking apart Latin dis- Dissection
dors(o)-, dors(i)- Of or pertaining to the back Latin (dorsum), back Dorsal, Dorsocephalad
duodeno- duodenum - upper part of the small intestine, connects to the stomach Latin duodeni Duodenal atresia
dynam(o)- force, energy, power Greek δυναμις (dunamis)
-dynia pain
dys- bad, difficult Greek δυσ- Dysphagia, dysphasia

E

Prefix/suffix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
-eal pertaining to Latin
ec- out, away Greek (ek-)
ect(o)- outer, outside Greek Ectopic pregnancy
-ectasis expansion, dilation Ancient Greek
-ectomy Denotes a surgical operation or removal of a body part Ancient Greek εκτομή (ectomē), excision Mastectomy
-emesis vomiting condition
-emia blood condition (AmE) Greek Ἀναιμία, without blood Anemia
encephal(o)- Of or pertaining to the brain Ancient Greek ενκέφαλος (enképhalos), the brain Encephalogram
endo- Denotes something as 'inside' or 'within' Ancient Greek ενδο- (endo-), inside, internal Endocrinology, Endospore
enter(o)- Of or pertaining to the intestine Ancient Greek έντερον (énteron), intestine Gastroenterology
epi- [Same as Greek meaning] Ancient Greek επι- (epi-), before, upon, on, outside, outside of Epistaxis
episi(o)- Of or pertaining to the pubic region, the loins Ancient Greek επίσιον- (epísion), the pubic area, loins; vulva Episiotomy
erythr(o)- Denotes a red color Ancient Greek ερυθρος (erythros), red Erythrocyte
-esophageal, -esophago gullet (AmE)
esthesio- sensation (AmE) Greek
eu- good, well Greek Eukaryote
ex- out of, away from Latin
exo- Denotes something as 'outside' another Ancient Greek εξο- (exo-), outside of, external Exoskeleton
extra- outside Latin

F

Prefix/suffix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
faci(o)- Of or pertaining to the face Latin (faciēs), the face, countenance Facioplegic
fibr(o) fiber Fibroblast
filli- fine, hair like
-form, -iform Used to form adjectives indicating 'having the form of' Latin (forma), form, shape Cuneiform
front- Of or pertaining to the forehead Latin (frōns, front-), the forehead Frontonasal

G

Prefix/suffix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
galact(o)- milk Galactorrhea
gastr(o)- Of or pertaining to the stomach Ancient Greek γαστήρ (gastēr), stomach, belly Gastric bypass
-gen (1) Denotes the sense 'born in, from' (2) Denotes the sense 'of a certain kind' Ancient Greek -γενής (-genēs) < γεν-νάειν (gen-náein), to be born (1) Endogen; (2) Heterogenous
-genic Formation Cardiogenic shock
genu- Of or pertaining to the knee Latin (genū), knee Genu valgum
gingiv- Of or pertaining to the gums Latin (gingīva), gum Gingivitis
glauc(o)- Denoting a grey, bluish-grey color Ancient Greek γλαυκός (glaúkos), grey, bluish-grey Glaucoma
gloss(o)-, glott(o)- Of or pertaining to the tongue Ancient Greek γλῶσσα, γλῶττα (glōssa, glōtta), tongue Glossology
gluco- glucose Glucocorticoid
glyco- sugar Glycolysis
gnath(o)- Of or pertaining to the jaw Ancient Greek γνάθος (gnáthos), jaw Gnathodynamometer
gon(o)- seed, semen; also, reproductive Ancient Greek Gonorrhea
-gram record or picture Angiogram
-graph record or picture Ancient Greek -γραφία (-graphía), written, drawn, graphic interpretation Electrocardiograph
-graphy process of recording Angiography
gyn(aec)o- (BrE), gyn(ec)o- (AmE) woman Gynecomastia

H

Prefix/suffix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
halluc- to wander in mind Classical Latin to wander in mind Hallucinosis
hemat-, haemato- (haem-, hem-) Of or pertaining to blood Latin (hæma) < Ancient Greek αίμα, αίματ- (haima, haimat-), blood Hematology, older form Haematology
hema or hemo- blood (AmE) Hematological malignancy
hemi- one-half Ancient Greek ἡμι- (hēmi-), "half" Cerebral hemisphere
hepat- (hepatic-) Of or pertaining to the liver Ancient Greek ηπαρ, ηπατο- (hēpar, hēpato-), the liver Hepatology
heter(o)- Denotes something as 'the other' (of two), as an addition, or different Ancient Greek έτερος (héteros), the other (of two), another; different Heterogeneous
hidr(o)- sweat Greek Hyperhidrosis
hist(o)-, histio- tissue Histology
home(o)- similar Ancient Greek όμοιος (homoios) Homeopathy
hom(o)- Denotes something as 'the same' as another or common Ancient Greek ομο- (homo-), the same, common Homosexuality
humer(o)- Of or pertaining to the shoulder (or [rarely] the upper arm) Incorrect Etymology < Latin (umerus), shoulder Humerus
hydr(o)- water Greek Hydrophobe
hyper- Denotes something as 'extreme' or 'beyond normal' Ancient Greek υπερ (hyper), over, above; beyond, to the extreme Hypertension
hyp(o)- Denotes something as 'below normal' Ancient Greek υπ(ο)- (hypo-), below, under Hypovolemia,
hyster(o)- Of or pertaining to the womb, the uterus Ancient Greek υστέρα (hystéra), womb Hysterectomy

I

Prefix/suffix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
-ia(sis) condition Mydriasis
iatr(o)- Of or pertaining to medicine, or a physican [uncommon as a prefix; common as as suffix, see -iatry] Ancient Greek ιᾱτρός (iātrós), healer, physician Iatrochemistry
-iatry Denotes a field in medicine of a certain body component Ancient Greek ιᾱτρός (iātrós), healer, physician Podiatry, Psychiatry
-ic pertaining to Greek (-ikos) Hepatic artery
-icle small Ovarian follicle
-ics organized knowledge, treatment
idio- self, one's own Greek ἴδιος, idios, "one's own" Idiopathic
ileo- ileum Ileocecal valve
infra- below Latin Infrahyoid muscles
inter- between, among Latin Interarticular ligament
intra- within Latin Intracranial hemorrhage
irid(o)- iris Iridectomy
ischio- Of or pertaining to the ischium, the hip-joint Ancient Greek ισχιόν (ischión), hip-joint, ischium Ischiorrhogic
-ism condition, disease Dwarfism
-ismus spasm, contraction
iso- Denoting something as being 'equal' Ancient Greek ίσος (ísos), equal Isotonic
-ist one who specializes in Greek (-istes) Pathologist
-ite the nature of, resembling Hermaphrodite
-itis inflammation Tonsillitis
-ium structure, tissue pericardium

K

Prefix/suffix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
karyo- nucleus Greek κάρυον, "nut" Eukaryote
kerat(o)- cornea (eye or skin) Keratoscope
kin(e)-, kin(o), kinesi(o)- movement Greek Kinesthesia
kyph(o)- humped Kyphoscoliosis

L

Prefix/suffix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
labi(o)- Of or pertaining to the lip Latin (labium), lip Labiodental
lacrim(o)- tear Lacrimal canaliculi
lact(i)-, lact(o) milk Lactation
lapar(o)- Of or pertaining to the abdomen-wall, flank Ancient Greek λαπάρᾱ (lapárā), flank Laparotomy
laryng(o)- Of or pertaining to the larynx, the lower throat cavity where the voice box is Ancient Greek λάρυγξ, λαρυγγ- (lárynx, laryng-), throat, gullet Larynx
latero- lateral Lateral pectoral nerve
lei(o)- smooth Leiomyoma
-lepsis, -lepsy attack, seizure Epilepsy, nacrolepsy
lept(o)- light, slender Greek (leptos)
leuc(o)-, leuk(o)- Denoting a white color Ancient Greek λευκος (leukos), white, bright Leukocyte
lingu(a)-, lingu(o)- Of or pertaining to the tongue Latin (lingua), tongue Linguistics
lip(o)- fat Liposuction
lith(o)- stone, calculus Lithotripsy
log(o)- speech
-logist Denotes someone who studies a certain field: _____-logy Ancient Greek λογιστης (logistēs), studier, practitioner Oncologist, pathologist
-logy Denotes the academic study or practice of a certain field Ancient Greek λογoς (logos) study hematology, urology
lymph(o)- lymph Lymphedema
lys(o)-, -lytic dissolution Lysosome
-lysis Destruction Paralysis

M

Prefix/suffix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
macr(o)- large, long Macrophage
-malacia softening Osteomalacia
mamm(o)- Of or pertaining to the breast Latin (mamma), breast; udder Mammogram
manu- Of or pertaining to the hand Latin (manus), hand Manufacture
mast(o)- Of or pertaining to the breast Ancient Greek μαστός (mastós), breast, women's breast; man's pectoral muscle Mastectomy
meg(a)-, megal(o)-, megaly enlargement Splenomegaly
melan(o)- Denoting a black color Ancient Greek μελας, μελανο- (melas, melano-), black; dark Melanin
mening(o)- meninges Meningitis
mes(o)- middle Ancient Greek μέσος (mesos), "middle" Mesoderm
meta- after, behind Metacarpus
-meter measurement Sphygmomanometer
-metry process of measuring Optometry
metr(o)- Pertaining to conditions or instruments of the uterus Ancient Greek μήτρᾱ (mētrā), womb, uterus Metrorrhagia
micro- denoting something as small, or relating to smallness Ancient Greek μικρος (mikros), small Microscope
mon(o)- single Infectious mononucleosis
morph(o)- form, shape Morphology
muscul(o)- muscle Musculoskeletal system
my(o)- Of or relating to muscle Ancient Greek μυς, μυ- (mys, my-), muscle; mouse; mussel Myoblast
myc(o)- fungus Onychomycosis
myel(o)- Of or relating to bone marrow Ancient Greek μυελον (myelon), marrow; bone-marrow Myeloblast
myring(o)- eardrum Myringotomy
myx(o)- mucus Myxoma

N

Prefix/suffix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
nas(o)- Of or pertaining to the nose Latin (nāsum), nose nasal
necr(o)- death Necrotizing fasciitis
neo- new Neoplasm
nephr(o)- Of or pertaining to the kidney Ancient Greek νεφρός (nephrós), kidney Nephrology
nerv- Of or pertaining to nerves and the nervous system [Uncommon as a root: neuro- mostly always used] Latin (nervus), tendon; nerve; Cognate with the Greek νευρον (neuron) (see below) Nerve
neur(i)-, neur(o)- Of or pertaining to nerves and the nervous system Ancient Greek νευρον (neuron), tendon, sinew; nerve Neurofibromatosis
normo- normal Normocapnia

O

Prefix/suffix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
ocul(o)- Of or pertaining to the eye Latin (oculus), the eye Oculist
odont(o)- Of or pertaining to teeth Ancient Greek οδούς, οδοντ- (odoús, odont-), tooth orthodontist
odyn(o)- pain
-oesophageal, oesophago- (BrE) gullet
-oid resemblance to Sarcoidosis
ole small or little
olig(o)- Denoting something as 'having little, having few' Ancient Greek ολιγος (oligos), few Oligotrophy
om(o)- Of or pertaining to the shoulder Ancient Greek ωμος (ōmos), shoulder Omoplate
-oma (singular), -omata (plural) tumor Sarcoma, Teratoma
omphal(o)- Of or pertaining to the navel, the umbilicus Ancient Greek ομφαλός (omphalós), navel, belly-button Omphalotomy
onco- tumor, bulk, volume Oncology
onych(o)- Of or pertaining to the nail (of a finger or toe) Ancient Greek < όνυξ, όνυχο- (ónyx, ónycho-), nail; claw; talon Onychophagy
oo- Of or pertaining to the an egg, a woman's egg, the ovum Ancient Greek ωόν, ωο- (ōón, ōo-), egg, ovum Oogenesis
oophor(o)- Of or pertaining to the woman's ovary Ancient Greek ωφόρον (ōphóron), ovary, egg-bearing Oophorectomy
ophthalm(o)- Of or pertaining to the eye Ancient Greek οφθαλμός (ophthalmós), the eye Ophthalmology
optic(o)- Of or relating to chemical properties of the eye Middle French (optique) < Greek οπτικός (optikós); Cognate with Latin oculus, relating to the eye Opticochemical
or(o)- Of or pertaining to the mouth Latin (ōs, or-), mouth Oral
orchi(o)-, orchido- testis Greek (orkhis, orkhi-) Orchiectomy, Orchidectomy
orth(o)- Denoting something as straight or correct Ancient Greek ορθος (orthos), straight, correct, normal Orthodontist
-osis a condition, disease or increase Harlequin type ichthyosis
osseo- bony
ossi- bone Peripheral ossifying fibroma
ost(e)-, oste(o)- bone Osteoporosis
ot(o)- Of or pertaining to the ear Ancient Greek ους, ωτ- (ous, ōt-), the ear Otopathy
-otomy Tracheotomy, radial keratotomy
-ous pertaining to
ovari(o)- Of or pertaining to the ovaries Latin (ōvarium), ovary Ovariectomy
ovo-, ovi-, ov- Of or pertaining to the eggs, the ovum Latin (ōvum), egg, ovum Ovogenesis
oxo- addition of oxygen
oxy- sharp, acid, acute, oxygen

P

Prefix/suffix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
pachy- thick pachyderma
palpebr- Of or pertaining to the eyelid [uncommon as a root] Latin (palpebra), eyelid Palpebra
pan-, pant(o)- Denoting something as 'complete' or containing 'everything' Ancient Greek πας, παν- (pas, pan-), all, every panophobia, panopticon
papill- Of or pertaining to the nipple (of the chest/breast) Latin (papilla), nipple; dimunitive of papula (see below) Papillitis
papul(o)- Indicates papulosity, a small elevation or swelling in the skin, a pimple, swelling Latin (papula), pimple, pustle; a small elevation or swelling in the skin Papulation
para- alongside of, abnormal
-paresis slight paralysis hemiparesis
path(o)- disease Pathology
-pathy Denotes (with a negative sense) a disease, or disorder Ancient Greek παθος (pathos), suffering, accident sociopathy, neuropathy
ped-, -ped-, -pes Of or pertaining to the foot; -footed Latin (pēs, pēd-), foot Pedoscope
pelv(i)-, pelv(o)- hip bone Pelvis
-penia deficiency osteopenia
peo- Of or pertaining to the penis Greek (peos) Peotomy
-pepsia Denotes something relating to digestion, or the digestive tract. Ancient Greek πεπτός (peptós) cooked, digested < πέσσω (péssō) I boil, cook; digest Dyspepsia
per- through
peri- Denoting something with a position 'surrounding' or 'around' another Ancient Greek περι- (peri-), around Periodontal
-pexy fixation Cataplexy
phaco- lens-shaped
-phage, -phagia Forms terms denoting conditions relating to eating or ingestion Ancient Greek φαγἰα (phagía) eating < φαγειν (phagein) to eat Sarcophagia
phago- eating, devouring phagocyte
-phagist: Forms nouns that denote a person who 'feeds on' the first element or part of the word Ancient Greek φαγιστης (phagistēs) eater; see -phagia Lotophagis
-phagy Forms nouns that denotes 'feeding on' the first element or part of the word Ancient Greek φαγια (phagia) eating; see -phagia Anthropophagy
phallo- phallus Greek (phallos) Aphallia
pharmaco- drug, medication pharmacology
pharyng(o)- Of or pertaining to the pharynx, the upper throat cavity Ancient Greek φάρυγξ, φάρυγγ- (phárynx, pháryng-), throat, windpipe; chasm Pharyngitis, Pharyngoscopy
-phil(ia) attraction for Hemophilia
phleb(o)- Of or pertaining to the (blood) veins, a vein Ancient Greek φλεψ, φλεβ- (phleps, phlebo-), blood-vessel, vein Phlebography, Phlebotomy
phob(o)- exaggerated fear, sensitivity arachnophobia
phon(o)- sound
phos- Of or pertaining to light or its chemical properties, now historic and used rarely. See the common root phot(o)- below. Ancient Greek φλως, φλωτ- (phōs, phōt-), light Phosphene
phot(o)- Of or pertaining to light Ancient Greek φλως, φλωτ- (phōs, phōt-), light Photopathy
phren(i)-, phren(o)-, phrenico diaphragm Phrenic nerve
-plasia formation, development Achondroplasia
-plasty surgical repair, reconstruction rhinoplasty
-plegia paralysis paraplegia
pleur(o)-, pleur(a) Of or pertaining to the ribs Latin (pleura) < Ancient Greek πλευρόν (pleurón), rib, side of the body Pleurogenous
pneum(o)- Of or pertaining to the lungs Ancient Greek πνευμων, πνευμον- (pneumōn, pneumon-), lung < πνευμα (pneuma), wind, spirit Pneumonocyte, Pneumonia
pneumat(o)- air, lung
pod-, -pod-, -pus Of or pertaining to the foot, -footed Ancient Greek πούς, ποδ- (poús, pod-), foot Podiatry
-poiesis production hematopoiesis
polio- Denoting a grey color Ancient Greek πολιός (poliós), grey Poliomyelitis
poly- Denotes a 'plurality' of something Ancient Greek πολυς (polys), much, many Polymyositis
por(o)- pore, porous
porphyr(o)- Denotes a purple color Ancient Greek πορπύρα (porphýra), purple Porphyroblast
post- Denotes something as 'after' or 'behind' another Latin (post), after, behind Postoperation, Postmortem
pre- Denotes something as 'before' another (in [physical] position or time) Medieval Latin (pre-) < (Classical) Latin (præ), before, in front of Prematurity
presby(o)- old age Presbyopia
prim- Denotes something as 'first' or 'most-important' Latin (prīmus), first, most important Primary
pro- Denotes something as 'before' another (in [physical] position or time) Ancient Greek προ (pro), before, in front of Procephalic
proct(o)- anus, rectum proctology
prot(o)- Denotes something as 'first' or 'most-important' Ancient Greek πρωτος (prōtos), first; principle, most important Protoneuron
psych(e)-, psych(o) Of or pertaining to the mind Ancient Greek ψυχή (psyché), breath, life, soul Psychology, Psychiatry
-ptosis falling, downward placement, prolapse Apoptosis
-ptysis (a spitting), spitting, hemoptysis, the spitting of blood derivied from the lungs or bronchial tubes
pulmon-, pulmo- Of or relating to the lungs. Latin (pulmo, pulmōn-, usually used in plural), a lung pulmonary
pyel(o)- pelvis Ancient Greek (pyelos) Pyelonephritis
pyo- pus
pyro- fever Antipyretic

Q

Prefix/suffix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
quadr(i)- four quadriceps

R

Prefix/suffix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
rachi(o)- spine
radio- radiation,
re- again, backward
rect(o)- rectum
ren(o)- Of or pertaining to the kidney Latin (rēnes), kidney Renal
reticul(o)- net
retro- backward, behind retroverted
rhabd(o)- rod shaped, striated
rhin(o)- Of or pertaining to the nose Ancient Greek ρῑς, ρῑνο- (rhīs, rhīno-), nose Rhinoceros
rhod(o)- Denoting a rose-red color Ancient Greek ρόδον (rhódon), rose Rhodophyte
-rrhage burst forth Hemorrhage
-rrhagia rapid flow of blood
-rrhaphy surgical suturing
-rrhea (AmE) flowing, discharge Galactorrhea
-rrhexis rupture
-rrhoea (BrE) flowing, discharge Diarrhoea
rubr(o)- Of or pertaining to the red nucleus of the brain Latin (ruber), red Rubrospinal

S

Prefix/suffix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
salping(o)- Of or pertaining to the fallopian tubes Ancient Greek σάρπιγξ, σαρπιγγ-, (sálpinx, salpingo-) trumpet [literally] Salpingectomy
sangui-, sanguine- Of or pertaining to blood Latin (sanguis, sanguin-), blood Sanguine
sarco- muscular, fleshlike Greek sarcoma
schist(o)- split, cleft Greek (schistos)
schiz(o)- Denoting something 'split' or 'double-sided' Ancient Greek; Irregular formation of the verb σχιζειν (schizein), to cut, split Schizophrenia
scler(o)- hardness Greek artherosclerosis
scoli(o)- twisted Greek (skolios) scoliosis
-scope instrument for viewing Greek stethoscope
-scopy use of instrument for viewing endoscopy
semi- one-half, partly Latin
sial(o)- saliva, salivary gland Greek (sialon)
sigmoid(o)- sigmoid, sigmoid colon Greek
sinistr(o)- left, left side Latin
sinus- Of or pertaining to the sinus Latin (sinus), a curve, bend, bay Sinusitis
-sis condition of Greek osteoperosis
sito- food, grain
somat(o)-, somatico- body, bodily Greek
spasmo- spasm Greek
'''sperma-, spermo-, spermato- semen, spermatozoa Greek (sperma)
splanchn(i)-, splanchn(o)- viscera
splen(o)- spleen Splenectomy
spondyl(o)- Of or pertaining to the spine, the vertebra Greek σπόνδθλος / σφόνδθλος, (spóndylos / sphóndylos), the spine Spondylitis
squamos(o)- Denoting something as 'full of scales' or 'scaly' Latin (sqāmōsus), full of scales; scaly Squama
-stasis stop, stand Greek
-staxis dripping, trickling Greek
sten(o)- Denoting something as 'narrow in shape' or pertaining to narrow-ness Ancient Greek στενος (stenos), narrow; short Stenography
steth(o)- Of or pertaining to the upper chest, chest, the area above the breast and under the neck Ancient Greek στηθος (stēthos), chest, cuirass Stethoscope
stheno- strength, force, power
stom(a) mouth Greek stomatognathic system
stomat(o)- Of or pertaining to the mouth Ancient Greek στόμα, στοματ- (stóma, stomat-), mouth Stomatogastric
-stomy creation of an opening colostomy
sub- beneath Latin subcutaneous tissue
super- in excess, above, superior Latin superior vena cava
supra- above, excessive Latin supraorbital vein
sy(l)-, sym-, syn-, sys- Indicates similarity, likeness, or being together; Assimilates before some consonants: before l to syl-, s to sys-, before a labial to sym-. Ancient Greek συν- (syn), with, together Synalgia, Synesthesia, Syssarcosis

T

Prefix/suffix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
tachy- Denoting something as fast, irregularly fast Ancient Greek ταχυς (tachys), fast, quickly Tachycardia
-tension, -tensive blood pressure Hypertension
thel(e)-, thel(o)- Of or pertaining to a woman's teat, nipple [uncommon as a prefix] Ancient Greek θηλή (thēlē), a teat, nipple Thelephoroid
thely- Denoting something as 'relating to a woman, feminine' Ancient Greek θηλυς (thēlys), female, feminine Thelygenous
therm(o)- heat
thorac(i)-, thorac(o)-, thoracico- Of or pertaining to the upper chest, chest; the area above the breast and under the neck Latin (thōrāx) < Ancient Greek θώραξ (thōrax), chest, cuirass Thorax
thromb(o)- Of or relating to a blood clot, clotting of blood Ancient Greek θρόμβος (thrómbos), lump, piece, clot of blood Thrombus, Thrombocytopenia
thyr(o)- thyroid
-tic pertaining to
toco- childbirth
-tome cutting instrument
-tomy cutting operation Cystotomy
tono- tone, tension, pressure
-tony tension
top(o)- place, topical
tox(i)-, tox(o)-, toxico- toxin, poison Toxoplasmosis
trache(o)- trachea
trachel(o)- Of or pertaining to the neck Ancient Greek τράχηλος (tráchēlos), neck Tracheotomy
trans- Denoting something as moving or situated 'across' or 'through' Latin (trāns), across, through Transfusion
trich(i)-, trichia, trich(o)- Of or pertaining to hair, hair-like structure Ancient Greek τρίξ, τριχ(ο)- (tríx, trich(o)-), hair Trichotomy
-tripsy crushing Lithotripsy
-trophy tissue, Muscular Dystrophy
-trophy nourishment, development
tympan(o)- eardrum

U

Prefix/suffix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
-ula, -ule small Latin Nodule
ultra- beyond, excessive Latin
umbilic- Of or pertaining to the navel, the umbilicus Latin (umbilīcus), navel, belly-button Umbilical
ungui- Of or pertaining to the nail, a claw Latin (unguis), nail, claw Unguiform, Ungual
un(i)- one Latin (unus) Unilateral hearing loss
ur(o)- Of or pertaining to urine, the urinary system; (specifically) pertaining to the physiological chemistry of urine Ancient Greek ουρον (ouron), urine Urology
uri(c)-, urico- uric acid
urin- Of or pertaining to urine, the urinary system Latin (ūrīna), urine < Ancient Greek ουρον (ouron), see above. Uriniferous
uter(o)- Of or pertaining to the uterus or womb Latin (uterus), womb, uterus Uterus

V

Prefix/suffix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
vagin- Of or pertaining to the vagina Latin (vāgīna), sheath, scabbard Vagina
varic(o)- swollen or twisted vein
vas(o)- duct, blood vessel vasoconstriction
vasculo- blood vessel
ven- Of or pertaining to the (blood) veins, a vein [used in terms pertaining to the vascular system ] Latin (vēna), blood-vessel, vein Vein, Venospasm
ventr(o)- Of or pertaining to the belly; the stomach cavities Latin (venter), the belly, the stomach; the womb Ventrodorsal
vesic(o)- Of or pertaining to the bladder Latin (vēsīca), bladder; blister Vesica
viscer(o)- Of or pertaining to the internal organs, the viscera Latin (viscera), internal organs; plural of (viscerum), internal organ Viscera

X

Prefix/suffix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
xanth(o)- Denoting a yellow color, an abnormally yellow color Ancient Greek ξανθός (xanthós), yellow Xanthopathy

Y

Prefix/suffix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
-y condition or process of Surgery

Z

Prefix/suffix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
zo(o)- animal, animal life
zym(o)- fermentation, enzyme

English Meanings

This section contains lists of different root classification (e.g. body components, quantity, description, etc.). Each list is alphabetized by English meanings, with the corresponding Greek and Latin roots given.

Roots of the Body

Roots of Bodily Concepts

Bodily Concept Greek Root Latin Root Other Root
Digestion -pepsia - -
Disease -pathy - -
Eating -phagia - -

Roots of body parts and components

(Internal Anatomy, External Anatomy, Body Fluids, Body Substances)

Body Part/Component Greek Root Latin Root Other Root
abdomen lapar(o)- abdomin- -
aorta aort(o)- aort(o)- -
arm brachi(o)- - -
armpit - axill- -
artery arteri(o)- - -
back - dors- -
big toe - allic- -
bladder cyst(o)- vesic(o)- -
blood haemat-, hemat- (haem-, hem-) sangui-, sanguine- -
blood clot thromb(o)- - -
blood vessel angi(o)- vascul-, vas- -
body somat-, som- corpor- -
bone oste(o)- ossi- -
bone marrow, marrow myel(o)- medull- -
brain encephal(o)- cerebr(o)- -
breast mast(o)- mamm(o)- -
chest steth(o)- - -
cheek - bucc- -
ear ot(o)- aur- -
eggs, ova oo- ov- -
eye ophthalm(o)- ocul(o)- optic(o) [French]
eyelid blephar(o)- cili-; palpebr- -
face - faci(o)- -
fallopian tubes sarping(o)- sarping(o)- -
fat, fatty tissue lip(o)- adip- -
finger dactyl(o)- digit- -
forehead - front(o)- -
gallbladder cholecyst(o)- fell- -
genitals, sexually undifferentiated gon(o)-, phall(o)- - -
gland aden(o)- - -
glans penis or clitoridis balan(o)- - -
gums - gingiv- -
hair trich(o)- capill- -
hand cheir(o)-, chir(o)- manu- -
head cephal(o)- capit(o)- -
heart cardi(o)- cordi- -
hip, hip-joint - cox- -
horn cerat(o)- cornu- -
intestine enter(o)- - -
jaw gnath(o)- - -
kidney nephr(o)- ren- -
knee gon- genu- -
lip cheil(o)-, chil(o)- labi(o)- -
liver hepat(o)- (hepatic-) jecor- -
loins, pubic region episi(o)- pudend- -
lungs pneumon- pulmon(i)- (pulmo-) -
marrow, bone marrow myel(o)- medull- -
mind psych- ment- -
mouth stomat(o)- or- -
muscle my(o)- - -
nail onych(o)- ungui- -
navel omphal(o)- umbilic- -
neck trachel(o)- cervic- -
nerve; the nervous system neur(o)- nerv- -
nipple, teat thele- papill- -
nose rhin(o)- nas- -
ovary oophor(o)- ovari(o)- -
pelvis pyel(o)- pelv(i)- -
penis pe(o)- - -
pupil (of the eye) cor-, core-, coro- - -
rib pleur(o)- cost(o)- -
rib cage thorac(i)-, thorac(o)- - -
shoulder om(o)- humer(o)- -
sinus - sinus- -
skin dermat(o)- (derm-) cut-, cuticul- -
skull crani(o)- - -
stomach gastr(o)- ventr(o)- -
testis orchi(o)-, orchid(o)- - -
throat (upper throat cavity) pharyng(o)- - -
throat (lower throat cavity/voice box]) laryng(o)- - -
thumb - pollic- -
tooth odont(o)- dent(i)- -
tongue gloss-, glott- lingu(a)- -
toe dactyl(o)- digit- -
tumour cel-, onc(o)- tum- -
ureter ureter(o)- ureter(o)- -
urethra urethr(o)-, urethr(a)- urethr(o)-, urethr(a)- -
urine, urinary System ur(o)- urin(o)- -
uterine tubes sarping(o)- sarping(o)- -
uterus hyster(o)-, metr(o)- uter(o)- -
vagina colp(o)- vagin- -
vein phleb(o)- ven- -
vulva episi(o)- vulv- -
womb hyster(o)-, metr(o)- uter(o)- -
wrist carp(o)- carp(o)- -

Roots of Color

Color Greek Root in English Latin Root in English Other Root
black melano- nigr- -
blue cyano- - -
gray, grey polio- - -
green chlor(o)- vir- -
purple porphyr(o)- purpur-, purpureo- -
red erythr(o)-, rhod(o)- rub-, rubr- -
red-yellow cirrh(o)- - -
white leuc-, leuk- alb- -
yellow xanth(o)- flav- jaun - [French]

Roots of Description

[Size, Shape, Strength, etc.]

Description Greek Root in English Latin Root in English Other Root
bad, incorrect cac(o)-, dys- mal(e)- -
bent, crooked ankyl(o)- prav(i)- -
big mega-, megal(o)- magn(i)- -
biggest megist- maxim- -
broad, wide eury- lat(i)- -
cold cry(o)- frig- -
dead necr(o)- mort- -
equal is(o)- equ(i)- -
false pseud(o)- fals(i)- -
female, feminine thely- - -
flat platy- plan(i)- -
good, well eu- ben(e)-, bon(i)- -
great mega-, megal(o)- magn(i)- -
hard scler(o)- dur(i)- -
heavy bar(o)- grav(i)- -
hollow coel(o)- cav- -
huge megal(o)- magn(i)- -
incorrect, bad cac(o)-, dys- mal(e)- -
large; extremely large mega- magn(i)- -
largest megist- maxim- -
long macr(o)- long(i)- -
male, masculine arseno- vir- -
narrow sten(o)- angust(i)- -
new neo- nov(i)- -
normal, correct; straight orth(o)- rect- -
old paleo- veter- -
sharp oxy- ac- -
short brachy- brev(i)- -
small micr(o)- parv(i)- (rare) -
smallest - minim- -
slow brady- tard(i)- -
fast tachy- celer- -
soft malac(o)- moll(i)- -
straight, normal, correct orth(o)- rect(i)- -
thick pachy- crass(i)- -
varied, various poikilo- vari- -
well, good eu- ben(e)- -
wide, broad eury- lat(i)- -

Roots of Position

Description Greek Root in English Latin Root in English Other Root
around peri- circum- -
left - sinistr- -
middle mes(o)- medi- -
right dexi(o)- dextr(o)- -
surrounding peri- circum- -

Roots of quantity

(Amount, Quantity)

Description Greek Root in English Latin Root in English Other Root
double diplo- dupli- -
equal iso- equi- -
few oligo- pauci- -
half hemi- semi- demi- (French)
many, much poly- multi- -
twice dis- bis- -

See also

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