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Medical Roots, Suffixes and Prefixes Glossary,_suffixes_and_prefixes

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This is a list of roots, suffixes, and prefixes used in medical terminology, their meanings, and their etymology. There are a few rules 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 meanings, origin, and an English example.


Prefix or suffix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
a-, an- Denotes an absence of Ancient Greek -/ν- (a-/an-), without, not Apathy, Analgia
ab- away from Latin Abduction
abdomin(o)- Of or relating to the abdomen Latin (abdōmen), abdomen, fat around the belly Abdomen
-ac, -acal pertaining to Greek -ακός (-akos) cardiac, hydrophobiac, pharmacomaniacal
acanth(o)- thorn or spine Ancient Greek κανθα (akantha), thorn acanthion, acanthocyte, acanthoma, acanthulus
acous(io)- Of or relating to hearing Greek κουστικός (acoustikos), of or for hearing acoumeter, acoustician
acr(o)- extremity, topmost Greek κρον (akron), highest or farthest point Acrocrany, acromegaly, acroosteolysis, acroposthia
-acusis hearing Greek κουστικός (acoustikos), of or for hearing paracusis
-ad toward, in the direction of dorsad
ad- increase, adherence, motion toward, very Latin Adduction
aden(o)-, aden(i)- Of or relating to a gland Ancient Greek δήν, δέν- (adēn, aden-), an acorn; a gland Adenocarcinoma, adenology, adenotome, adenotyphus
adip(o)- Of or relating to fat or fatty tissue Latin (adeps, adip-), fat Adipocyte
adren(o)- Of or relating to adrenal glands Latin adrenal artery
-aemia (BrE) blood condition Greek ναιμία, without blood Anaemia
aer(o)- air, gas Greek ήρ, έρος Aerosinusitis
aesthesio- (BrE) sensation Greek ασθησις Anesthesia
-al pertaining to Latin -alis abdominal
alb- Denoting a white or pale color Latin albus, white Albino
alge(si)- pain Greek λγος Analgesic
-algia pain Greek Myalgia
alg(i)o- pain Greek Myalgia
allo- Denoting something as different, or as an addition Ancient Greek λλος (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 membranous fetal sac (amnion) Greek μνιον Amniocentesis
amph-, amphi- on both sides Greek μφί (amphi) Amphicrania, amphismela, amphomycin
an- not, without Greek Analgesia
ana- back, again, up Greek Anaplasia
an(o) anus Latin
andr(o)- pertaining to a man Greek νήρ, νδρ- Andrology, android
angi(o)- blood vessel Greek γγεον Angiogram
aniso- Describing something as unequal Ancient Greek νσος (anīsos), unequal Anisotropic, anisocytosis
ankyl(o)-, ancyl(o)- Denoting something as crooked or bent Ancient Greek γκύλος (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 Ancient Greek πό Apoptosis
arch(i,e,o) first, primitive archinephron : first formed kidney
arteri(o)- Of or pertaining to an artery Ancient Greek ρτηρία (artēría), a wind-pipe, artery (used distinctly versus a vein) Artery, Arteriole
arthr(o)- Of or pertaining to the joints, limbs Ancient Greek αρθρος (arthros), a joint, limb Arthritis
articul(o)- joint Latin articulum Articulation
-ary pertaining to Latin -arius bilary tract
-ase enzyme Greek διάστασις, division Lactase
-asthenia weakness Greek, σθένεια Myasthenia gravis
atel(o) imperfect or incomplete development atelocardia : imperfect development of the heart
-ation process Latin
atri(o)- an atrium (esp. heart atrium) atrioventricular
aur(i)- Of or pertaining to the ear Latin (auris), the ear Aural
aut(o)- self Greek ατο- Autoimmune
aux(o)- increase; growth auxocardia : enlargement of the heart
axill- Of or pertaining to the armpit [uncommon as a prefix] Latin (axilla), armpit Axilla
azo(to) nitrogenous compound azothermia : raised temperature due to nitrogenous substances in blood


Prefix/suffix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
balano- Of the glans penis or glans clitoridis Greek βάλανος - balanos, acorn, glans Balanitis
bi- twice, double Latin
bio- life Ancient Greek βίος Biology
blast(o)- germ or bud Greek βλαστός 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), from Ancient Greek βραχίων (brachiōn), arm Brachium of inferior colliculus
brachy- Indicating 'short' or less commonly 'little' Ancient Greek βραχύς (brachys), short; little, shallow brachycephalic
brady- 'slow' Ancient Greek βραδύς (bradys), slow Bradycardia
bronch(i)- bronchus Bronchiolitis obliterans
bucc(o)- Of or pertaining to the cheek Latin (bucca), cheek Buccolabial
burs(o)- bursa (fluid sac between the bones) Latin Bursitis


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 Greek καρκίνος (karkinos), crab 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 should not be confused with the mirror root carp(o)- meaning fruit. Carpopedal
cata- down, under Greek κατά (kata) Cataract
-cele pouching, hernia Ancient Greek κήλη (kēlē) Hydrocele
-centesis surgical puncture for aspiration Ancient Greek κέντησις (kentēsis) Amniocentesis
cephal(o)- Of or pertaining to the head (as a whole) Ancient Greek κεφαλή (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 Greek χημεία 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 χλωρός (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 < χολή (cholē), bile, gall + κύστις (kýstis), bladder Cholecystectomy
chondr(i)o- cartilage, gristle, granule, granular Ancient Greek χονδρός (chondros) Chondrocalcinosis
chrom(ato)- color Ancient Greek χρμα Hemachromatosis
-cidal, -cide killing, destroying Latin bacteriocidal
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 κλαστός osteoclast
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 κρνίον (krānion), the cranium, skull, bones enclosing the brain Craniology
-crine to secrete Endocrine
cry(o)- cold Greek κρύος Cryoablation
cutane- skin Latin Subcutaneous
cyan(o)- Denotes a blue color Ancient Greek κύανος, κυάνεος (kýanos, kyáneos), blue Cyanopsia
cycl- circle, cycle Greek κύκλος (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 κύτος Cytokine
-cyte cell Greek Leukocyte


Prefix/suffix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
dacryo- tear Greek δάκρυ
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 δέσις (desis) arthrodesis
dextr(o)- right, on the right side Latin dexter Dextrocardia
di- two Greek δι-
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, twelve: upper part of the small intestine (twelve inches long on average), connects to the stomach Latin duodeni Duodenal atresia
dynam(o)- force, energy, power Greek δύναμις (dunamis)
-dynia pain Vulvodynia
dys- bad, difficult Greek δυσ- Dysphagia, dysphasia


Prefix/suffix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
-eal pertaining to Latin
ec- out, away Greek κ- (ek-)
ect(o)- outer, outside Greek κτός Ectopic pregnancy
-ectasis expansion, dilation Ancient Greek κτασις Bronchiectasis
-ectomy Denotes a surgical operation or removal of a body part. Resection, excision Ancient Greek κτομή (ectomē), excision Mastectomy
-emesis vomiting condition Greek μεσις Hematemesis
-emia blood condition (AmE) Greek ν-αιμία, without blood Anemia
encephal(o)- Of or pertaining to the brain. Also see Cerebro. Ancient Greek γκέφαλος (enképhalos), the brain Encephalogram
endo- Denotes something as 'inside' or 'within' Ancient Greek νδο- (endo-), inside, internal Endocrinology, Endospore
enter(o)- Of or pertaining to the intestine Ancient Greek ντερον (énteron), intestine Gastroenterology
epi- [Same as Greek meaning: on, upon] Ancient Greek πι- (epi-), before, upon, on, outside, outside of Epistaxis, epicardium, episclera, epidural
episi(o)- Of or pertaining to the pubic region, the loins Ancient Greek πίσιον- (epísion), the pubic area, loins; vulva Episiotomy
erythr(o)- Denotes a red color Ancient Greek ρυθρός (erythros), red Erythrocyte
-esophageal, -esophago gullet (AmE) Greek οσοφάγος
esthesio- sensation (AmE) Greek ασθησις
eu- true, good, well, new Greek Eukaryote
ex- out of, away from Latin
exo- Denotes something as 'outside' another Ancient Greek ξω- (exo-), outside of, external Exoskeleton
extra- outside Latin


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
fossa Latin (fossa), ditch, pit fossa ovalis
front- Of or pertaining to the forehead Latin (frōns, front-), the forehead Frontonasal


Prefix/suffix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
galact(o)- milk Greek γάλα, γαλακτ- Galactorrhea
gastr(o)- Of or pertaining to the stomach Ancient Greek γαστήρ (gastēr), γαστρ-, 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 Formative, pertaining to producing Greek 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 γλακος (glaúkos), grey, bluish-grey Glaucoma
gloss(o)-, glott(o)- Of or pertaining to the tongue Ancient Greek γλσσα, γλττα (glōssa, glōtta), tongue Glossology
gluco- glucose Greek γλυκός, sweet Glucocorticoid
glyco- sugar Glycolysis
gnath(o)- Of or pertaining to the jaw Ancient Greek γνάθος (gnáthos), jaw Gnathodynamometer
-gnosis knowledge Greek diagnosis, prognosis
gon(o)- seed, semen; also, reproductive Ancient Greek γόνος Gonorrhea
-gram record or picture Greek γράμμα 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 Greek γυνή, γυναικ- Gynecomastia


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 αμα, αματ- (haima, haimat-), blood Hematology, older form Haematology
hema or hemo- blood (AmE) Greek Hematological malignancy
hemi- one-half Ancient Greek μι- (hēmi-), "half" Cerebral hemisphere
hepat- (hepatic-) Of or pertaining to the liver Ancient Greek παρ, πατο- (hēpar, hēpato-), the liver Hepatology
heter(o)- Denotes something as 'the other' (of two), as an addition, or different Ancient Greek τερος (héteros), the other (of two), another; different Heterogeneous
hidr(o)- sweat Greek δρωτ- Hyperhidrosis
hist(o)-, histio- tissue Greek στός Histology
home(o)- similar Ancient Greek μοιος (homoios) Homeopathy
hom(o)- Denotes something as 'the same' as another or common Ancient Greek μο- (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 δωρ Hydrophobe
hyper- Denotes something as 'extreme' or 'beyond normal' Ancient Greek πέρ (hyper), over, above; beyond, to the extreme Hypertension
hyp(o)- Denotes something as 'below normal' Ancient Greek π(ο)- (hypo-), below, under Hypovolemia,
hyster(o)- Of or pertaining to the womb, the uterus Ancient Greek στέρα (hystéra), womb Hysterectomy


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


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


Prefix/suffix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
labi(o)- Of or pertaining to the lip Latin (labium), lip Labiodental
lacrim(o)- tear Latin Lacrimal canaliculi
lact(i)-, lact(o) milk Latin Lactation
lapar(o)- Of or pertaining to the abdomen-wall, flank Ancient Greek λαπάρ (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 Latin Lateral pectoral nerve
lei(o)- smooth Greek λεος Leiomyoma
-lepsis, -lepsy attack, seizure Greek λψις Epilepsy, narcolepsy
lept(o)- light, slender Greek λεπτός (leptos)
leuc(o)-, leuk(o)- Denoting a white color Ancient Greek λευκός (leukos), white, bright Leukocyte
lingu(a)-, lingu(o)- Of or pertaining to the tongue Latin (lingua), tongue Linguistics
lip(o)- fat Greek λίπος Liposuction
lith(o)- stone, calculus Greek λίθος Lithotripsy
log(o)- speech Greek λόγος
-logist Denotes someone who studies a certain field: _____-logy Ancient Greek λογιστής (logistēs), studier, practitioner Oncologist, pathologist
-logy Denotes the academic study or practice of a certain field Ancient Greek λόγoς (logos) study hematology, urology
lymph(o)- lymph Greek λέμφος, λύμφη Lymphedema
lys(o)-, -lytic dissolution Greek Lysosome
-lysis Destruction, separation Greek λύσις Paralysis


Prefix/suffix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
macr(o)- large, long Greek μακρός Macrophage
-malacia softening Greek μαλακία Osteomalacia
mamm(o)- Of or pertaining to the breast Latin (mamma), breast; udder Mammogram
mammill(o)- Of or pertaining to the nipple Latin (mammilla), nipple
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 Greek μέγας Splenomegaly
melan(o)- black color Ancient Greek μέλας, μελανο- (melas, melano-), black; dark Melanin
melos extremity Ancient Greek μέλος erythromelalgia
mening(o)- membrane Greek μνιγξ, μηνιγγ- Meningitis
mero- part Greek μέρος (meros), part merocrine, meroblastic
mes(o)- middle Ancient Greek μέσος (mesos), "middle" Mesoderm
meta- after, behind Greek μετά Metacarpus
-meter measurement Greek μέτρον Sphygmomanometer
-metry process of measuring Greek -μετρία Optometry
metr(o)- Pertaining to conditions or instruments of the uterus Ancient Greek μήτρ (mētrā), womb, uterus Metrorrhagia
micro- denoting something as small, or relating to smallness Ancient Greek μικρός (mikros), small Microscope
mon(o)- single Greek μονός Infectious mononucleosis
morph(o)- form, shape Greek μορφή Morphology
muscul(o)- muscle Latin Musculoskeletal system
my(o)- Of or relating to muscle Ancient Greek μς, μυ- (mys, my-), muscle; mouse; mussel Myoblast
myc(o)- fungus Greek μύκης, μυκητ- Onychomycosis
myel(o)- Of or relating to bone marrow Ancient Greek μυελόν (myelon), marrow; bone-marrow Myeloblast
myring(o)- eardrum Latin myringa Myringotomy
myx(o)- mucus Greek μύξα Myxoma


Prefix/suffix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
narc(o)- numb, sleep Greek νάρκη narcolepsy
nas(o)- Of or pertaining to the nose Latin (nāsum), nose nasal
necr(o)- death Greek νεκρός Necrotizing fasciitis
neo- new Greek νέος 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 νερον (neuron), tendon, sinew; nerve Neurofibromatosis
normo- normal Latin Normocapnia


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 δούς, δοντ- (odoús, odont-), tooth orthodontist
odyn(o)- pain Greek δύνη stomatodynia
-oesophageal, oesophago- (BrE) gullet Greek οσοφάγος
-oid resemblance to Greek -οειδής Sarcoidosis
ole small or little Latin
olig(o)- Denoting something as 'having little, having few' Ancient Greek λίγος (oligos), few Oligotrophy
om(o)- Of or pertaining to the shoulder Ancient Greek μός (ōmos), shoulder Omoplate
-oma (singular), -omata (plural) tumor, mass, collection Greek -ωμα Sarcoma, Teratoma
omphal(o)- Of or pertaining to the navel, the umbilicus Ancient Greek μφαλός (omphalós), navel, belly-button Omphalotomy
onco- tumor, bulk, volume Greek γκος Oncology
onych(o)- Of or pertaining to the nail (of a finger or toe) Ancient Greek < νυξ, νυχο- (ónyx, ónycho-), nail; claw; talon Onychophagy
oo- Of or pertaining to the an egg, a woman's egg, the ovum Ancient Greek όν, ο- (ōón, ōo-), egg, ovum Oogenesis
oophor(o)- Of or pertaining to the woman's ovary Neoclassical Greek οφόρον (ōophóron), ovary, egg-bearing Oophorectomy
ophthalm(o)- Of or pertaining to the eye Ancient Greek φθαλμός (ophthalmós), the eye Ophthalmology
optic(o)- Of or relating to chemical properties of the eye Middle French (optique) < Greek πτικός (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 ρχις (orkhis, orkhi-) Orchiectomy, Orchidectomy
orth(o)- Denoting something as straight or correct Ancient Greek ρθός (orthos), straight, correct, normal Orthodontist
-osis a condition, disease or increase Greek -ωσις Harlequin type ichthyosis, Psychosis, osteoperosis
osseo- bony Latin
ossi- bone Latin Peripheral ossifying fibroma
ost(e)-, oste(o)- bone Greek στέον Osteoporosis
ot(o)- Of or pertaining to the ear Ancient Greek ος, τ- (ous, ōt-), the ear Otopathy
-ous pertaining to Latin -osus
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 Greek ξύς
oxy- sharp, acid, acute, oxygen Greek ξύς


Prefix/suffix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
pachy- thick Greek παχύς 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 πς, 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 Ancient Greek παρά
-paresis slight paralysis Greek πάρεσις hemiparesis
parvo- small Latin parvus Parvovirus
path(o)- disease Greek πάθος Pathology
-pathy Denotes (with a negative sense) a disease, or disorder Ancient Greek πάθος (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 Latin Pelvis
-penia deficiency Greek πενία osteopenia
peo- Of or pertaining to the penis Greek πέος (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 Latin
peri- Denoting something with a position 'surrounding' or 'around' another Ancient Greek περί (peri), around Periodontal
-pexy fixation Greek πξις Nephropexy
phaco- lens-shaped Greek φακός phacolysis, phacometer, phacoscotoma
-phage, -phagia Forms terms denoting conditions relating to eating or ingestion Ancient Greek φαγία (phagía) eating < φαγεν (phagein) to eat Sarcophagia
-phago- eating, devouring Greek -φάγος phagocyte
phagist-: Forms nouns that denote a person who 'feeds on' the first element or part of the word Ancient Greek φαγιστής (phagistēs) eater; see -phagia Lotophagi
-phagy Forms nouns that denotes 'feeding on' the first element or part of the word Ancient Greek φαγία (phagia) eating; see -phagia Anthropophagy
phallo- phallus Greek φαλλός (phallos) Aphallia
pharmaco- drug, medication Greek φάρμακον pharmacology
pharyng(o)- Of or pertaining to the pharynx, the upper throat cavity Ancient Greek φάρυγξ, φαρυγγ- (phárynx, pháryng-), throat, windpipe; chasm Pharyngitis, Pharyngoscopy
-phil(ia) attraction for Greek φιλία Hemophilia
phleb(o)- Of or pertaining to the (blood) veins, a vein Ancient Greek φλέψ, φλεβ- (phleps, phlebo-), blood-vessel, vein Phlebography, Phlebotomy
phob(o)- exaggerated fear, sensitivity Greek φόβος arachnophobia
phon(o)- sound Greek φωνή
phos- Of or pertaining to light or its chemical properties, now historic and used rarely. See the common root phot(o)- below. Ancient Greek φς, φωτ- (phōs, phōt-), light Phosphene
phot(o)- Of or pertaining to light Ancient Greek φς, φωτ- (phōs, phōt-), light Photopathy
phren(i)-, phren(o)-, phrenico [[diaphragm (anatomy)|diaphragm], the mind] Greek φρήν, φρεν- Phrenic nerve, schizophrenia
-plasia formation, development Greek πλάσις Achondroplasia
-plasty surgical repair, reconstruction Greek πλαστός rhinoplasty
-plegia paralysis Greek πληγή paraplegia
pleio- more, excessive, multiple Greek pleion pleiomorphism
pleur(o)-, pleur(a) Of or pertaining to the ribs Latin (pleura) < Ancient Greek πλευρόν (pleurón), rib, side of the body Pleurogenous
-plexy stroke or seizure Greek πλξις Cataplexy
pneum(o)- Of or pertaining to the lungs Ancient Greek πνεύμων, πνευμον- (pneumōn, pneumon-), lung < πνεμα (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 Greek 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
pseudo- Denotes something false or fake
psych(e)-, psych(o) Of or pertaining to the mind Ancient Greek ψυχή (psyché), breath, life, soul Psychology, Psychiatry
-ptosis falling, drooping, downward placement, prolapse Apoptosis
-ptysis (a spitting), spitting, hemoptysis, the spitting of blood derived 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 Greek πύον Pyometra
pyro- fever Greek πρ, πυρετός Antipyretic


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


Prefix/suffix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
radio- radiation Latin radiowave
re- again, backward Latin relapse
rect(o)- rectum Latin
ren(o)- Of or pertaining to the kidney Latin (rēnes), kidney renal
reticul(o)- net Latin
retro- backward, behind Latin retroverted
rhabd(o)- rod shaped, striated Greek άβδος
rhachi(o)- spine Greek άχις rachial, rachialgia, rachidian, rachiopathy
rhin(o)- Of or pertaining to the nose Ancient Greek ίς, ῥῑνο- (rhīs, rhīno-), nose rhinoceros, rhinoplasty
rhod(o)- Denoting a rose-red color Ancient Greek όδον (rhódon), rose Rhodophyte
-rrhage burst forth Greek -ρραγία Hemorrhage
-rrhagia rapid flow of blood Greek -ρραγία
-rrhaphy surgical suturing Greek αφή
-rrhea (AmE) flowing, discharge Greek -ρροια Galactorrhea, Diarrhea
-rrhexis rupture Greek ῥῆξις
-rrhoea (BrE) flowing, discharge Greek -ρροια Diarrhoea
rubr(o)- Of or pertaining to the red nucleus of the brain Latin (ruber), red Rubrospinal


Prefix/suffix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
salping(o)- Of or pertaining to the fallopian tubes Ancient Greek σάλπιγξ, σαλπιγγ-, (sálpinx, salpingo-) trumpet (literally) Salpingectomy, Salpingopharyngeus muscle
sangui-, sanguine- Of or pertaining to blood Latin (sanguis, sanguin-), blood Sanguine
sarco- muscular, fleshlike Greek σάρξ, σαρκ- sarcoma
schist(o)- split, cleft Greek σχιστός (schistos)
schiz(o)- Denoting something 'split' or 'double-sided' Ancient Greek σχιζω; Irregular formation of the verb σχίζειν (schizein), to cut, split Schizophrenia
scler(o)- hardness Greek σκληρός atherosclerosis
-sclerosis hardening of the skin Greek Multiple sclerosis
scoli(o)- twisted Greek σκολιός (skolios) scoliosis
-scope instrument for viewing Greek -σκόπος stethoscope
-scopy use of instrument for viewing Greek -σκοπία endoscopy
semi- one-half, partly Latin
sial(o)- saliva, salivary gland Greek σίαλος (sialos) sialagogue
sigmoid(o)- sigmoid, sigmoid colon Greek σιγμοειδής
sinistr(o)- left, left side Latin
sinus- Of or pertaining to the sinus Latin (sinus), a curve, bend, bay Sinusitis
sito- food, grain Greek στος
somat(o)-, somatico- body, bodily Greek σμα
spasmo- spasm Greek σπασμός
sperma-, spermo-, spermato- semen, spermatozoa Greek σπέρμα (sperma) Spermatogenesis
splanchn(i)-, splanchn(o)- viscera Greek σπλάγχνον
splen(o)- spleen Greek σπλήν, σπλην- Splenectomy
spondyl(o)- Of or pertaining to the spine, the vertebra Greek σπόνδυλος / σφόνδυλος, (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 στάσις
-staxis dripping, trickling Greek στακτός
sten(o)- Denoting something as 'narrow in shape' or pertaining to narrow-ness Ancient Greek στενός (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 στθος (stēthos), chest, cuirass Stethoscope
stheno- strength, force, power Greek σθένος
stom(a) mouth Greek στόμα stomatognathic system
stomat(o)- Of or pertaining to the mouth Ancient Greek στόμα, στοματ- (stóma, stomat-), mouth Stomatogastric
-stomy creation of an opening Greek -στομία 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


Prefix/suffix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
tachy- Denoting something as fast, irregularly fast Ancient Greek ταχύς (tachys), fast, quickly Tachycardia
-tension, -tensive pressure Latin Hypertension
tetan- rigid, tense tetanus
thec- case, sheath Ancient Greek θήκη (theke) Intrathecal
thel(e)-, thel(o)- Of or pertaining to a nipple [uncommon as a prefix] Ancient Greek θηλή (thēlē), a teat, nipple Theleplasty
thely- Denoting something as 'relating to a woman, feminine' Ancient Greek θλυς (thēlys), female, feminine Thelygenous
therm(o)- heat Ancient Greek θερμός
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 Greek θυρεο-ειδής
thym(o)(ia)- emotions Greek: "thymos," spirit, soul; courage; breath, mind, emotions dysthymia
-tic pertaining to Greek -τικός
toco- childbirth Greek τόκος
-tome cutting instrument Greek τομή
-tomy act of cutting; incising, incision Greek -τομία Gastrotomy
tono- tone, tension, pressure Greek τόνος
-tony tension Greek -τονία
top(o)- place, topical Greek τόπος
tox(i)-, tox(o)-, toxico- toxin, poison Greek τοξικόν Toxoplasmosis
trache(o)- trachea Greek τραχεία
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 θρίξ, τριχ(ο)- (thríx, trich(o)-), hair Trichocyst
-tripsy crushing Greek τρίψις Lithotripsy
-trophy nourishment, development Greek -τροφία, τροφή Pseudohypertrophy
tympan(o)- eardrum Greek τύμπανον Tympanocentesis


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 ορον (ouron), urine Urology
uri(c)-, urico- uric acid Greek ορικός
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


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 Latin varicose
vas(o)- duct, blood vessel Latin vasoconstriction
vasculo- blood vessel Latin
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


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
xen(o)- Foreign, different Greek ξένος (xenos), stranger Xenograft


Prefix/suffix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
-y condition or process of Latin -ia < Greek -ία Surgery


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

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 salping(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-, mammill- -
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(i)- -
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(i)- -
huge megal(o)- magn(i)- -
incorrect, bad cac(o)-, dys- mal(e)- -
irregular poikil(o) -
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 orth(o)- rect(i)- -
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 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 levo- laev(o)-, 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 all medical glossaries:

Published - February 2011

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