Medical terminology


From Rx-wiki

This article is based off of an article originally appearing on Wikipedia at,_suffixes_and_prefixes.

This is a list of roots, suffixes, and prefixes used in medical terminology, their meanings, and their etymology. Most of them are classical compound|combining forms in New Latin and hence international scientific vocabulary. There are a few general rules about how they combine. First, prefixes and suffixes, most of which are derived from ancient Greek or classical 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/o- + -itis = arthritis, instead of *arthr-o-itis. Second, medical roots generally go together according to language, i.e., Greek prefixes occur with Greek suffixes and Latin prefixes with Latin suffixes. Although international scientific vocabulary is not stringent about segregating combining forms of different languages, it is advisable when coining new words not to mix different lingual roots.

Prefixes, root words, and suffixes

The following is an alphabetical list of medical prefixes, root words, and suffixes, along with their meanings, origin, and English examples.


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Examples
a-, an- not, without Ancient Greek ἀ-/ἀν- (a-/an-), not, without Analgesic, apathy
ab- from; 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
acanth/o- thorn or spine ἄκανθα (akantha), thorn acanthion, acanthocyte, acanthoma, acanthulus
acid/o acid, sour, bitter Latin acidus acidity
acous/io- hearing Greek ἀκουστικός (acoustikos), of or for hearing acoumeter, acoustician
acr/o- extremity, topmost ἄκρον (akron), highest or farthest point Acrocrany, acromegaly, acroosteolysis, acroposthia
acu- needle Latin acus acupuncture
acu/o, acut/o sharp, severe Latin acutus subacute
-acusis hearing Greek ἀκουστικός (acoustikos), of or for hearing paracusis
-ad toward, in the direction of Latin dorsad
ad- at, increase, on, toward Latin Adduction
aden/o-, aden/i- Of or relating to a gland ἀδήν, ἀδέν- (adēn, aden-), an acorn; a gland Adenocarcinoma, adenology, adenotome, adenotyphus
adip/o- Of or relating to fat or fatty tissue adeps, adip-), fat Adipocyte
adren/o- Of or relating to adrenal glands Latin adrenal artery
-aemia blood condition Greek ἀναιμία, without blood Anaemia
aer/o- air, gas ἀήρ, ἀέρος Aerosinusitis
aesthesio- sensation αἴσθησις Anesthesia
agit/o rapidity, restlessnes Latin agitō agitophasia
-al pertaining to Latin -alis abdominal, femoral
alb- Denoting a white or pale color albus, white Albino
alge/si- pain ἄλγος Analgesic
-algia, alg/i/o- pain Greek Myalgia
all/o- Denoting something as different, or as an addition ἄλλος (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
ambul/o to walk Latin ambulō ambulatory
amni- Pertaining to the membranous fetal sac (amnion) Greek ἄμνιον Amniocentesis
amph/i-, on both sides ἀμφί (amphi) Amphicrania, amphismela, amphomycin
amylo- starchy, carbohydrate-related Latin amylum (starch) Amylase, amylophagia
an- not, without Greek Analgesia
ana- back, again, up Greek Anaplasia
an- anus Latin anal
andr/o- pertaining to a man ἀνήρ, ἀνδρ- Android, andrology, androgen
angi/o- blood vessel Greek ἀγγεῖον Angiogram
aniso- Describing something as unequal Ancient Greek ἄνῑσος (anīsos), unequal Anisocytosis, anisotropic
ankyl/o-, ancyl/o- Denoting something as crooked or bent Ancient Greek ἀγκύλος (ankýlos), crooked, curved Ankylosis
anomal/o irregular Ancient Greek ἀνώμαλος (anṓmalos) anomaly
ante- Describing something as positioned in front of another thing Latin (āntē), before, in front of antepartum
anthrac/o coal, carbon, carbuncle anthracosis
anthrop/o man, human being Ancient Greek ἄνθρωπος ‎(ánthrōpos) anthropometry
anti- Describing something as 'against' or 'opposed to' another Ancient Greek αντι (anti), against Antibody, antipsychotic
antr/o antrum antrotomy
aphth/o ulcer aphthosis
apic/o apex apicotomy
apo- away, separated from, derived from ἀπό Apoptosis
aque/o water aqueous
arch- first, primitive Ancient Greek archinephron
arsen/o- Of or pertaining to a male; masculine Greek (arsein) arsenoblast
arteri/o- Of or pertaining to an artery ἀρτηρία (artēría), a wind-pipe, artery (used distinctly versus a vein) Arteriole, artery
arthr/o- Of or pertaining to the joints, limbs Ancient Greek αρθρος (arthros), a joint, limb Arthritis
articul/o- joint articulus Articulation
-ary pertaining to Latin -arius biliary tract
-ase enzyme Greek διάστασις, division Lactase
-asthenia weakness Greek, ἀσθένεια Myasthenia gravis
atel/o- imperfect or incomplete development atelocardia
ather/o- fatty deposit, soft gruel-like deposit Atherosclerosis
-ation process Latin medication
atmo- steam, vapor atmometer
atri/o- an atrium (esp. heart atrium) Latin atrioventricular
aur/i- Of or pertaining to the ear Latin (auris), the ear Aural
aut/o- self Greek αὐτο- Autoimmune
aux/o- increase; growth Auxocardia  : enlargement of the heart, Auxology
axill- Of or pertaining to the armpit (uncommon as a prefix) Latin (axilla), armpit Axilla
axi/o axis abaxial
azo/to- nitrogenous compound azothermia : raised temperature due to nitrogenous substances in blood


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
bacteri/o- Pertaining to bacteria Latin bacterium; Ancient Greek βακτήριον ("baktḗrion"), “small staff” Bacteriophage, Bactericide
balano- Of the glans penis or glans clitoridis βάλανος (bálanos), acorn, glans Balanitis
bar/o weight, pressure barotrauma
bary- heavy, dull, hard baryphonia
bas/o- Of or pertaining to base βάσις (básis), "foundation", "base" Basolateral
-basia walking brachybasia
bathy-, batho- deep, depth bathycardia
bi- twice, double Latin Binary
bio- life βίος (bíos) Biology
blast/o- germ or bud βλαστός (blastós) Blastomere
blephar/o- Of or pertaining to the eyelid Ancient Greek βλέφαρον (blépharon), eyelid Blepharoplast
brachi/o- Of or relating to the arm Latin bracchium, from Ancient Greek βραχίων (brachiōn), arm Brachium of inferior colliculus
brachy- Indicating 'short' or less commonly 'little' βραχύς (brachys), short, little, shallow brachycephalic
brady- 'slow' βραδύς (bradys), slow Bradycardia
bronch/i- of or relating to the bronchus Latin bronchus; Ancient Greek βρόγχος (brónkhos), windpipe Bronchitis, bronchiolitis obliterans
bucc/o- Of or pertaining to the cheek Latin bucca, cheek Buccolabial
burs/o- bursa (fluid sac between the bones) Latin bursa, purse; Ancient Greek βύρσα (búrsa), hide, wine-skin Bursa, bursitis


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
-calculia to compute dyscalculia
calor/i heat calorimetry
campt/o bent camptocormia
capill- Of or pertaining to hair Latin capillus, hair Capillus
capit- Pertaining to the head (as a whole) caput, capit-), the head Capitation
capsul/o, caps/o capsule, container capsulitis
carcin/o- cancer καρκίνος (karkinos), crab Carcinoma
cardi/o- Of or pertaining to the heart καρδία (kardía), heart Cardiology
cari/o caries, rottenness cariogenic
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 κατά (kata) Cataract, catabolism
-cataphasia affirmation acataphasia
cathar/o, cathart/o cleansing, purging catharsis
sitting acathisia
caud/o tail caudal
cavit/o, cav/o hollow, cavity cavitation
-cele pouching, hernia κήλη (kēlē) Hydrocele, Varicocele
-centesis aspiration Ancient Greek κέντησις (kentēsis) Amniocentesis
cephal/o- Of or pertaining to the head (as a whole) κεφαλή (képhalē), the head Cephalalgy, hydrocephalus
cerat/o- cornu; a horn 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, neck, cervix Cervicodorsal
chem/o- chemistry, drug χημεία Chemotherapy
chir/o-, cheir/o- Of or pertaining to the hand χείρ, χειρο- (cheir, cheiro-), hand Chiropractor
chlor/o- Denoting a green color χλωρός (chloros), green, yellow-green Chlorophyll
chol/e- Of or pertaining to bile χολή (cholē), bile Cholaemia (UK)/ Cholemia (US), Cholecystitis
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 χονδρός (chondros) Chondrocalcinosis
chrom/ato- color Ancient Greek χρῶμα (chrōma) Hemochromatosis
chron/o time, timing Chronobiology
-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 cis cisgender
cis/o to cut Latin incision
clast break Greek κλαστός "broken" osteoclast
clin/o to slope, bend clinocephaly
clostr- spindle Greek κλωστήρ (klōstēr) Clostridium difficile
co- with, together, in association Latin coenzymes
-coimesis sleeping dyscoimesis
col-, colo-, colono- colon κόλον (kólon) Colonoscopy
colp/o- Of or pertaining to the vagina Ancient Greek κόλπος (kólpos), bosom, womb; hollow, depth Colposcopy
com- with, together Latin cum
-coma deep sleep semicoma
consci/o awareness, aware unconscious
constrict/o narrowing, binding vasoconstriction
contra against Latin Contraindicate
contus/o to bruise contusion
cor- with, together Latin corrective
cor- Of or pertaining to eye's pupil Ancient Greek κόρη (kórē), girl, doll; pupil of the eye Corectomy
cord- 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" Greater cornu
coron/o- pertaining to heart Latin corōna coronary heart disease
corpor/o body corporeal
cost- 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- cranium Latin cranium; Ancient Greek κρᾱνίον (krānion), the cranium, skull, bones enclosing the brain Craniology
-crine, crin/o to secrete εκκρίνει ecrine Endocrine
critic/o crisis, dangerous critical
cry/o- cold κρύος Cryoablation
cutane- skin cutis 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 κύστις κύστις (kýstis); bladder, cyst Cystotomy
cyt/o-, -cyte cell κύτος Cytokine, leukocyte


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
dacry/o- Of or pertaining to tears δάκρυ, tear Dacryoadenitis, dacryocystitis
-dactyl/o- Of or pertaining to a finger, toe δάκτυλος (dáktylos), finger, toe dactylology, polydactyly
de- from, down, or not Latin de- dehydrate
dem/o people epidemic
dent- Of or pertaining to teeth Latin (dens, dentis), tooth Dentist
dermat/o-, derm/o- Of or pertaining to the skin δέρμα, δέρματος (dérma, dérmat-), skin, human skin Dermatology, epidermis, hypodermic, xeroderma
desicc/o to dry electrodesiccation
-desis binding Greek δέσις (désis) arthrodesis
dextr/o- right, on the right side Latin dexter Dextrocardia
di- two Greek δι- Diplopia
di- apart, separation Latin dilation, distal
dia- through, during, across διά (diá), through, during, across dialysis
dif- apart, separation Latin different
digit- Of or pertaining to the finger [rare as a root] Latin (digitus), finger, toe Digit
dilat/o enlarge, expand vasodilator
diplo- twofold διπλόος (diplóos) diploid, diplosis
-dipsia suffix meaning "(condition of) thirst"' δίψα (dípsa) dipsomania, hydroadipsia, oligodipsia, polydipsia
dis- separation, taking apart Latin dis- Dissection
dolich/o long dolichofacial
dolor/o pain dolorogenic
dors/o-, dors/i- Of or pertaining to the back Latin (dorsum), back dorsal, dorsocephalad
dromo- running, conduction, course δρόμος (drómos) Dromotropic, syndrome
duct/o to lead conduction
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 δύναμις (dúnamis) Hand strength dynamometer
-dynia pain Vulvodynia
dys- bad, difficult, defective, abnormal Greek δυσ- (dus-) dysentery, dysphagia, dysphasia


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
-eal pertaining to Latin esophageal, Perineum|perineal
ec- out, away Greek ἐκ- (ek-) Ectopia, ectopic pregnancy
echin/o spiny, prickly echinocyte
ect/o- outer, outside Greek ἐκτός (ektós) Ectoblast, ectoderm
dilation Ancient Greek ἔκτασις (éktasis) Bronchiectasis, telangiectasia
-ectomy Denotes a surgical operation or removal of a body part. Resection, excision Ancient Greek ἐκτομή (ektomḗ), excision Mastectomy
ectr/o congenital absence ectrogeny
electr/o- electric Latin electrum, Ancient Greek ἤλεκτρον ‎(ḗlektron) electroencephalogram
ele/o oil eleoma
-emesis vomiting condition Greek ἕμεσις (émesis) Hematemesis
-emia blood condition Greek ἀν-αιμία, without blood Anemia
emmetr/o the correct measure, proportioned emmetropia
enanti/o opposite, opposed enantiobiosis
encephal/o- Of or pertaining to the brain. Also see Cerebro. Ancient Greek ἐγκέφαλος (enképhalos), the brain Encephalogram
endo- Denotes something as 'inside' or 'within' ἐνδο- (endo-), inside, internal Endocrinology, endospore
enter/o- intestine Ancient Greek ἔντερον (énteron), intestine Gastroenterology
eosin/o- Red Ancient Greek Eos, the Greek word for 'dawn' and the name of the Greek goddess of the dawn. Eosinophil granulocyte
epi- on, upon Ancient Greek ἐπι- (epi-), before, upon, on, outside, outside of epidermis, epidural, episclera, epistaxis
episi/o- Of or pertaining to the pubic region, the loins Ancient Greek ἐπίσιον- (epísion), the pubic area, loins; vulva Episiotomy
equi- equality, equal equilibrium
erethism/o irritation erethismic
erythr/o- Denotes a red color Ancient Greek ἐρυθρός (erythrós), red Erythrocyte
-esophageal, -esophago- gullet Greek οἰσοφάγος (oisophágos) Esophagus
esthesio- sensation Greek αἴσθησις (aisthēsis) Esthesia
eti/o cause etiology
eu- true, good, well, new εὖ () Eukaryote
ex- out of, away from Latin Excision
exo- Denotes something as 'outside' another Ancient Greek ἐξω- (exo-), outside of, external Exophthalmos, exoskeleton
extra- outside Latin Extradural hematoma


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
faci/o- Of or pertaining to the face Latin faciēs, the face, countenance Facioplegic
-facient to cause, make happen liquefacient
febr/i fever febriphobia
fibr- fiber Latin fibra, fiber, filament, entrails fibril, fibrin, fibrinous pericarditis, fibroblast
filament/o thread, threadlike filamentous
filli- fine, hair-like Latin (filum), thread
foramen hole, opening, or aperature, particularly in bone Latin Foramen magnum
-form Used to form adjectives indicating 'having the form of' Latin (forma), form, shape cruciform, cuneiform, falciform
fore- before or ahead foregut
fossa A hollow or depressed area; trench or channel Latin (fossa), ditch, pit fossa ovalis
frig/o, frigid/o cold frigorism
front- Of or pertaining to the forehead Latin (frōns, front-), the forehead frontonasal
funct/o performance dysfunctional


Affix 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
gel/o to freeze, congeal gelosis
gemell/o twins gemellology
-gen producing, generating, production, formation Ancient Greek -γενής (-genēs), from γεν-νάειν (gen-náein), to be born Endogen; Heterogenous
-genic Formative, pertaining to producing Greek Cardiogenic shock
genu- Of or pertaining to the knee Latin (genū), knee Genu valgum
aged, old age geriatrics
-geusia Taste γεῦσις (geusis) Ageusia, dysgeusia, hypergeusia, hypogeusia, parageusia
gingiv- Of or pertaining to the gums Latin gingīva, gum Gingivitis
glauc/o- Denoting a grey or bluish-grey colour γλαυκός (glaukos), grey, bluish-grey Glaucoma
gloss/o-, glott/o- Of or pertaining to the tongue γλῶσσα, γλῶττα (glōssa, glōtta), tongue Glossology
gluco- sweet Greek γλυκός, sweet Glucocorticoid
glyc/o- sugar Ancient Greek 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
-grade step centigrade
record or picture Greek γράμμα (gramma) Angiogram
-graph instrument used to record data or picture Ancient Greek -γραφία (-graphía), written, drawn, graphic interpretation Electrocardiograph
-graphy process of recording Ancient Greek Angiography
gyno-, gynaeco- (BrE), gyneco- (AmE) woman Greek γυνή, γυναικ- Gynecomastia


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
halluc- to wander in mind Classical Latin to wander in mind Hallucinosis
hapl/o simple, single haploid
hemat-, haemato- (haem-, hem-) Of or pertaining to blood Latin (hæma) < Ancient Greek αἵμα, αἱματ- (haima, haimat-), blood Hematology, older form Haematology
hema- or hemo- blood (AmE) Greek Hemal, Hemoglobin
hemangi or hemangio- blood vessels Hemangioma
hemi- one-half Ancient Greek ἡμι- (hēmi-), "half" Cerebral hemisphere
hepat- (hepatic-) Of or pertaining to the liver Ancient Greek ἥπαρ, ἡπατο- (hēpar, hēpato-), the liver Hepatology
heredo- heredity heredoimmunity
heter/o- Denotes something as 'the other' (of two), as an addition, or different Ancient Greek ἕτερος (héteros), the other (of two), another; different Heterogeneous
-hexia condition cachexia
hidr/o- sweat Greek ἱδρωτ- Hyperhidrosis
hist/o-, histio- tissue Greek ἱστός Histology
home/o- similar Ancient Greek ὅμοιος (homoios) Homeopathy
hom/o- Denotes something as 'the same' as another or common Ancient Greek ὁμο- (homo-), the same, common Homosexuality
humero- Of or pertaining to the shoulder (or [rarely] the upper arm) Latin (umerus), shoulder Humerus
hydr/o- water Greek ὕδωρ Hydrophobe
hyper- Denotes something as 'extreme' or 'beyond normal' Ancient Greek ὑπέρ (hyper), over, above; beyond, to the extreme Hypertension
hyp/o- Denotes something as 'below normal' Ancient Greek ὑπ(ο)- (hypo-), below, under Hypovolemia,
hyster/o- Of or pertaining to the womb, the uterus Ancient Greek ὑστέρα (hystéra), womb Hysterectomy, Hysteria


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
-i-asis condition, formation, or presence of Greek -ίασις Mydriasis
iatr/o- Of or pertaining to medicine, or a physician [uncommon as a prefix; common as a 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
-ician specialist clinician
-icle small Latin Ovarian follicle
-ics organized knowledge, treatment Latin -ica < Greek < -ικά Obstetrics
idio- self, one's own Greek ἴδιος, idios, "one's own" Idiopathic
ileo- ileum Greek ἰλεός Ileocecal valve
infra- below Latin Infrahyoid muscles
inter- between, among Latin Interarticular ligament
intra- within Latin intramural
ion/o ion ionophoresis
ipsi- same Latin Ipsilateral
irid/o- iris Greek ἴρις Iridectomy
isch- restriction Greek ἴσχω Ischemia
ischio- Of or pertaining to the ischium, the hip-joint Ancient Greek ἰσχιόν (ischión), hip-joint, ischium Ischioanal fossa
-ism condition, disease Dwarfism
-ismus spasm, contraction Greek -ισμός Hemiballismus
iso- Denoting something as being 'equal' Ancient Greek ἴσος (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


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
juxta (iuxta) Near to, alongside or next to Latin Juxtaglomerular apparatus


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
kal- potassium Hyperkalemia
karyo- nucleus Greek κάρυον, "nut" Eukaryote
kel/o tumor, fibrous growth keloid
kerat/o- cornea (eye or skin) Greek Keratoscope
kin/e-, kin/o, kinesi/o- movement Greek κινέω Kinesthesia
koil/o- hollow Greek κοῖλος (koilos) Koilocyte
kraur/o dry kraurosis
kym/o waves kymography
kyph/o- humped Greek κυφός Kyphoscoliosis


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
labi/o- Of or pertaining to the lip Latin (labium), lip Labiodental
-labile unstable, perishable frigolabile
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 λαπάρᾱ (lapárā), flank Laparotomy
laryng/o- voice box is Ancient Greek λάρυγξ, λαρυγγ- (lárynx, laryng-), throat, gullet Larynx
latero- side, lateral Latin Lateral pectoral nerve
lei/o- smooth Greek λεῖος Leiomyoma
attack, seizure Greek λῆψις Epilepsy, narcolepsy
lept/o- light, slender Greek λεπτός (leptos) Leptomeningeal
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
ligat/o binding, tying ligature
lim/o hunger bulimia
lip/o- fat Greek λίπος (lipos) Liposuction
lith/o- calculus Greek λίθος (lithos) Lithotripsy
log/o- speech Greek λόγος (logos)
-logist Denotes someone who studies a certain field: _____-logy; a specialist; one who treats Ancient Greek λογιστής (logistēs), studier, practitioner Oncologist, pathologist
-logy Denotes the academic study or practice of a certain field; The study of Ancient Greek λόγoς (logos) study hematology, urology
-lucent light-admitting radiolucent
lumb/o-, lumb/a- Of or relating to the part of the trunk between the lowest ribs and the pelvis. Latin (lumbus or lumbaris) loin Lumbar vertebrae
lumin/o light luminescence
ly/o dissolve, loosen lyoenzyme
lymph/o- lymph Greek λέμφος, λύμφη Lymphedema
dissolution Greek Lysosome
-lysis Destruction, separation Greek λύσις Paralysis


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
macr/o- large, long Greek μακρός Macrophage
-malacia softening 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 mammillaplasty, mammillitis
manu- Of or pertaining to the hand Latin (manus), hand Manufacture
-masesis mastication, chewing dysmasesis
mast/o- Of or pertaining to the breast Ancient Greek μαστός (mastós), breast, women's breast; man's pectoral muscle Mastectomy
medi/o middle medial
medic/o heal, healing medical
meg/a-, megal/o-, -megaly enlargement, million Greek μέγας Splenomegaly, megameter
melan/o- black color Ancient Greek μέλας, μελανο- (melas, melano-), black; dark Melanin
melos extremity Ancient Greek μέλος erythromelalgia
mening/o- membrane Greek μῆνιγξ, μηνιγγ- Meningitis
men/o- month, menstrual cycle μήν (mḗn), month menopause, menorrhagia,
mero- part Greek μέρος (meros), part merocrine, meroblastic
mes/o- middle Ancient Greek μέσος (mesos), "middle" Mesoderm
meta- after, beyond or change Greek μετά Metacarpus
-meter instrument used to measure or count Greek μέτρον Sphygmomanometer
method/o procedure, technique methodology
-metry process of measuring Greek -μετρία 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, millionth Ancient Greek μικρός (mikros), small Microscope
milli- thousandth Latin mille, thousand milliliter
-mimesis imitation, simulation pathomimesis
mon/o- single Greek μονός (monos) Infectious mononucleosis
morph/o- form, shape Greek μορφή (morphē) Morphology
mort/o death mortician
muscul/o- muscle Latin Musculoskeletal system
my/o- Of or relating to muscle Ancient Greek μῦς, μυ- (mys, my-), muscle; mouse; mussel Myoblast
myc/o- fungus Greek μύκης, μυκητ- Onychomycosis
myel/o- Of or relating to bone marrow or spinal cord Ancient Greek μυελόν (myelon), marrow; bone-marrow Myeloblast
myl/o- Of or relating to molar teeth or lower jaw Greek (myle) Mylohyoid nerve
myri- ten thousand Ancient Greek μύριοι (mýrioi), myriad myriad
myring/o- eardrum Latin myringa Myringotomy
myx/o- mucus Greek μύξα Myxoma


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
narc/o- numb, sleep Greek νάρκη narcolepsy
nas/o- nose Latin (nāsum), nose nasal
necr/o- death Greek νεκρός Necrosis, 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, nervous system
neur/i-, neur/o- Of or pertaining to nerves and the nervous system Ancient Greek νεῦρον (neuron), tendon, sinew; nerve Neurofibromatosis
noci- pain, injury, hurt Latin (noceo) Nociception
nom/o custom, law nomotopic
nomen- name nomenclature
normo- normal Latin Normocapnia
nos/o disease nosology
nucle/o nucleus nucleoplasm
nourish nutrition


Affix 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 ὀδούς, ὀδοντ- (odoús, odont-), tooth orthodontist
odyn/o- pain Greek ὀδύνη stomatodynia
-oesophageal, oesophago- (BrE) gullet Greek οἰσοφάγος oesophagus
-oid resemblance to Greek -οειδής Sarcoidosis
ole small or little Latin
ole/o oil oleovitamin
olig/o- Denoting something as 'having little, having few' Ancient Greek ὀλίγος (oligos), few Oligotrophy
om/o- shoulder Ancient Greek ὠμός (ōmos), shoulder Omoplate
-oma (singular), -omata (plural) tumor, mass, fluid collection Greek -ωμα Sarcoma, teratoma
omphal/o- umbilicus Ancient Greek ὀμφαλός (omphalós), navel, belly-button Omphalotomy
onco- tumor, bulk, volume Greek ὄγκος Oncology
-one hormone
onych/o- Of or pertaining to the nail (of a finger or toe) Ancient Greek ὄνυξ, ὀνυχο- (ónyx, ónycho-), nail; claw; talon Onychophagy
oo- Of or pertaining to the an (egg), a woman's egg, the ovum Ancient Greek ᾠόν, ᾠο- (ōón, ōo-), egg, ovum Oogenesis
oophor/o- Of or pertaining to the woman's (ovary) Neoclassical Greek ᾠοφόρον (ōophóron), ovary, egg-bearing Oophorectomy
ophthalm/o- Of or pertaining to the (eye) Ancient Greek ὀφθαλμός (ophthalmós), the eye Ophthalmology
optic/o- Of or relating to chemical properties of the eye Middle French (optique) < Greek ὀπτικός (optikós); ώψ (opsi), vision. Cognate with Latin oculus, relating to the eye Opticochemical, biopsy
or/o- Of or pertaining to the mouth Latin (ōs, or-), mouth Oral
-or one who doctor
orchi/o-, orchid/o-, orch/o- testis Greek ὀρχις (orkhis, orkhi-) Orchiectomy, orchidectomy
organ/o organ organomegaly
orth/o- Denoting something as straight or correct Ancient Greek ὀρθός (orthós), straight, correct, normal Orthodontist
-osis a condition, disease or increase Greek -ωσις Harlequin type ichthyosis, psychosis, osteoporosis
osse- bony Latin Osseous
ossi- bone Latin Peripheral ossifying fibroma
ost/e-, oste/o- bone Greek ὀστέον Osteoporosis
ot/o- Of or pertaining to the ear Ancient Greek οὖς, ὠτ- (ous, ōt-), the ear Otology
-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 ὀξύς
oxy- sharp, acid, acute, oxygen Greek ὀξύς(oxus)


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Examples
pachy- thick Greek παχύς pachyderma
palliat/o soothe, relieve palliative
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 πᾶς, παν- (pas, pan-), all, every panophobia, panopticon
papill- Of or pertaining to the nipple (of the chest/breast) Latin (papilla), nipple; diminutive 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
par/a- alongside of Ancient Greek παρά (para) paracyesis
-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
pauci- Few Latin paucus Pauci-immune
pector- breast or chest Latin pectus pectoralgia, pectoriloquy, pectorophony
Of or pertaining to the foot; -footed pēs, pēd-, foot Pedoscope
ped-, pedo- Of or pertaining to the child Ancient Greek παιδός, child pediatrics. pedophilia
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 percutaneous
peri- Denoting something with a position 'surrounding' or 'around' another Ancient Greek περί (peri), around Periodontal
-pexy fixation Greek πῆξις Nephropexy
phaco- lens-shaped Greek φακός phacolysis, phacometer, phacoscotoma
Forms terms denoting conditions relating to eating or ingestion Ancient Greek φαγία (phagía) eating < φαγεῖν (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 hematophagy
phallo- phallus Greek φαλλός (phallos) Aphallia
pharmaco- drug, medication Greek φάρμακον pharmacology
pharyng/o- 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
-phobia exaggerated fear, sensitivity, aversion Greek φόβος arachnophobia
phon/o- sound Greek φωνή phonograph, symphony
phos- Of or pertaining to light or its chemical properties, now historic and used rarely. See the common root phot(o)- below. Ancient Greek φῶς, φωτ- (phōs, phōt-), light Phosphene
phot/o- Of or pertaining to light Ancient Greek φῶς, φωτ- (phōs, phōt-), light Photopathy
phren/i-, phren/o-, phrenico the mind φρήν, φρεν- diaphragm
phyl/o race, species, type phylogenesis
physi/o nature physiologist
physic/o physical, natural physicochemical
phyt- to grow hydrophyte
plant phytotoxin
pin/o to drink pinocytosis
piri- Pear Latin pirum, pear Piriformis muscle
plan/o flat, level, wandering planocellular
plant/o sole of the foot plantalgia
-plasia formation, development Greek πλάσις Achondroplasia
-plasm formation, growth neoplasm
-plasty surgical repair, reconstruction Greek πλαστός rhinoplasty
-plegia paralysis Greek πληγή paraplegia
pleio- more, excessive, multiple Greek pleion pleiomorphism
pleur- Of or pertaining to the ribs Latin (pleura) from Ancient Greek πλευρόν (pleurón), rib, side of the body Pleurogenous
plex/o network (nerves or vessels), plexus plexectomy
-plexy stroke or seizure Greek πλῆξις Cataplexy
pne-, pneum- air, breath, lung Ancient Greek πνεῖν (pneîn), πνεῦμα, πνεύματος (pneûma), πνεύμων (pneúmōn) apnea, pneumatology, pneumonocyte, pneumonia
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 πόρος (póros) pore
porphyr/o- Denotes a purple color Ancient Greek πορπύρα (porphýra), purple Porphyroblast
posit/o arrangement, place reposition
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 Premature birth
presby/o- old age Greek Presbyopia, presbycusis
prim- Denotes something as 'first' or 'most-important' 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
prosop/o- face Greek (prosopon), face, mask Prosopagnosia
prot/o- Denotes something as 'first' or 'most important' πρωτος (prōtos), first; principal, most important Protoneuron
prote/o protein proteolysis
psamm/o sand, sand-like material psammomatous
pseud/o- Denotes something false or fake Ancient Greek Pseudoephedrine
psych/e-, psych/o Of or pertaining to the mind ψυχή (psyché), breath, life, soul Psychology, psychiatry
pterygo- Pertaining to a wing Greek Lateral pterygoid plate
psor- Itching Psoriasis
-ptosis falling, drooping, downward placement, prolapse Apoptosis, nephroptosis
-ptysis (a spitting), spitting, hemoptysis, the spitting of blood derived from the lungs or bronchial tubes hemoptysis
pulmon-, pulmo- Of or relating to the lungs pulmo, pulmōn-, usually used in plural), a lung pulmonary
puls/o, pulsat/o to beat, beating pulsation
-puncture to pierce a surface venipuncture
purul/o pus formation purulrnt
pyel/o- pelvis Ancient Greek (pyelos) Pyelonephritis
pykno- to thicken (as the nucleus does in early stages of cell death) Greek πυκνωνω, to thicken/condense Pyknosis
py/o- pus Greek πύον Pyometra
fever, fire, heat Greek πῦρ, πυρετός Antipyretic


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


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
radi- radiation Latin radiowave
radic- referring to the beginning, or the root, of a structure, usually a nerve or a vein Latin (radix) root radiculopathy
re- again, back Latin relapse
receiver thermoreceptor
rect- rectum Latin
ren- Of or pertaining to the kidney Latin (rēnes), kidney renal
resuscit/o revive resuscitation
reticul/o- net Latin reticulocyte
retro- backward, behind Latin retroversion, retroverted
rhabd/o- rod shaped, striated Greek ῥάβδος rhabdomyolysis
rhachi/o- spine Greek ῥάχις rachial, rachialgia, rachidian, rachiopathy
rhin/o- Of or pertaining to the nose Ancient Greek ῥίς, ῥῑνο- (rhīs, rhīno-), nose rhinoceros, rhinoplasty
rhod/o- Denoting a rose-red color Ancient Greek ῥόδον (rhódon), rose rhodophyte
-rrhage burst forth Greek -ρραγία Hemorrhage
-rrhagia rapid flow of blood Greek -ρραγία menorrhagia
-rrhaphy surgical suturing Greek ῥαφή
-rrhea flowing, discharge Greek -ρροια Galactorrhea, Diarrhea
-rrhexis rupture Greek ῥῆξις Karyorrhexis
-rrhoea flowing, discharge Greek -ρροια diarrhoea
rubr/o- Of or pertaining to the red nucleus of the brain Latin (ruber), red Rubrospinal
-rupt Break or burst Latin Erupt, Interrupt


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
salping/o- Of or pertaining to tubes e.g. 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
sanit/a health sanitarian
sarco- muscular, fleshlike Greek σάρξ, σαρκ- sarcoma, sarcoidosis
schist/o- split, cleft Greek σχιστός (schistos) schistocyte
schiz/o- Denoting something 'split' or 'double-sided' Ancient Greek σχιζω; irregular formation of the verb σχίζειν (schizein), to cut, split Schizophrenia
scirrh/o hard scirrhoma
scler/o- hard Greek σκληρός Scleroderma
-sclerosis hardening Greek σκλήρωσις Atherosclerosis, 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
scoto- darkness Greek σκότος (skotos) scotopic vision
semi- one-half, partly Latin semiconscious
sial/o- saliva, salivary gland Greek σίαλος (sialos) sialagogue
sigmoid/o- sigmoid, S-shaped curvature Greek σιγμοειδής sigmoid colon
sinistr/o- left, left side Latin
sinus- Of or pertaining to the sinus Latin (sinus), a curve, bend, bay Sinusitis
sito- food, grain Greek σῖτος (sitos) Sitophobia
somat/o-, somatic/o- body, bodily Greek σῶμα (sōma) somatic
-some body chromosome
-spadias slit, fissure Greek σπάδων hypospadias, epispadias
spasmo- spasm Greek σπασμός Spasmodic dysphonia
spectr/o image, spectrum spectrogram
sperma-, spermo-, spermato- semen, spermatozoa Greek σπέρμα (sperma) Spermatogenesis
splanchn/i-, splanchn/o- viscera Greek σπλάγχνον splanchnology
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 Squamous cell
-stabile stable, fixed thermostabile
-stalsis contraction Greek στάλσις Peristalsis
-stasis stopping, standing Greek στάσις Cytostasis, homeostasis
-stat device/instrument for keeping something stationary hemostat
-staxis dripping, trickling Greek στάξις, στακτός
sten/o- Denoting something as 'narrow in shape' or pertaining to narrowness Ancient Greek στενός (stenos); narrow, short Stenography
-stenosis abnormal narrowing in a blood vessel or other tubular organ or structure Ancient Greek στένωσις (stenōsis) Restenosis, stenosis
stere/o solid, three dimensional stereoradiography
steth/o- Of or pertaining to the upper chest, chest, the area above the breast and under the neck Ancient Greek στῆθος (stēthos), chest, cuirass Stethoscope
stheno- strength, force, power Greek σθένος
stom/a mouth; an artificially created opening Greek στόμα
stomat/o- Of or pertaining to the mouth Ancient Greek στόμα, στοματ- (stóma, stomat-), mouth Stomatogastric, stomatognathic system
-stomy creation of an opening Greek -στομία colostomy
sub- beneath, under Latin subcutaneous tissue
succ/o juice succorrhea
super- in excess, above, superior Latin superior vena cava
supra- above, excessive Latin supraorbital vein
sy, syl-, sym-, syn-, sys- Indicates similarity, likeness, or being together; assimilates before some consonants: before l to syl-, s to sys-, before a labial consonant to sym-. Ancient Greek συν- (syn), with, together Symptom, synalgia, synesthesia, syssarcosis
symptom/o occurance asymptomatic
synaps/o, synapt/o point of contact, to join synaptogenesis
system/o system systematic
systol/o contraction presystoloe


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
tachy- Denoting something as fast, irregularly fast Ancient Greek ταχύς (tachys), fast, quickly Tachycardia
techn/o skill, art technology
tele/o perfect, complete teleomitosis
temp/o, tempor/o period of time, the temples tempolabile
-tension, -tensive pressure Latin Hypertension
terato- Monster Ancient Greek teras(s) terata(pl) teratoma, teratogen
tetan- rigid, tense Ancient Greek tetanos tetanus
thec- sheath Ancient Greek θήκη (thēkē) Intrathecal
thel- Of or pertaining to a nipple (uncommon as a prefix) Ancient Greek θηλή (thēlē), a teat, nipple Theleplasty, thelarche
thely- Denoting something as 'relating to a woman, feminine' Ancient Greek θῆλυς (thēlys), female, feminine Thelygenous
-therapy, therapeut/o
treatment Ancient Greek (therapeía) hydrotherapy, therapeutic
therm/o- heat Ancient Greek θερμός (thermós)
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 thoracic, 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- emotions Greek: "thymos", spirit, soul; courage; breath, mind, emotions dysthymia
-tic pertaining to Greek -τικός
toco- childbirth Greek τόκος
-tome cutting instrument Greek τομή (tomē)
-tomy act of cutting; incising, incision Greek -τομία Gastrotomy
ton- tone, tension, pressure Greek τόνος (tonos)
-tony tension Greek -τονία
top/o- place, topical τόπος (topos) Topical anesthetic
tors/o twisting, twisted sinistrotorsion
tort/i- twisted tortus Torticollis
tox/i-, tox/o-, toxic/o- toxin, poison Greek τοξικόν Toxoplasmosis
trache/a- trachea Greek τραχεία Tracheotomy
trachel/o- Of or pertaining to the neck Ancient Greek τράχηλος (tráchēlos), neck tracheloplasty
trans- Denoting something as moving or situated across or through trāns, "across, through" Transfusion
trem/o, tremul/o shaking, trembling tremor
tri- three Latin triangle, triceps
tri/o to sort out, sorting triage
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
-tumescence, tumesc/o swelling detumescence
tympan/o- eardrum Greek τύμπανον Tympanocentesis
-type, typ/o class, representative form somatype


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
-ula, -ule small Latin Nodule
ultra- beyond, excessive ultra Ultrasound, ultraviolet
umbilic- 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- Of or pertaining to urine, the urinary system Ancient Greek οὐρεῖν (oureîn); οὖρον (oûron), urine; οὐρητήρ (ourētḗr); οὐρήθρα (ourḗthra) uraemia/uremia, uremic, ureter, urethra, urology
uric- uric acid Greek οὐρικός
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


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Examples
vagin- Of or pertaining to the vagina Latin (vāgīna), sheath, scabbard Vagina
varic/o- swollen or twisted vein Latin varix varicose
vas/o- duct, blood vessel Latin vasoconstriction
vasculo- blood vessel vāsculum
ven- Of or pertaining to the veins, venous blood, and the vascular system Latin vēna, blood-vessel, vein Venule, Venospasm
ventil/o to aerate, oxygenate ventilation
ventr/o- Of or pertaining to the belly; the stomach cavities Latin (venter), the belly, the stomach; the womb Ventrodorsal
ventricul/o- Of or pertaining to the ventricles; any hollow region inside an organ Latin (venter), the ventricles of the heart, the ventricles of the brain Cardiac ventriculography
turn, turning cardioversion
-version turning versiō anteversion, retroversion
vesic/o- bladder Latin (vēsīca), bladder; blister vesical arteries
vir/o virus virologist
viscer/o- Of or pertaining to the internal organs, the viscera viscus, pl. viscera), internal organ(s) Viscera
vit/o life vital
volv/o, volut/o to roll involution


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
xanth/o- Denoting a yellow color, an abnormally yellow color ξανθός (xanthós), yellow Xanthopathy
xen/o- Foreign, different ξένος (xénos), stranger Xenograft
xer/o- dry, desert-like ξηρός (xērós), dry Xerostomia, xeroderma
xiph- sword ξίφος (xíphos), sword xiphoid, xiphoidalgia


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


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
zo/o- animal, animal life Greek ζῷον zoology
zyg/o union, junction zygogenesis
zym/o- fermentation Greek ζύμη enzyme, lysozyme

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 in English Latin root in English Other root in English
Digestion -pepsia - -
Disease -pathy - -
Eating -phagia -vory -

Roots of body parts and components

(Internal anatomy, external anatomy, body fluids, body substances)

Body part or component Greek root Latin root Other root
abdomen lapar/o- abdomin- -
aorta aort/o- aort/o- -
arm brachi/o- - -
armpit maschal- axill- -
artery arteri/o- - -
back - dors- -
big toe - allic-, hallic- -
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- pector- -
cheek parei- bucc- -
ear ot/o- aur/i- -
eggs, ova oo- ov- -
eye ophthalm/o- ocul/o- optic/o- [French]
eyelid blephar/o- cili-, palpebr- -
face prosop/o- 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 salping/o- salping/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 melan- atr-, nigr-
blue cyan- cerule-
gray, grey poli- can-
green chlor- vir-
purple porphyr/o- purpur-, purpureo-
red erythr/o-, rhod/o- rub-, rubr-
red-orange cirrh/o-
white leuc-, leuk- alb-, cand-
yellow xanth- flav- 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- mis-
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- mis-
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 ne/o- 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-

Prefixes 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

It's all Greek to me, a short presentation on medical terminology,


  2. Stedman's Online
  3. Stanfield, P. Essential Medical Terminology, 4th Edition, P. 154
  4. "Root Words: Quick Reference." LearnThatWord. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 March 2013.
  5. List of medical roots, suffixes and prefixes, Wikipedia,,_suffixes_and_prefixes
  6. Medical Terminology the Basics, Bar Charts, June 2000, ISBN-13: 978-1572224209