Latin For You

Teaching and translating ancient Latin since 1986

Medical Terminology

One of the principle uses of the Latin language today is in medical terminology.  Virtually all medical terminology comes from ancient Latin or ancient Greek.  I'd like to help all of you out there, who need to look up a single word or wish to have access to the whole range of medical terms.  We also have a link here to a great site for those of you who would like to learn how the various parts of a medical term are created.

Medical terminology is basically a game of building blocks.  You take a root (or  two) and add prefixes and suffixes and put them together to create a new word.  Latin and Greek are great langauges for building words because the various parts go together so well.  For example:

ortho (straight) + dont (teeth) + ic (pertaining to) = orthodontic (pertaining to the straightening of teeth, or simply teeth straightening; -ic really just makes the word an adjective).

Here is the link to a great website that will teach you some of the basics about Medical Terminology and give you the chance to practice some of the things they teach you.

There is also available on-line a massive medical dictionary which you can access right here.

Interesting Medical Etymologies

Of course, pretty much all medical terminology derives from Latin and Greek (especially Greek), but some terms have very interesting and unexpected etymologies.

THALAMO- a thalamos in ancient Greece was a room in a house, in particular, a room that did not have an outside door.  So it was an inside room that had to be accessed through various hall-ways.  The image of this room leapt to mind when an interior part of the brain was to be named - the thalamus.

SPHINCTO- Much less predictable is the  source of the word sphincter, a circular muscle which constricts to maintain a barrier.  This muscle is named for the inscrutable Sphinx of Egyptian and ancient Greek lore.  I just had to find out about that connection!  Well, it turns out that the Sphinx, that tormented Thebes and tested Oedipus, killed itself when Oedipus solved her riddle to him.  And her method of suicide was to strangle herself.

GALACTO- Here is another term that has a connection with Greek mythology.  Galacto- is milk and our galaxy is the Milky Way.  But how did the Milky Way get its name?  When Heracles was a little nipper, he was nursed by Hera.  Of course, Heracles was powerful, even as an infant, even when just nursing.  His suction was so great that when he detached (in some versions, Hera found nursing the little tyke so painful, she yanked him off her breast), there was a spray of milk that spread across the sky and created the Milky Way.  Thank goodness the spray wasn't caused later when they changed his diaper!!

Medical Terminology Database

Once you have a basic understanding of how medical terminology is structured and created, what you really need is the list of the Latin and Greek roots that are the building blocks that we use.























a/n-                          no; not; without

ab-                          away from

abdomin/o          abdomen

-ac                          pertaining to

acanth/o               spiny; thorny

acar/o                    mites

acetabul/o           acetabulum (hip socket)

acous/o                 hearing

acoust/o                hearing, sound

acr/o                      extremeties; top; extreme point

acromi/o               acromion (extension of shoulder bone)

actin/o                   light

acu/o                     sharp; severe; sudden

-acusis                  hearing

ad-                          toward

-ad                          toward

aden/o                  gland

adenoid/o            adenoids

adip/o                   fat

adren/o                 adrenal gland

adrenal/o             adrenal gland

aer/o                      air

af-                           toward

agglutin/o            clumping; sticking together

-agogue                producer, leader

-agon                     to assemble; gather

agora-                    marketplace

-agra                      excessive pain

-al                           pertaining to

alb/o                      white

albin/o                  white

albumin/o           albumin (protein)

alges/o                  sensitivity to pain

-algesia                 sensitivity to pain

-algia                     pain

all/o                       other

alveol/o                alveolus; air sac; small sac

ambi-                    around, on both sides, about

ambly/o                dim; dul

amphi-                  around, on both sides

-amine                  nitrogen compound

ammon/o             ammonium

amni/o                  amnion (ssac surrounding the embryo)

amyl/o                  startch

an/o                       anus

-an                          pertaining to

ana-                       up; apart; backward; again; anew

andr/o                   male

aneurysm/o        aneurysm (widening of blood vessel)

angi/o                    vessel (blood)

anis/o                    unequal

ankyl/o                 stiff

ante-                      before; forward

anter/o                  front

anthrac/o             coal

anthr/o                  antrum of the stomach

anti-                       against

anxi/o                    uneasy; anxious

aort/o                     aorta (largest artery)

-apheresis           removal

aphth/o                 ulcer

apo-                       off; away

aponeur/o            aponeurosis (type of tendon)

append/o             appendix

appendic/o          appendix

aque/o                  water

-ar                           pertaining to

arachn/o               spider

-arche                    beginning

arsenic/o              arsenic

arter/o                   artery

arteri/o                  artery

arteriol/o              arteriole (small artery)

arthr/o                   joint

-arthria                 articulate (speak distinctly)

articul/o                joint

-artresia                closure, occlusion

atreto-                   closed, lacking an opening

-ary                        pertaining to

asbest/o                asbestos

-ase                        enzyme

aspir/o                  removal

-assay                    to examine, analyze

-asthenia              lack of strength

astr/o                     star, star-shaped

aque/o                  water

atel/o                     incomplete

ather/o                  plaque (fatty substance)

-ation                     process; condition

atri/o                      atrium (upper heart chamber)

atmo-                     steam, vapor

audi/o                   hearing

audit/o                  hearing

aur/o                      ear

auricul/o              ear

auscult/o              to listen

aut/o                      self; own

aux/o                     growth, acceleration

axillo/o                 armpit

axi/o                      axis

azot/o                    urea/nitrogen


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bacill/o                  bacilli (bacteria)

bacteri/o               bacteria

balan/o                 glans penis

bar/o                      pressure; weight

bartholin/o          Bartholin glands

bary-                      weight, pressure

-basia                    walking

bas/o                      base; opposite of acid

batho-, bathy-     deep, depth

bi-                           two

bi/o                         life

bil/i                        bile; gall

bilirubin/o           bilirubin

-blast                     embryonic; immature cell

-blastoma             immature tumor (cells)

blenn/o                 mucus

blephar/o             eyelid

bol/o                      cast; throw

-boulia                  will

brachi/o                arm

brachy-                 short

brady-                   slow

brom/o                  bromine-containing compound, odor

bronch/o               bronchial tube

bronchi/o             bronchial tube

bronchiol/o          bronchiole

bucc/o                   cheek

bunion/o              bunion

burs/o                    bursa (sac of fluid near joints)

byssin/o                cotton dust


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cac/o                         bad

calc/o                       calcium

calcane/o                calcaneus (heel bone)

calci/o                      calcium

calcul/o, -calculia to compute

cali/o                        calyx

calic/o                      calyx

calor/i                      heat

campt/o                   bent

capillar/o                capillary (tiniest blood vessel)

capn/o                     carbon dioxide

-capnia                    carbon dioxide

caps/o, capsul/o   capsule, container

carcin/o                   cancerous; cancer

cari/o                        caries, rottenness

cardi/o                     heart

carp/o                      wrist bones (carpals)

cata-                         down

-cataphasia            affirmation

cathar/o, cathart/o             cleansing, purging

-cathisia, -kathisia            sitting

caud/o                     tail; lower part of body

caus/o                      burn; burning

cauter/o                   heat; burn

cav/o, cavit/o         hollow, cavity

cec/o                         cecum (first part of colon)

-cele                         hernia

celi/o                        belly; abdomen

-centesis                 surgical puncture to remove fluid

centr/o                     center

cephal/o                  head

cerebell/o               cerebellum (posterior part of the brain)

cerebr/o                  cerebrum (largest part of the brain)

cerumin/o              cerumen

cervic/o                   neck; cervix (neck of uterus)

-chalasia                 relaxation

-chalasis                 relaxation

cheil/o                     lip

chem/o                    drug; chemical

-chezia                    defacation; elimination of wastes

chir/o                       hand

chlor/o                     green

chlorhydr/o            hydrochloric acid

chol/e                       bile; gall

cholangi/o              bile; vessel

cholecyst/o             gallbladder

choledoch/o           common bile duct

cholesterol/o         cholesterol

chondr/o                 cartilage

chore/o                    dance

chori/o                     chorion (outermost membrane of the fetus)

chorion/o                chorion

choroid/o                choroid layer of eye

-chroia                     skin coloration

chrom/o                  color

chron/o                    time

chrys/o                    gold

chyl/o                       chyle

chym/o                    to pour

cib/o                         meal

-cide                         killing

-cidal                        pertaining to killing

cine/o                       movement

circum-                    around

cirrh/o                      orange-yellow

cis/o                          to cut

-clasis                      to break

-clast                        to break

claustr/o                  enclosed space

clavicul/o                clavicle (collar bone)

cleid/o                     clavicle

clin/o                        to slope, bend

-clysis                      irragation; washing

coagul/o                  coagulation (clotting)

-coccus                    berry-shaped bacterium

coccyg/o                  coccyx (tail bone)

cochle/o                  cochlea (inner part of ear)

-coimesis                sleeping

col/o                         colon (large intestine)

coll/a                        glue

colon/o                    colon (large intestine)

colp/o                       vagina

comat/o                   deep sleep

comi/o                     to care for

-coma                       deep sleep

con-                          together; with

coni/o                       dust

conjunctiv/o          conjuctiva (lines of eyelids)

consci/o                   awareness, aware

constrict/o              narrowing, binding

-constriction          narrowing

contra-                     against; opposite

contus/o                  to bruise

cor/o                         pupil

core/o                       pupil

corne/o                    cornea

coron/o                    heart

corpor/o                  body

cortic/o                    cortex, outer region

cost/o                       rib

cox/o                        hip

crani/o                     skull

cras/o                       mixture; temperament

crin/o                       secrete

-crine                       to secrete; separate

-crit                           to separtate

critic/o                     crisis, dangerous

cry/o                         cold

crypt/o                     hidden

cubit/o                     elbow, forearm

culd/o                      cul-de-sac

cupr/o                      copper

-cusis                       hearing

cutane/o                  skin

cyan/o                      blue

cycl/o                       ciliary body of eye; cycle; circle

-cyesis                     pregnancy

cyst/o                       urinary bladder; cyst; sac of fluid

cyt/o                         cell

-cyte                         cell

-cytosis                    condition of cells; slight increase in numbers


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dacry/o                  tear

dacryoaden/o     tear gland

dacryocyst/o        tear sac; lacriman sac

dactyl/o                 fingers; toes

de-                          lack of; down; less; removal of

dem/o                    people

dent/i                     tooth

derm/o                  skin

-derma                  skin

dermat/o              skin

desicc/o                drying

-desis                     to bind; tie together

dextr/o                  right

dia-                         complete; through

diaphor/o             sweat

-dilation                widening; stretching; expanding

dilat/o                    to enlarge, expand

dipl/o                     double

dips/o                    thirst

dis-                         apart, to separate

dist/o                     far; distant

dolich/o                long

dolor/o                  pain

dors/o                    back (of body)

dorsi-                     back

-dote                      to give

-drome                  to run

duct/o                    to lead; carry

duoden/o             duodenum

dur/o                      dura mater

dynam/o               power, strength

-dynia                    pain

dys-                        bad: painful: difficult: abnormal


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-eal                         pertaining to

ec-                          out; outside

echin/o                 spiny, prickly

echo-                     reflected sound

-ectasia                 dilation; dilatation; widening

-ectasis                 dilation; dilatation; widening

ecto-                       out; outside

ectro/o                   congenital absence

-ectomy                removal; excision; resection

-edema                 swelling

eight                      octa-, octi-

-elasma                flat plate

electr/o                 electricity

ele/o                      oil

em-                        in

-ema                      condition

embolo/o             embolus

embry/o               embryo

-emesis                 vomiting

-emia                     blood condition

-emic                     pertaining to blood condition

emmetr/o             in due measure

-emphraxis         stoppage, obstruction

en-                          in; within

enanti/o                opposite, opposed

encephal/o          brain

end-                       in; within

endo-                     in; within

enter/o                  intestines (usually small intestine)

eosin/o                  red; rosy; dawn-colored

epi-                        above; upon; on

epididym/o         epididymis

epiglott/o             epiglottis

episi/o                   vulva

epitheli/o             skin; epithelium

equi-                      equality, equal

equin/o                 horse

-er                           one who

erg/o                      work

erethism/o           irritation

erythem/o            flushed; redness

erythr/o                red

eschar/o               scab

-esis                       action; condition; state of

eso-                        inward

esophag/o            esophagus

esthes/o                nervous sensation

esthesi/o              nervous sensation

-esthesia              nervous sensation

estr/o                     female

ethm/o                  sieve

eti/o                       cause

eu-                          good; normal

-eurysm                widening

ex-                          out; away from

exanthemat/o     rash

exo-                        out; away from

extra-                     outside


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faci/o                        face

-facient                    to cause, make happen

fasci/o                      fascia (membrane supporting muscles)

febr/i                        fever

femor/o                   femur (thigh bone)

-ferent                     to carry

ferr/i, ferr/o            iron

fet/o                          fetus

fibr/o                        fiber

fibros/o                   fibrous connective tissue

fibul/o                     fibula

-fication                  process of making

-fida                         split

fil/i, fil/o                  thread, threadlike

filament/o              thread, threadlike

five                           pent-, penta-, quinque-

flav/o                       yellow

flex/o                       to bend

fluor/o                     luminous

follicul/o                 follicle; small sac

fore-                         before, in front

-form                        resembling; in the shape of

four                          quadri, tetra-

frig/o, frigid/o       cold

funct/o                     performance

fung/i                       fungus; mushroom (organism lacking chlorophyll)

furc/o                       forking; branching

fusc/o                       dark brown

-fusion                     to pour; to come together


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galact/o                   milk

ganglion/o              ganglion; collection of nerve cell bodies

gastr/o                     stomach

gel/o                         to freeze, congeal

gemell/o                 twins

-gen                          substance that produces

-genesis                  producing; forming

-genic                       produced by or in

geni/o                      chin

genit/o                     reproduction

ge/o                          earth, soil

ger/o                         old age

geront/o                  old age

gest/o                       pregnancy

gester/o                   pregnancy

gigant/o                   huge

gingiv/o                   gum

glauc/o                    gray

gli/o                          glial cells; neuroglial cells

-globin                     protein

-globulin                 protein

glomerul/o             glomerulus

gloss/o                     tongue

gluc/o                       glucose; sugar

glyc/o                       glucose; sugar

glycogen/o             glycogen; animal starch

glycos/o                   glucose; sugar

gnath/o                    jaw

gnos/o                      knowledge

gon/o                        seed

gonad/o                   sex glands

goni/o                      angle

-grade                      to go

-gram                       record

granul/o                  granule(s)

-graph                      instrument for recording

graph/o                   writing

-graphy                   process of recording

gravid/o                  pregnancy

-gravida                  pregnant woman

gynec/o                   woman; female

gyr/o                         circle, spiral


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half                           demi, hemi, semi

hallucin/o               hallucination

hapl/o                      simple, single

helc/o                       ulcer

heli/o                       sun

-helminth               worm

hem/o                      blood

hemat/o                  blood

hemi-                       half

hemoglobin/o       hemoglobin

hepat/o                    liver

heredo-                   heredity

herni/o                    hernia

-hexia                      habit

hidr/o                       sweat

hirsut/o                   hairy

hirund/i                  leech

hist/o                        tissue

histi/o                      tissue

holo-                         entire, complete

home/o                    sameness; unchanging; constant

hormon/o               hormone

hymen/o                 hymen

humer/o                  humerous

hydr/o                      water

hygr/o                      moisture

hyper-                      above; excessive

hypn/o                     sleep

hypo-                       deficient; below; under; less than normal

hypophys/o           pituitary gland

hypothalam/o       hypothalamus

hypsi-                      high

hyster/o                   uterus; womb


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ia                               condition

-iac                            pertaining to

-iasis                        abnormal condition

iatr/o                        physician; treatment

-ic                              pertaining to

-ical                          pertaining to

ichthy/o                   dry; scaly

-ician                        specialist

-icle                          small

ide/o                         idea, mental images

idi/o                          unknown; individual; distinct

ile/o                          ileum

ili/o                           ilium

immun/o                immune; protection; safe

in-                             in; into; not

-in                             a substance

-ine                           a substance

-ine                           pertaining to

infra-                        below; inferior to; beneath

inguin/o                  groin

insulin/o                 insulin (pancreatic hormone)

inter-                        between

intra-                        within; into

iod/o                         iodine

ion/o                         ion; to wander

-ion                           process

-ior                            pertaining to

ipsi-                          same

ir-                              in

ir/o                            iris (colored portion of eye)

irid/o                        iris (colored portion of eye)

is/o                            same; equal

isch/o                       to hold back; back

ischi/o                      ischium (part of hip bone)

-ism                          process; condition

-ist                             specialist

ithy-                          erect, straight

-itis                           inflammation

-ium                         structure; tissue

ixod/i                       ticks


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   J & K

juxta-                       near

jaund/o                   yellow

jejun/o                     jejunum

kal/i                          potassium

kary/o                      nucleus

kel/o                         tumor, fibrous growth

kerat/o                     cornea; hard, horny tissue

keraun/o                 lightning

kern-                        nucleus (collection of nerve cells in the brain)

ket/o                         ketones; acetones

keton/o                    ketones; acetones

kines/o                    movement

kinesi/o                   movement

-kinesis                   movement

klept/o                     to steal

koil/o                       hollow, concave, depressed

kraur/o                    dry

kym/o                      waves

kyph/o                     humpback


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-labile                      unstable, perishable

labi/o                       lip

lacrim/o                  tear; tear duct; lacrimal duct

lact/o                        milk

lal/o, -lalia              speech, babble

lamin/o                   lamina

lampr/o                   clear

lapar/o                     abdominal wall; abdomen

-lapse                       to slide, fall, sag

laryng/o                  larynx (voice box)

later/o                      side

lecith/o                    yolk, ovum

lei/o                          smooth

leiomy/o                 smooth (visceral) muscle

-lemma                   sheath; covering

lepid/o                     plakes, scales

lepr/o                       leprosy

-lepsy                       seizure

lept/o                       thin, slender

-leptic                      to seize, take hold of

leth/o                       death

leuk/o                      white

levo-                         left

lex/o                         word; phrase

-lexia                        word; phrase

lien/o                       spleen

ligament/o             ligament

ligat/o                      binding, tying

lim/o                        hunger

lingu/o                     tongue

lip/o                          fat; lipid

-lipsis                       omit, fail

-listhesis                 condition of stones

lith/o                        stone, calculus

-lithotomy              incision (for removal) of a stone

lob/o                         lobe

logad/o                    whites of the eyes

-logist                       specialist

log/o                         study

-logy                         study (process of)

loph/o                      ridge

lord/o                       curve; swayback

lox/o                         oblique, slanting

-lucent                     to shine

lumb/o                    lower back; loin

lumin/o                   light

lute/o                       yellow

lux/o                         to slide

lymph/o                  lymph

ly/o                           to dissolve, loosen

lymphaden/o        limph gland (node)

lymphangi/o         lymph vessel

-lysis                        breakdown; separation; destruction; loosening

-lytic      to reduce, destroy, separate; breakdown

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macro-                     large

mal-                          bad

-malacia                  softening

malleol/o                malleolus

mamm/o                 breast

mandibul/o           mandible (lower jaw bone)

-mania                     obsessive preoccupation

-masesis                 mastication, chewing

mast/o                     breast

mastoid/o               mastoid process (behind the ear)

maxill/o                  maxilla (upper jaw bone)

meat/o                     meatus (opening)

medi/o                     middle

medic/o                   to heal, healing

mediastin/o           mediastinum

medi/o                     middle

medull/o                 medulla (inner section); middle; soft, marrow

mega-                      large

-megaly                   enlargement

melan/o                  black

mel/o                       limb, limbs

men/o                      menses; menstruation

mening/o                meninges (membranes covering the spinal cord & brain)

meningi/o              meninges

ment/o                     mind; chin

mer/o                       part

meso-                       middle

meta-                       change; beyond

metacarp/o            metacarpals (hand bones)

metatars/o              metatarsals (foot bones)

-meter                      measure

method/o                procedure, technique

metr/o                      uterus (womb); measure

metri/o                    uterus (womb)

-metry                      process of measuring

mi/o                          smaller; less

micro-                      small

-mimesis                imitation, simulation

-mimetic                 mimic; copy

-mission                  to send

-mnesia                   memory

mogi-                       difficult

mon/o                      one; single

morph/o                  shape; form

mort/o                      death

-mortem                  death

-motor                      movement

muc/o                      mucus

mucos/o                  mucous membrane (mucosa)

multi-                       many

muscul/o                muscle

mut/a                       genetic change

mutagen/o             causing genetic change

my/o                         muscle

myc/o                       fungus

mydr/o                    wide

myel/o                     spinal cord; bone marrow

myocardi/o            myocardium (heart muscle)

myom/o                  muscle tumor

myos/o                    muscle

myring/o                 tympanic membrane (eardrum)

myx/o                      mucus


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narc/o                      numbness; stupor; sleep

nas/o                        nose

nat/i                          birth

natr/o                       sodium

necr/o                      death

nect/o                       to bind, tie, connect

neo-                          new

nephr/o                   kidney

neur/o                      nerve

neutr/o                    neither; neutral; neutrophil

nid/o                        nest

nine                          noni-

noci-                         to cause harm, injury or pain

noct/o                       night

nod/o                       knot

-noia                         mind, will

nom/o                      custom, law

nomen-                   name

norm/o                    rule; order

nos/o                        disease

nucle/o                    nucleus

nulli-                        none

nutri/o, nutrit/o     to nourish

nyct/o                       night

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obstetr/o                 pregnancy; birth

ocul/o                       eye

odont/o                    tooth

odyn/o                     pain

-oid                           resembling; derived from

-ole                           little; small

ole/o                         oil

olecran/o                olecranon (elbow)

olig/o                        scanty

om/o                         shoulder

-oma                         tumor; mass; fluid collection

omphal/o                umbilicus (navel)

onc/o                        tumor

-one                          hormone

one                           mono, uni

one and a half      bi, di

onych/o                   nail (of fingers or toes)

o/o                             egg

oophor/o                 ovary

-opaque                  obscure

ophry/o                   eyebrow

ophthalm/o            eye

-opia                         vision condition

opisth/o                   backward, behind

-opsia                       vision condition

-opsy                        view of

opt/o                         eye; vision

optic/o                     eye; vision

-or                             one who

or/o                           mouth

orch/o                      testis

orchi/o                     testis

orchid/o                  testis

-orexia                     appetite

organ/o                    organ

orth/o                       straight

osche/o                    scrotum

-ose                           full of; pertaining to; sugar

-osis                          condition, usually abnormal

-osmia                     smell

osphresi/o              sense of smell

ossicul/o                 ossicle (small bone)

oste/o                       bone

-ostosis                    condition of bone

ot/o                           ear

-otia                          ear condition

-ous                          pertaining to

ov/o                          egg

ovari/o                     ovary

ovul/o                      egg

ox/o                          oxygen

-oxia                         oxygen

oxy-                          swift; sharpp; acid

oxysm/o                  sudden


Return to Index


pachy-                     heavy; thick

-pagus                     conjoined twins

palat/o                     palate (roof of mouth)

pale/o                      old

pali-                          recurrence, repetition

palliat/o                  to soothe, relieve

palpebr/o               eyelid

palp/o, palpat/o    to touch gently

palpit/o                   flutter, throbbing

pan-                          all

pancreat/o              pancreas

pant/o                      all, whole

papill/o                   nipple-like; optic disc

papul/o                   papule, pimple

par-                           other than; abnormal

para-                        near; beside; abnormal; apart from; along the side of

-para                        to bear, bring forth (live births)

-parous                    to bear, bring forth

parasit/o                 parasite

parathyroid/o        parathyroid glands

-paresis                   weakness

-pareunia               sexual intercourse

-partum                   birth; labor

patell/a                    patella

patell/o                    patela

path/o                      disease

-pathy                      disease; emotion

pector/o                   chest

pedicul/o                louse

ped/o                       child; foot

pelv/i                       pelvis; hip region

pelv/o                      pelvis; hip region

pend/o                     to hang

-penia                      deficiency

-pepsia                    digestion

per-                           through

percuss/o                to tap

peri-                         surrounding

perine/o                  perineum

peritone/o              peritoneum

per/o                        deformed, maimed

perone/o                 fibula

perspir/o                 breathe through

petr/o                       stone, petrous region of temporal bone

-pexy                        fixation; to put in place

phac/o                     lens of eye

phag/o                     eat; swallow

-phage                     eat; swallow

-phagia                    eating; swallowing

phak/o                     lens of eye

phalang/o               phalanges (of fingers and toes)

phall/o                     penis

phaner/o                 visible, apparent

pharmac/o             drug

pharmaceut/o       drug

pharyng/o              throat (pharynx)

phas/o                     speech

-phasia                    speech

phe/o                       dusky; dark

-pheresis                removal

phil/o                       like; love; attraction to

-phil                         attraction for

-philia                      attraction for

phim/o                    muzzle

phleb/o                   vein

phob/o                     fear

-phobia                   fear

phon/o                     voice; sound

-phonia                   voice; sound

-phor/o                    to bear

-phoresis                carrying; transmission

-phoria                    to bear, carry; feeling (mental state)

phosphat/o            phosphate

phot/o                      light

phren/o                   diaphragm; mind

-phthisis                 wasting away

-phylaxis                protection

phyl/o                      race, species, type

physi/o                    nature; function

physic/o                  physical, natural

-physis                    to grow

phys/o                     air, gas

phyt/o                      plant

-phyte                      plant

picr/o                       bitter

pies/i, -piesis         pressure

pil/o                          hair

pimel/o                   fat, fatty

pineal/o                  pineal gland

pin/o                        to drink

pituitar/o                pituitary gland

-plakia                     plaque

plan/o                      flat, level, wandering

plant/o                     sole of the foot

plas/o                       development; formation

-plasia                     development; formation

-plasm                     formation; structure

-plastic                    pertaining to formation

-plasty                     surgical repair

platy-                       broad, flat

ple/o                         more; many

-plegia                     paralysis; palsy

-plegic                     paralysis; palsy

pleur/o                    pleura

plex/o                      plexus; network (of nerves)

-pnea                       breathing

pneum/o                 lung; air; gas

pneumon/o            lung; air; gas

pod/o                       foot

-poiesis                   formation

-poietin                   substance that forms

poikil/o                   varied; irregular

pol/o                         extreme

polio-                       gray matter (of brain or spinal cord)

poly-                         many; much

polyp/o                    polyp; small growth

pont/o                      pons ( a part of the brain)

por/o, -pore            opening, passageway

-porosis                   condition of pores (spaces)

-posia                       drinking

posit/o                     arrangement, place

post-                         after; behind

poster/o                   back (of body); behind

-prandial                meal

-praxia                     action

pre-                           before; in front of

presby/o                 old age

primi-                      first

pro-                           before; forward

proct/o                     anus and rectum

pros-                         before; forward

pros/o                      forward, anterior

prosop/o                 face

prostat/o                 prostate gland

prot/o                       first

prote/o                     protein

proxim/o                 near

prurit/o                    itching

psamm/o                sand, sand-like material

pseudo-                   false

psor/o                      itching

psych/o                   mind

psychr/o                  cold

-pterygium             abnormality of the conjunctiva

-ptosis                      droop; sag; prolapse; protrude

ptyal/o                     saliva

-ptysis                      spitting

pub/o                       pubis (anterior part of hip bone)

pulmon/o               lung

puls/o, pulsat/o    to beat, beating

-puncture               to pierce a surface

pupill/o                   pupil (dark center of eye)

purpur/i                  purple

purul/o                    pus

py/o                          pus

pycn/o                     thick, dense

pyel/o                      renal pelvis

pyl/e                         portal vein

pylor/o                     pylorus; pyloric sphincter

pyr/o                        fever; fire

pyret/o                     fever

pyrex/o                    fever


Return to Index

   Q & R

quadri-                    four, square

qual-                        quality, characteristic

quant-                      how much

quasi-                       to some degree, as if

quart-                        fourth, four

quer-                        to seek, search

quercin                   oak

quint-                       fifth, five

quota-                      how many


rachi/o                     spinal column; vertebrae

radi/o                       x-rays; radioactivity; radius (lateral lower arm bone)

radicul/o                 nerve root

re-                             back; again; backward

-receptor, -ceptor receiver

rect/o                        rectum

ren/o                        kidney

respir/o                   breath

resuscit/o                to revive

reticul/o                  network

retin/o                      retina

retro-                        behind; back; backward

rhabd/o                   rod

rhabdomy/o          striated (skeletal) muscle

rhe/o                        flow, current, stream

rheumat/o              watery flow

rhin/o                       nose

rhiz/o                       root

rhod/o                      red, rosy

rhytid/o                   wrinkle

roentgen/o             x-rays

rose/o                       rosy

rot/o, rotat/o           turn, revolve

-rrhage                    bursting forth (of blood)

-rrhagia                   bursting forth (of blood)

-rrhaphy                 suture

-rrhea                       flow; discharge

-rrhexis                   rupture

rhythm/o                rhythm

rubr/o, rubr/i         red


Return to Index


sacchar/o                sugar

sacr/o                       sacrum

salping/o                fallopian tube; auditory (eustachian) tube

-salpinx                   fallopian tube; oviduct

sangu/i                    blood

sanit/a                     health

sapr/o                      rotten, decay

sarc/o                       flesh (connective tissue)

scapul/o                  scapula; shoulder blade

-schisis                    to split

schist/o                    split, cleft

schiz/o                     split

sinistr/o                   left

scint/i                       spark

scirrh/o                    hard

scler/o                      sclera (white of eye)

-sclerosis                hardening

scolec/o                   worm

scoli/o                      crooked; bent

-scope                      instrument for visual examination

-scopy                      visual examination

scot/o                       darkness

seb/o                        sebum

sebace/o                 sebum

sect/o                       to cut

semi-                        half

semin/i                    semen; seed

-sepsis                     putrefaction

seps/o                      infection

sept/o                       partition

ser/o                         serum, serous

seven                       hepta-, sept-, septi-

sial/o                        saliva

sialaden/o              salivary gland

sider/o                     iron

sigmoid/o               sigmoid colon

silic/o                       glass

sinus/o                    sinus

-sis                            state of; condition

sit/o                          food

six                             hex-, hexa-, sex-

skelet/o                   skeleton

-sol                            solution

somat/o                   body

-some                       body

somn/o                    sleep

-somnia                   sleep

son/o                        sound

-spadia                    to tear; cut

span/o                     scanty, scarce

-spasm                    sudden contraction of muscles

spectr/o                   image, spectrum

sperm/o                  spermatozoa; sperm cells

spermat/o               spermatozoa; sperm cells

sphen/o                   wedge; sphenoid bone

spher/o                    globe-shaped; round

sphygm/o               pulse

-sphyxia                  pulse

splanchn/o             viscera (internal organs)

spin/o                      spine (backbone)

spir/o                       to breathe

splen/o                    spleen

spondyl/o               vertebra (backbone)

squam/o                 scale

-stalsis                     contraction

staped/o                  stapes (middle ear bone)

staphyl/o                clusters; uvula

-stabile                    stable, fixed

-stalsis                     contraction

staped/o                  stapes

-stasis                      to stop; control; place

-stat                          device/instrument for keeping something stationary

-static                       pertaining to stopping; controlling

steat/o                      fat; sebum

sten/o                       narrowed, constricted

-stenosis                 tightening; stricture

ster/o                        solid structure; steroid

stere/o                     solid; three-dimensional

stern/o                     sternum (breastbone)

steth/o                     chest

-sthenia                   strength

stich/o                      rows

stigmat/o                mark, point

-stitial                      to set; pertaining to standing or positioned

stomat/o                  mouth

-stomia                    condition of the mouth

-stomy                     new opening (to form a mouth)

strept/o                    twisted chains

-stroma                    supporting tissue of an organ

styl/o                        pole or stake

sub-                          under; below

submaxill/o           mandible (lower jaw bone)

succ/o                      juice

sud/o                        sweat

super-                      above, beyond

-suppression         to stop

supra-                      above; upper

sym-                         together; with

symptom/o            occurrence

syn-                          together; with

synaps/o, synapt/o           point of contact, to join

syncop/o                 to cut off, cut short; faint

syndesm/o             ligament

synov/o                   synovia; synovial membrane; sheath around a tendon

syring/o                   tube

system/o                 system

systol/o                    contraction


Return to Index


tachy-                       fast

tal/o                          talus

tars/o                        tarsus; hindfoot or ankle

tauto-                       identical, same

tax/o                         order; coordination

techn/o                    skill, art

tel/o                          complete

tele/o                        distant

temp/o, tempor/o period of time, the temples

ten                            deca-

ten/o                         tendon

tendin/o                  tendon

-tension                   pressure

tens/o                       stretched, strained

tephr/o                    gray (ashen)

terat/o                      monster; malformed fetus

test/o                        testis

tetan/o                     tetanus

tetra-                        four

thalam/o                 thalamus

thalass/o                 sea

thanat/o                  death

the/o                         put; place

thec/o                       sheath

thel/o                       nipple

therapeut/o            treatment

-therapy                  treatment

therm/o                   heat

thorac/o                   chest

-thorax                     chest; pleural cavity

three                        tri-

thromb/o                clot

-tropia                      to turn

thym/o                     thymus gland

-thymia                   mind (condition of)

-thymic                    pertaining to mind

thyr/o                       thyroid gland; sheild

thyroid/o                 thyroid gland

tibi/o                        tibia (shin bone)

-tic                             pertaining to

toc/o                         labor; birth

-tocia                        labor; birth (condition of)

-tocin                        labor; birth (a substance for)

tom/o                       to cut

-tome                       instrument to cut

-tomy                       process of cutting

ton/o                         tension

tone/o                      to stretch

tonsill/o                   tonsil

top/o                         place; position; location

torso                         twisted

tox/o                         poison

toxic/o                      poison

trache/o                   trachea (windpipe)

trans-                       across; through

traumat/o               trauma, injury, wound

trem/o, tremul/o   shaking, trembling

-tresia                      opening

tri-                             three

trich/o                      hair

trigon/o                   trigone (area within the bladder)

tri/o                           to sort out, sorting

-tripsy                      to crush

troph/o                    nourishment; development

-trophy                    nourishment; development (condition of)

-tropia                      to turn

-tropic                      turning

-tropin                     stimulate; act on

tub/o                        tube

tumesc/o, -tumescence   swelling

tympan/o                tympanic membrane (eardrum); middle ear

-type                         classification; picture

typhl/o                     cecum, blindness


Return to Index


-ule                           little; small

uln/o                        ulna (middle lower arm bone)

ul/o                           scar, scarring

ultra-                        beyond; excess

-um                           structure; tissue; thing

umbilic/o                umbilicus (navel)

ungu/o                     nail

uni-                           one

uran/o                      palate

-uresis                     urination

ur/o                           urine; urinary tract

ureter/o                   ureter

urethr/o                   urethra

-uria                         urination; condition of urine

uric/o                       urine condition

urin/o                       urine

-us                             structure; thing

uter/o                       uterus (womb)

uve/o                        uvea, vascular layer of eye (iris, choroid, ciliary body)

uvul/o                      uvula

Return to Index 


vaccin/o                  vaccine

vag/o                        vagus nerve

vagin/o                    vagina

valv/o                       valve

valvul/o                   valve

varic/o                     varicose veins

vas/o                        vessel; duct; vas deferens

vascul/o                  vessel (blood)

ven/o                        vein

ven/i                         vein

vener/o                    venereal (sexual contact)

ventil/o                    to aerate, oxygenate

ventr/o                     belly side of body

ventricul/o             ventricle (of heart or brain)

venul/o                    venule (small vein)

verm/i                      worm

verruc/i                   wart

-verse                       to turn

-version                   to turn

vers/o, -verse         turn, turning

vertebr/o                 vertebra (backbone)

vesic/o                     urinary bladder

vesicul/o                 seminal vesicle

vestibul/o               vestibule of the inner ear

vir/o                          virus

viscer/o                   internal organs

vit/o                          life

vitr/o                        vitreous body (of the eye)

vitre/o                      glass

viv/o                         life

-volemia                 blood volume

volv/o, volut/o       to roll

vulv/o                      vulva


Return to Index

   W, X, Y, Z

-ward                        in the direction of

-where                      location  e.g. anywhere

-wise                        direction  e.g. clockwise

with-                        together, united


xanth/o                    yellow

xen/o                        stranger, foreigner

xer/o                         dry, dryness

xiph/o or xiphi-    sword shaped

xylo-                         wood    e.g. xylum

xys-                           file, scrape


-y                                condition; process

yalos                         Glass

ydor                          Water

-yne                           ending for alkynes

yocto-                        prefix: one septillionth part of; the factor 10: yoctosecond

yoeides                    U-shaped

-yl                              suffix - a monovalent hydrocarbon radical e.g. ethyl

-ylene                       suffix - A bivalent organic radical

yper                          Above

ypo                            Under

ypsi                           High

ystera                       Uterus


zeo-                             boil

zinco-                         Pertaining to or containing the element zinc

zo/o                             animal life

zon-                             girdle, belt

zyg/o                           union, junction, pair, yoke, tied together

zym/o                         enzyme, ferment

-zyme                         enzyme


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