List of medical roots, suffixes and prefixes

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This is a list of roots, suffixes, and prefixes used in medical terminology, their meanings, and their etymologies. Most of them are combining forms in Neo-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 vowel, usually -o-. As a general rule, this vowel almost always acts as a joint-stem to connect two consonantal roots (e.g. arthr- + -o- + -logy = arthrology), but generally, the -o- is dropped when connecting to a vowel-stem (e.g. arthr- + -itis = arthritis, instead of arthr-o-itis). 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 and suffixes[edit]

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


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
a-, an- not, without (alpha privative) Greek ἀ-/ἀν- (a-/an-), not, without analgesic, apathy, anencephaly
ab- from; away from Latin abduction, abdomen
abdomin- of or relating to the abdomen Latin abdōmen, abdomen, fat around the belly abdomen, abdominal
-ac pertaining to; one afflicted with Greek -ακός (-akós) cardiac, celiac
acanth- thorn or spine Greek ἄκανθα (ákantha), thorn acanthion, acanthocyte, acanthoma, acanthulus
acou-[1] of or relating to hearing Greek ἀκούειν (akoúein), ἀκουστικός (akoustikós), of or for hearing acoumeter, acoustician, hyperacusis
acr- extremity, topmost Greek ἄκρον (ákron), highest or farthest point acrocrany, acromegaly, acroosteolysis, acroposthia, acrosome
-acusis hearing Greek ἀκουστικός (akoustikós), of or for hearing paracusis
-ad toward, in the direction of Latin ad, toward, to dorsad, ventrad
ad- at, increase, on, toward Latin ad-, to adduction, addition
aden- of or relating to a gland Greek ἀδήν, ἀδέν-, (adḗn, adén-), an acorn; a gland adenocarcinoma, adenology, adenotome, adenotyphus
adip- of or relating to fat or fatty tissue Latin adeps, adip-, fat adipocyte
adren- of or relating to the adrenal glands Latin ad + rēnēs, kidneys adrenal artery
-aemia, ema, hemat (BrE) blood condition Greek ἀναιμία (anaimía), without blood anaemia
aer(o)- air, gas Greek ἀήρ, ἀέρος (aḗr, aéros) aerosinusitis, aerodynamics
aesthesi- (BrE) sensation Greek αἴσθησις (aísthēsis) anaesthesia
-al pertaining to Latin -alis abdominal, femoral
alb- denoting a white or pale color Latin albus, white albino, tunica albica
alge(si)- pain Greek ἄλγος (álgos) analgesic
-algia, alg(i)o- pain Greek myalgia
all- denoting something as different, or as an addition Greek ἄλλος (állos), another, other alloantigen, allopathy
ambi- denoting something as positioned on both sides; describing both of two Latin ambi-, ambo, both, on both sides ambidextrous
amnio- Pertaining to the membranous fetal sac (amnion) Greek ἄμνιον (ámnion) amniocentesis
amph(i)- on both sides Greek ἀμφί (amphí) amphicrania, amphismela, amphomycin
amylo- starchy, carbohydrate-related Latin amylum, starch amylase, amylophagia
an- not, without (alpha privative) Greek analgesia
ana- back, again, up Greek ἀνα- (ana-) anaplasia
an- anus Latin anal
andr- pertaining to a man Greek ἀνήρ, ἀνδρ- (anḗr, andr-), male android, andrology, androgen
angi- blood vessel Greek ἀγγεῖον (angeîon) angiogram, angioplasty
aniso- describing something as unequal Greek ἄνῑσος (ánīsos), unequal anisocytosis, anisotropic
ankyl-, ancyl- denoting something as crooked or bent Greek ἀγκύλος (ankúlos), crooked, curved ankylosis
ante- describing something as positioned in front of another thing Latin āntē, before, in front of antepartum
anthropo- human Greek ἄνθρωπος (ánthrōpos), human anthropology
anti- describing something as 'against' or 'opposed to' another Greek ἀντί (antí), against antibody, antipsychotic
apo- away, separated from, derived from Greek ἀπό (apó) apoptosis, apocrine
archi- first, primitive Greek ἀρχι- (arkhi-) archinephron
arsen(o)- of or pertaining to a male; masculine Greek ἀρσενικός (arsenikós) arsenoblast
arteri(o)- of or pertaining to an artery Greek ἀρτηρία (artēría), a wind-pipe, artery (used distinctly versus a vein) arteriole, artery
arthr- of or pertaining to the joints, limbs Greek ἄρθρον (árthron), a joint, limb arthritis
articul- joint Latin articulus Articulation
-ary pertaining to Latin -arius biliary tract, coronary
-ase enzyme from Greek διάστασις (δια- (dia-, part, apart) + στάσις (stásis, stand)), division Lactase
-asthenia weakness Greek ἀσθένεια (asthéneia) Myasthenia gravis
atel(o)- imperfect or incomplete development Greek ἀτελής (atelḗs), without end, incomplete atelocardia
ather- fatty deposit, soft gruel-like deposit ἀθάρη (athárē) Atherosclerosis
-ation process Latin medication, civilization
atri- an atrium (esp. heart atrium) Latin atrioventricular
aur- of or pertaining to the ear Latin auris, the ear Aural
aut- self Greek αὐτός, αὐτο- (autós, auto-) Autoimmune, autograph, autobiography, automobile, automatic
aux(o)- increase; growth Greek αὐξάνω, αὔξω (auxánō, aúxō) Auxocardia: enlargement of the heart, auxology
axill- of or pertaining to the armpit (uncommon as a prefix) Latin axilla, armpit Axilla
azo(to)- nitrogenous compound French azote, nitrogen; from Greek άζωτικός (ázōtikós) ἀ- (a-, no, without) + ζωή (zōḗ, life)), mephitic air azothermia: raised temperature due to nitrogenous substances in blood


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
bacillus rod-shaped Latin baculus, stick Bacillus anthracis
bacteri- Pertaining to bacteria Latin bacterium; Greek βακτήριον (baktḗrion), small staff bacteriophage, bactericide
balan- of the glans penis or glans clitoridis Greek βάλανος (bálanos), acorn, glans balanitis
bas- of or pertaining to base Greek βάσις (básis), foundation, base basolateral
bi- twice, double Latin bi- binary vision, bicycle, bisexual
bio- life Greek βίος (bíos) biology, biological
blast- germinate or bud Greek βλαστός (blastós) blastomere
blephar(o)- of or pertaining to the eyelid Greek βλέφαρον (blépharon), eyelid blepharoplasty
brachi(o)- of or relating to the arm Latin bracchium, from Greek βραχίων (brakhíōn), arm brachium of inferior colliculus
brachy- indicating 'short' or less commonly 'little' Greek βραχύς (brakhús), short, little, shallow brachycephalic
brady- slow Greek βραδύς (bradús), slow bradycardia, bradyzoite
bronch(i)- of or relating to the bronchus Latin bronchus; 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; Greek βύρσα (búrsa), hide, wine-skin bursa, bursitis


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
capill- of or pertaining to hair Latin capillus, hair capillus
capit- pertaining to the head as a whole Latin caput, capit-, the head capitation, decapitation
carcin- cancer Greek καρκίνος (karkínos), crab carcinoma
cardi- of or pertaining to the heart Greek καρδία (kardía), heart cardiology
carp- of or pertaining to the wrist Latin carpus < Greek καρπός (karpós), wrist; NOTE: This root should not be confused with the mirror root carp(o)- meaning fruit. carpal, carpopedal spasm, metacarpal
cata- down, under Greek κατά (katá) catabolism, catacombs, cataract
-cele pouching, hernia Greek κήλη (kḗlē) hydrocele, varicocele
-centesis surgical puncture for aspiration Greek κέντησις (kéntēsis) amniocentesis
cephal(o)- of or pertaining to the head (as a whole) Greek κεφαλή (kephalḗ), the head cephalalgy, hydrocephalus
cerat(o)- of or pertaining to the cornu; a horn Greek κέρας, κερατ- (kéras, kerat-), a horn ceratoid
cerebell(o)- of or pertaining to the cerebellum Latin cerebellum, little brain cerebellum
cerebr(o)- of or pertaining to the brain Latin cerebrum, brain cerebrology
cervic- of or pertaining to the neck or the cervix Latin cervix, cervīc-), neck, cervix cervical vertebrae, cervicodorsal
cheil- of or pertaining to the lips Greek χεῖλος (kheîlos), lip, mouth, beak angular cheilitis
chem(o)- chemistry, drug Greek χημεία (khēmeía) chemical, chemistry, chemotherapy
chir-, cheir- of or pertaining to the hand Greek χείρ, χειρο- (kheír, kheiro-), hand chiropractor
chlor- denoting a green color Greek χλωρός (khlōrós), green, yellow-green chlorophyll
bil(i)-, chol(e)- of or pertaining to bile Greek χολή (kholḗ), bile cholaemia (UK) / cholemia (US), cholecystitis
cholecyst(o)- of or pertaining to the gallbladder Greek χοληκύστις (kholēkústis), gallbladder < χολή (kholḗ), bile, gall + κύστις (kústis), bladder cholecystectomy
chondr(i)o- cartilage, gristle, granule, granular Greek χονδρός (grc) chondrocalcinosis
chrom(ato)- color Greek χρῶμα (khrôma) hemochromatosis
-cidal, -cide killing, destroying Latin -cīda, cutter, killer bacteriocidal, suicide, suicidal
cili- of or pertaining to the cilia, the eyelashes; eyelids Latin cilium, eyelash; eyelid ciliary
circum- denoting something as 'around' another Latin circum, around circumcision
cis- on this side Latin cis cisgender
-clast break Greek κλαστός (klastós), broken osteoclast
clostr- spindle Greek κλωστήρ (klōstḗr), spindle, thread Clostridium
co- with, together, in association Latin co- coenzymes, co-organization
-coccus, ‑coccal round, spherical Greek κόκκος (kókkos), berry, seed Streptococcus
col-, colo-, colono- colon Greek κόλον (kólon) colonoscopy
colp- of or pertaining to the vagina Greek κόλπος (kólpos), bosom, womb; hollow, depth colposcopy
com- with, together Latin cum communicate
contra- against Latin contrā contraindication
cor- with, together Latin cor- corrective
cor- of or pertaining to the eye's pupil Greek κόρη (kórē), girl, doll; pupil of the eye corectomy
cord(i)- of or pertaining to the heart (uncommon as a prefix) Latin cor, heart commotio cordis,
cornu- applied to describing processes and parts of the body as likened or similar to horns Latin cornū, horn greater cornu
coron- pertaining to the heart Latin corōna coronary heart disease
cortic- cortex, outer region Latin cortex, bark of a tree corticosteroid
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)- belonging or relating to the cranium Latin cranium, from Greek κρᾱνίον (krāníon), cranium, skull, bones enclosing the brain craniology
-crine, crin(o)- to secrete Greek κρίνω (krínō), separate, divide, discern endocrine
cry(o)- cold Greek κρύος (krúos), cold, frost cryoablation, cryogenic
cutane- skin Latin cutis subcutaneous
cyan(o)- having a blue color Greek κύανος, κυάνεος (kúanos, kuáneos, blue, of the color blue) cyanopsia, cyanosis
cycl- circle, cycle Greek κύκλος (kúklos) cyclosis, cyclops, tricycle
cyph(o)- denotes something as bent (uncommon as a prefix) Greek κυφός (kuphós), bent, hunchback cyphosis
cyst(o)-, cyst(i)- of or pertaining to the urinary bladder Greek κύστις (kústis), bladder, cyst cystotomy
cyt(o)-, -cyte cell Greek κύτος (kútos), a hollow, vessel cytokine, leukocyte, cytoplasm


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
dacry(o)- of or pertaining to tears Greek δάκρυ, tear dacryoadenitis, dacryocystitis
-dactyl(o)- of or pertaining to a finger, toe Greek δάκτυλος (dáktulos), finger, toe dactylology, polydactyly
de- from, down, or away from Latin de- dehydrate, demonetize, demotion
dent- of or pertaining to teeth Latin dens, dentis, tooth dentifrice, dentist, dentition, dental
dermat(o)-, derm(o)- of or pertaining to the skin Greek δέρμα, δέρματος (dérma, dérmatos), skin, human skin dermatology, epidermis, hypodermic, xeroderma
-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 dis- dilation, distal, dilute
dia- through, during, across Greek διά (diá), through, during, across dialysis
dif- apart, separation Latin dif- different
digit- of or pertaining to the finger [rare as a root] Latin digitus, finger, toe digit
diplo- twofold Greek διπλόος (diplóos) diploid, diplosis
-dipsia (condition of) thirst Greek δίψα (dípsa) dipsomania, hydroadipsia, oligodipsia, polydipsia
dis- separation, taking apart Latin dis- dissection
dors(o)-, dors(i)- of or pertaining to the back Latin dorsum, back dorsal, dorsocephalad
dromo- running, conduction, course Greek δρόμος (drómos) dromotropic, syndrome
duodeno- twelve Latin duodeni duodenal atresia, duodenum
dura- hard Latin durus dura mater
dynam(o)- force, energy, power Greek δύναμις (dúnamis) hand strength dynamometer, dynamics
-dynia pain Greek ὀδύνη (odúnē) vulvodynia
dys- bad, difficult, defective, abnormal Greek δυσ- (dus-) dysentery, dysphagia, dysphasia


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
-eal (see -al) pertaining to English -al, from Latin -ālis adenohypophyseal, corneal, esophageal, perineal
ec- out, away Greek ἐκ (ek), out of, from ectopia, ectopic pregnancy
ect(o)- outer, outside Greek ἐκτός (ektós) ectoblast, ectoderm, ectoplasm
-ectasia, -ectasis expansion, dilation Greek ἔκτασις (éktasis) bronchiectasis, telangiectasia
-ectomy denotes a surgical operation or removal of a body part; resection, excision Greek ἐκτομή (ektomḗ), excision mastectomy
-emesis vomiting condition Greek ἕμεσις (hémesis) hematemesis
-emia blood condition (Am. Engl.) Greek αἷμα (haîma), "blood" anemia
encephal(o)- of or pertaining to the brain; see also cerebro- Greek ἐγκέφαλος (enképhalos), the brain encephalogram
endo- denotes something as inside or within Greek ἔνδον (éndon), inside, internal endocrinology, endospore, endoskeleton
eosin(o)- having a red color Greek ἠώς (ēṓs), dawn, daybreak, morning red, goddess of the dawn (Ἠώς, Ēṓs) eosinophil granulocyte
enter(o)- of or pertaining to the intestine Greek ἔντερον (énteron), intestine gastroenterology
epi- on, upon Greek ἐπι- (epi-), before, upon, on, outside, outside of epicardium, epidermis, epidural, episclera, epistaxis, epidemic
episi(o)- of or pertaining to the pubic region, the loins Greek ἐπίσιον (epísion), the pubic area, loins; vulva episiotomy
erythr(o)- having a red color Greek ἐρυθρός (eruthrós), red erythrocyte
-esophageal, -esophago- gullet (AmE) Greek οἰσοφάγος (oisophágos) esophagus
esthesio- sensation (AmE) Greek αἴσθησις (aísthēsis), to perceive esthesioneuroblastoma, esthesia
eu- true, good, well, normal εὖ () eukaryote, euglycemia
ex- out of, away from, to remove Latin ex- excision, exsanguination
exo- denotes something as "outside" another Greek ἔξω (éxō), outside of, external exophthalmos, exoskeleton, exoplanet
extra- outside Latin extra, outside of, beyond extradural hematoma extraordinary, extreme


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
faci- of or pertaining to the face Latin faciēs, the face, countenance facioplegic, facial
fibr- fiber Latin fibra, fiber, filament, entrails[2] fibril, fibrin, fibrinous pericarditis, fibroblast, fibrosis
fil- fine, hair-like Latin fīlum, thread filament, filum terminale
foramen hole, opening, or aperture, particularly in bone Latin forāmen foramen magnum
-form used to form adjectives indicating "having the form of" Latin fōrma, form, shape cruciform, cuneiform, falciform
fore- before or ahead Old English fōr(e)-, before, in front of foregut, foreshadow
fossa a hollow or depressed area; a trench or channel Latin fossa, ditch, pit fossa ovalis
front- of or pertaining to the forehead Latin frōns, front-, the forehead frontonasal


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
galact- milk Greek γάλα, γαλακτ- (gála, galakt-) galactorrhea, galaxy
gastr- of or pertaining to the stomach Greek γαστήρ, γαστρ- (gastḗr, gastr-), stomach, belly gastroenterology, gastropod
-gen *born in, from
  • of a certain kind
Greek -γενής (-genḗs), from γεν-νάειν (gen-náein), to be born *endogen
-genic formative; pertaining to producing Greek -γενής (-genḗs) cardiogenic shock
genu- of or pertaining to the knee Latin genū, knee genu valgum
-geusia taste Greek γεῦσις (geûsis) ageusia, dysgeusia, hypergeusia, hypogeusia, parageusia
gingiv- of or pertaining to the gums Latin gingīva, gum gingivitis
glauc(o)- Having a grey or bluish-grey colour Greek γλαυκός (glaukós), grey, bluish-grey glaucoma
gloss(o)-, glott(o)- of or pertaining to the tongue Greek γλῶσσα, γλῶττα (glôssa, glôtta), tongue glossology
gluco- sweet Greek γλυκύς (glukús), sweet glucocorticoid, glucose
glyc- sugar Greek γλυκύς (glukús), sweet glycolysis
gnath- of or pertaining to the jaw Greek γνάθος (gnáthos), jaw gnathodynamometer
-gnosis knowledge Greek γνῶσις (gnôsis), inquiry, knowledge diagnosis, prognosis
gon- seed, semen; reproductive Greek γόνος (gónos), fruit, seed, procreating gonorrhea
-gram, -gramme record or picture Greek γράμμα (grámma), picture, letter, writing angiogram, gramophone
-graph instrument used to record data or picture Greek -γραφία (-graphía), written, drawn, graphic interpretation electrocardiograph, seismograph
-graphy process of recording Greek -γραφία (-graphía), written, drawn, graphic interpretation angiography
gyno-, gynaeco- (BrE), gyneco- (AmE) woman Greek γυνή, γυναικ (gunḗ, gunaik) gynaecology, gynecomastia, gynoecium


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
halluc- to wander in mind Latin ālūcinor, to wander in mind hallucinosis, hallucination
hem(at)-, haem(ato)- of or pertaining to blood Latin hæma[citation needed], from Greek αἷμα, αἱματ- (grc), blood hematology, older form haematology
hema-, hemo- blood (AmE) Greek αἷμα, (grc), blood hemal, hemoglobin
hemangi(o)- blood vessels Greek αἷμα, (grc), blood, + ἀγγεῖον (angeîon), vessel, urn hemangioma
hemi- one-half Greek ἡμι- (hēmi-), half cerebral hemisphere
hepat-, hepatic- of or pertaining to the liver Greek ἧπαρ, ἠπᾰτ- (hêpar, ēpat-), the liver hepatology, hepatitis
heter(o)- denotes something as "the other" (of two), as an addition, or different Greek ἕτερος (héteros), the other (of two), another; different heterogeneous
hidr(o)- sweat Greek ἱδρώς, ἱδρωτ- (hidrṓs, hidrōt-), sweat, perspiration hyperhidrosis
hist(o)-, histio- tissue Greek ἱστός (histós), web, tissue histology
home(o)- similar Greek ὅμοιος (homoios), like, resembling, similar homeopathy
hom(o)- denotes something as "the same" as another or common Greek ὁμός (homós), the same, common homosexuality, homozygote, homophobic
humer(o)- of or pertaining to the shoulder (or [rarely] the upper arm) Latin umerus, shoulder humerus
hydr(o)- water Greek ὕδωρ (húdōr), water hydrophobe, hydrogen
hyper- extreme or beyond normal Greek ὑπέρ (hupér), over, above; beyond, to the extreme hypertension, hypertrichosis
hyp(o)- below normal Greek ὑπό, ὑπο- (hupó), below, under hypovolemia, hypoxia
hyster(o)- of or pertaining to the womb or the uterus Greek ὑστέρα (hustéra), womb hysterectomy, hysteria


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
-iasis condition, formation, or presence of Latin -iasis, pathological condition or process; from Greek ἴασις (íasis), cure, repair, mend mydriasis
iatr(o)- of or pertaining to medicine or a physician (uncommon as a prefix but common as a suffix; see -iatry) Greek ἰατρός (iatrós), healer, physician iatrochemistry, iatrogenesis
-iatry denotes a field in medicine emphasizing a certain body component Greek ἰατρός (iatrós), healer, physician podiatry, psychiatry
-ic pertaining to Greek -ικός (-ikós) hepatic artery
-ics organized knowledge, treatment Latin -icus, collection of related things, theme; cognate with Greek -ικός (ikós), of, pertaining to obstetrics
idio- self, one's own Greek ἴδιος (ídios), one's own idiopathic
ileo- ileum Greek εἰλεός (eileós), to shut in, intestinal obstruction ileocecal valve
infra- below Latin īnfrā, below infrahyoid muscles
inter- between, among Latin inter interarticular ligament
intra- within Latin intrā intramural
ipsi- same Latin ipsi- ipsilateral
irid(o)- of or pertaining to the iris Latin īrīs, rainbow; from Greek ἶρις (îris), rainbow iridectomy
isch- restriction Greek ἴσχω (ískhō), hold back, restrain ischemia
ischio- of or pertaining to the ischium, the hip-joint Greek ἰσχίον (iskhíon), hip-joint, ischium ischioanal fossa
-ine of or pertaining to Latin -īnus, of or pertaining to; cognate with Greek -ινος, added to form adjectives relating to material, time, and so on morphine, masculine/​feminine
-ism condition, disease Greek -ισμός (-ismós), suffix forming abstract nouns of state, condition, doctrine dwarfism
-ismus spasm, contraction Greek -ισμός hemiballismus
iso- denoting something as being equal Greek ἴσος (ísos), equal isotonic
-ist one who specializes in Greek -ιστής (-istḗs), agent noun, one who practices pathologist
-ite the nature of, resembling Latin -ītēs, those belonging to, from Greek -ίτης (-ítēs) dendrite
-itis inflammation Greek -ῖτις (-îtis) fem. form of -ίτης (-ítēs), pertaining to, because it was used with the feminine noun νόσος (nósos, disease), thus -îtis nósos, disease of the, disease pertaining to tonsillitis
-ium structure, tissue Latin -ium, aggregation or mass of (such as tissue) pericardium


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
juxta- near to, alongside, or next to Latin iuxta juxtaglomerular apparatus
kal- potassium New Latin kalium, potassium hyperkalemia
kary-[3] nucleus Greek κάρυον (káruon), nut eukaryote
kerat-[4] cornea (eye or skin) Greek κέρας (kéras), horn keratoscope
kine-[5] movement Greek κινέω (kinéō), to move, to change akinetopsia, kinesthesia
koil-[6] hollow Greek κοῖλος (koîlos) koilocyte
kyph-[7] humped Greek κυφός (kuphós), bent forward, stooping, hunchbacked kyphoscoliosis


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
labi- of or pertaining to the lip Latin labia, labium, lip labiodental
lacrim(o)- tear Latin lacrima, tear from crying Lacrimal canaliculi
lact(i)-, lact(o) milk Latin lac, milk lactation, lactose
lapar(o)- of or pertaining to the abdominal wall, flank Greek λαπάρα (lapára), flank laparotomy
laryng(o)- of or pertaining to the larynx, the lower throat cavity where the voice box is Greek λᾰ́ρυγξ, (lárunx), throat, gullet larynx
latero- lateral Latin laterālis, lateral, of or belonging to the side lateral pectoral nerve
lei(o)- smooth Greek λεῖος (leîos), smooth leiomyoma
-lepsis, -lepsy attack, seizure Greek λῆψις (lêpsis), seizure epilepsy, narcolepsy
lept(o)- light, slender Greek λεπτός (leptós), thin, lean leptomeningeal
leuc(o)-, leuk(o)- denoting a white color Greek λευκός (leukós), white, bright, pale leukocyte
lingu(a)-, lingu(o)- of or pertaining to the tongue Latin lingua, tongue, speech, language linguistics
lip(o)- fat Greek λίπος (lípos), fat, lard liposuction
liss(os)- smooth Greek Λισσός (Lissós), smooth lissencephaly
lith(o)- stone, calculus Greek λῐ́θος (líthos) lithotripsy
log(o)- speech Greek λόγος (lógos) dialog, catalog, logos
-logist denotes someone who studies a certain field (the field of _____-logy); a specialist; one who treats Greek λογιστής (logistḗs), studier, practitioner (lit., accountant) oncologist, pathologist
-logy denotes the academic study or practice of a certain field; the study of Greek -λογῐ́ᾱ (-logíā) base noun for the study of something hematology, urology
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
lymph(o)- lymph Latin lympha, water lymphedema
lys(o)-, -lytic dissolution Greek λῠ́σῐς (lúsis), loosen, release, + -ic lysosome
-lysis destruction, separation Greek λῠ́σῐς (lúsis), loosen, release paralysis


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
macr(o)- large, long Greek μᾰκρός (makrós), long, tall macrophage
-malacia softening Greek μαλακία (malakía), soft, weak, self-indulgent 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
mast(o)- of or pertaining to the breast Greek μαστός (mastós), breast, woman's breast, man's pectoral muscle mastectomy
meg(a)-, megal(o)-, -megaly enlargement, million Greek μέγᾰς (mégas), big, large, great, mighty splenomegaly, megameter
melan(o)- having a black color Greek μέλᾱς, μελανο- (mélās, melano-), black, dark melanin
melos extremity Greek μέλος (mélos), part of a body, limb, member erythromelalgia
mening(o)- membrane Greek μῆνῐγξ (mêninx) meninges, meningitis
men- month, menstrual cycle Greek μήν (mḗn), month menopause, menorrhagia
mer(o)- part Greek μέρος (méros), part, component, region merocrine, meroblastic
mes- middle Greek μέσος (mésos), middle, between, half mesoderm, mesothelium
met, meta- after, beside, beyond or change Greek μετᾰ́ (metá), with, among, along with, in common with metacarpal, metacarpus, metacromion, metanephros, metatheria
-meter instrument used to measure or count Greek μέτρον (métron), measure or property, something used to measure sphygmomanometer, thermometer
-metry process of measuring, -meter + -y (see -meter) Greek μέτρον (métron) optometry
metr- pertaining to conditions or instruments of the uterus Greek μήτρᾱ (mḗtrā), womb, uterus metrorrhagia
micr- millionth; denoting something as small, relating to smallness Greek μῑκρός (mīkrós), small microscope
milli- thousandth Latin mille, thousand milliliter
mon- single Greek μονός (monós) infectious mononucleosis
morph- form, shape Greek μορφή (morphḗ) morphology
muscul(o)- muscle Latin mūsculus, muscle (lit. mouse-like, due to mouse-shaped appearance of some muscles; loanword from Greek μῦς (mûs), mouse, + Latin -culus, diminutive suffix) musculoskeletal system
my(o)- of or relating to muscle Greek μῦς, μυ- (mûs, mu-), muscle, mouse, mussel myoblast
myc(o)- fungus Greek μύκης, μυκητ- (múkēs, mukēt-), mushroom or fungus onychomycosis
myel(o)- of or relating to bone marrow or the spinal cord Greek μυελός (muelós), marrow, bone-marrow myelin sheath, myeloblast
myl(o)- of or relating to molar teeth or the lower jaw Greek μῠ́λη (múlē, mill, grind, molars mylohyoid nerve
myri- ten thousand Greek μῡρῐ́ος (mūríos), innumerable, countless, infinite myriad
myring(o)- eardrum Latin myringa, eardrum myringotomy
myx(o)- mucus Greek μύξᾰ (múxa), mucus, nasal discharge myxoma


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
nan(o)- dwarf, small Greek νᾶνος (nânos), dwarf nanogram, nanosecond
narc(o)- numb, sleep Greek νάρκη (nárkē), numbess, torpor narcolepsy
nas(o)- of or pertaining to the nose Latin nāsus, nose nasal
nat(o)- birth Latin nātus, born, arisen, made neonatology
necr(o)- death Greek νεκρός (nekrós), dead body, corpse, dying person necrosis, necrotizing fasciitis
neo- new Greek νέος (néos), young, youthful, new, fresh neoplasm
nephr(o)- of or pertaining to the kidney 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 Greek νεῦρον (neûron), tendon, string, nerve nerve, nervous system
neur- of or pertaining to nerves and the nervous system Greek νεῦρον (neûron), tendon, sinew, nerve neurofibromatosis
noci- pain, injury, hurt Latin noceō nociception
norm-, normo- normal Latin nōrma, norm or standard; lit. carpenter's square normocapnia


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
ocul- of or pertaining to the eye Latin oculus, the eye Oculist
odont- of or pertaining to teeth Greek ὀδούς, ὀδοντ- (odoús, odont-), tooth orthodontist
odyn- pain Greek ὀδύνη (odúnē) stomatodynia
-oesophageal, oesophago- (BrE) gullet Greek οἰσοφᾰ́γος (oisophágos) oesophagus
-oid resemblance to Greek -ειδής (-eidḗs), like, connected to, pertaining to Sarcoidosis
ole small or little Latin -olus, suffix to form a diminutive of the noun arteriole
olig- having little, having few Greek ὀλῐ́γος (olígos), few oligotrophy
om(o)- shoulder Greek ὦμος (ômos), shoulder omoplate
-oma (singular), -omata (plural) tumor, mass, fluid collection Greek -μα (-ma), suffix added to verbs to form nouns indicating the result of a process or action; cf. English -tion sarcoma, teratoma, mesothelioma
omphal(o)- of or pertaining to the navel, the umbilicus Greek ὀμφαλός (omphalós), navel, belly-button omphalotomy
onco- tumor, bulk, volume Greek ὄγκος (ónkos) oncology
-one hormone
onych(o)- of or pertaining to the nail (of a finger or toe) Greek ὄνυξ, ὀνυχο- (ónux, onukho-), nail; claw; talon onychophagy
oo- of or pertaining to an (egg), a woman's egg, the ovum Greek ᾠόν, ᾠο- (ōión, ōio-), egg, ovum oogenesis
oophor(o)- of or pertaining to the woman's (ovary) Neoclassical Greek ᾠοφόρον (ōiophóron), ovary, egg-bearing oophorectomy
ophthalm(o)- of or pertaining to the (eye) Greek ὀφθαλμός (ophthalmós), the eye ophthalmology
opistho- back, behind, rear[8] Greek ὄπῐσθεν (ópisthen), behind, at the back opisthotonus
-opsy examination or inspection Greek ὄψῐς (ópsis), view biopsy, autopsy
optic(o)- of or relating to chemical properties of the eye Middle French optique; from Greek ὀπτῐκός (optikós); cognate with Latin oculus, relating to the eye opticochemical, biopsy
or(o)- of or pertaining to the mouth Latin ōs, ōris, mouth oral
-or one who, agent noun–forming suffix generally appended where Latin would do it—to the root of a Latin-type perfect passive participle. Cf. -er doctor
orchi(o)-, orchid(o)-, orch(o)- testis Greek ὄρχις (órkhis), testicle, ovary orchiectomy, orchidectomy
orth(o)- denoting something as straight or correct Greek ὀρθός (orthós), straight, correct, normal orthodontist
-osis a condition, disease, process or increase Greek -ωσις (-ōsis), state, abnormal condition, action Harlequin type ichthyosis, psychosis, osteoporosis, phagocytosis
ossi-, osse- bone, bony Latin os, bone peripheral ossifying fibroma, osseous
ost(e)-, oste(o)- bone Greek ὀστέον (ostéon), bone osteoporosis, osteoarthritis
ot(o)- of or pertaining to the ear Greek οὖς, ὠτ- (oûs, ōt-), the ear otology
-ous pertaining to Latin -ōsus, full of, prone to porous
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-, ox/i addition of oxygen
oxy- sharp, acid, acute; oxygen borrowed from French oxygène (originally principe oxigine, 'acidifying principle', referring to oxygen's role in the formation of acids, from Greek ὀξύς (oxús), sharp, pointed + γένος (génos), birth) oxytocin, oxygenated, oxycodone


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
pachy- thick Greek πᾰχῠ́ς (pakhús), thick, large, stout pachyderma, pachyderm
-pagus Indicates conjoined twins, with the first part denoting the organs fused Greek πάγος (págos), fixed, set, fastened xiphopagus, parapagus dicephalus, craniopagus parasiticus
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'; "all" Greek πᾶς, παν- (pâs, pan-), all, every panophobia, panopticon, pancytopenia (deficiency in all blood cell types - erythrocytes, leukocytes, thrombocytes)[9]
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
para- alongside of Greek πᾰρᾰ́ (pará) paracyesis
-paresis slight paralysis Greek πάρεσις (páresis) hemiparesis
parvo- small Latin parvus, small, little, unimportant Parvovirus
path(o)- disease Greek πᾰ́θος (páthos), pain, suffering, condition Pathology
-pathy denotes (with a negative sense) a disease, or disorder Greek πᾰ́θος (páthos), suffering, accident sociopathy, neuropathy
pauci- Few Latin paucus Pauci-immune
pector- breast or chest Latin pectus pectoralgia, pectoriloquy, pectorophony
ped-, -ped-, -pes of or pertaining to the foot; -footed Latin pēs, pēd-, foot Pedoscope
ped-, pedo- of or pertaining to the child Greek παῖς, παιδός (paîs, paidós), child pediatrics. pedophilia
pelv(i)-, pelv(o)- hip bone Latin pelvis, basin Pelvis
-penia deficiency Greek πενῐ́ᾱ, poverty, indigence osteopenia
peo- of or pertaining to the penis Greek πέος (péos) Peotomy
-pepsia denotes something relating to digestion, or the digestive tract. Greek πεπτός (peptós), cooked, digested < πέσσω (péssō), I boil, cook; digest dyspepsia
per- through Latin per, through, by means of percutaneous
peri- denoting something with a position 'surrounding' or 'around' another Greek περῐ́ (perí), around, about, concerning periodontal
-pexy fixation Greek πῆξις (pêxis), fixing in place, fastening nephropexy
phaco- lens-shaped Greek φᾰκός (phakós), lentil-bean phacolysis, phacometer, phacoscotoma
-phagia, -phage Forms terms denoting conditions relating to eating or ingestion Greek φαγία (phagía) eating < φᾰγεῖν (phageîn), to eat Sarcophagia
-phago- eating, devouring Greek -φᾰ́γος (-phágos), eater of, eating phagocyte
phagist- Forms nouns that denote a person who 'feeds on' the first element or part of the word Greek φαγιστής (phagistḗs) eater; see -phagia Lotophagi
-phagy Forms nouns that denotes 'feeding on' the first element or part of the word Greek φαγία (phagia) eating; see -phagia hematophagy
phall- phallus Greek φαλλός (phallós), penis Aphallia
pharmac- drug, medication Greek φάρμᾰκον (phármakon), witchcraft, drug pharmacology
pharyng- of or pertaining to the pharynx, the upper throat cavity Greek φᾰ́ρῠγξ, φαρυγγ- (phárunx, pharung-), throat, windpipe; chasm pharyngitis, pharyngoscopy
-phil(ia) attraction for Greek φῐλῐ́ᾱ (philíā), friendship, love, affection hemophilia
phleb- of or pertaining to the (blood) veins, a vein Greek φλέψ, φλεβ- (phléps, phleb-), blood-vessel, vein phlebography, phlebotomy
-phobia exaggerated fear, sensitivity, aversion Greek φόβος (phóbos), terror, fear, flight, panic arachnophobia
phon- sound Greek φωνή (phōnḗ) phonograph, symphony
phos- of or pertaining to light or its chemical properties, now historic and used rarely. See the common root phot- below. Greek φῶς, φᾰ́ος, φωτ- (phôs, pháos), light phosphene
phot- of or pertaining to light Greek φωτω- (phōtō-), < φῶς (phôs), light photopathy
phren-, phrenic- the mind Greek φρήν (phrḗn), intellect, wits, mind phrenic nerve, schizophrenia
phyllo- leaf-like Greek φῠ́λλον (phúllon), leaf, foliage, plant phyllodes tumour, phyllotaxis
-phyte, phyto- to grow Greek φῠτόν (phutón), plant, tree hydrophyte
pia soft Medieval Latin pia mater, tender mother, from Latin pia, pius, pious, dutiful, good pia mater
piri- Pear Latin pirum, cognate with Greek ἄπιον (ápion), pear Piriformis muscle
-plasia formation, development Greek πλᾰ́σῐς (plásis), moulding, conformation Achondroplasia
-plasty surgical repair, reconstruction Greek πλαστός (plastós), molded, formed rhinoplasty
-plegia paralysis Greek πληγή (plēgḗ), stroke (from a sword), from πληγή (plēgḗ), to strike or smite paraplegia
pleio- more, excessive, multiple Greek πλεῖον (pleîon), more pleiomorphism
pleur- of or pertaining to the ribs Greek πλευρᾱ́ (pleurā́), rib, side of the body Pleurogenous
-plexy stroke or seizure Greek πλήσσω, πλήσσειν (plḗssō, plḗssein), to strike or smite Cataplexy
pne-, pneum- air, breath, lung Greek πνεῖν (pneîn), πνεῦμα, πνεύματος (pneûma, pneúmatos), πνεύμων (pneúmōn) apnea, pneumatology, pneumonocyte, pneumonia
pod-, -pod-, -pus of or pertaining to the foot, -footed Greek πούς, ποδ- (poús, pod-), foot podiatry
-poiesis production Greek ποίησις (poíēsis), poetry, poem, creation hematopoiesis
polio- having a grey color Greek πολῐός (poliós), grey, grizzled poliomyelitis
poly- denotes a 'plurality' of something Greek πολῠ́ς (polús), many, a lot of, large, great polymyositis
por- pore, porous Greek πόρος (póros), passage, passageway pore
porphyr- denotes a purple color Greek πορφύρα (porphúra), Tyrian purple, royal purple porphyroblast
post- denotes something as 'after (time)' or 'behind (space)' another Latin post, after, behind postoperation, postmortem
pre- denotes something as 'before' another (in [physical] position or time) Middle English pre-, from Medieval Latin pre- < (Classical) Latin prae-, before, in front of premature birth
presby- old age Greek πρέσβυς (présbus), old man, elder presbyopia, presbycusis[10]
prim- denotes something as 'first' or 'most-important' Latin prīmus, first, most important primary
pro- denotes something as 'before' another (in [physical] position or time) Greek πρό- (pró-), before, in front of procephalic
proct- anus, rectum Greek πρωκτός (prōktós), anus proctology
prosop- face Greek πρόσωπον (prósōpon), face, visage, mask prosopagnosia
prot- denotes something as 'first' or 'most important' Greek πρωτος (prōtos), first; principal, most important protoneuron
pseud- denotes something false or fake Greek ψεύδω (pseúdō), to lie or deceive pseudoephedrine
psor- Itching Greek ψώρα (psṓra), itch, mange, scurvy psoriasis
psych- of or pertaining to the mind Greek ψυχή (psukhḗ), breath, life, soul psychology, psychiatry
ptero-, ptery- Pertaining to a wing; 'pterygo-', wing-shaped Greek πτερόν (pterón), wing, feather lateral pterygoid plate
-ptosis falling, drooping, downward placement, prolapse Greek πτῶσῐς (ptôsis), falling apoptosis, nephroptosis
-ptyal-, ptyalo saliva, salivary glands, sialaden ptyalolithiasis
-ptysis spitting Greek πτῡ́ω (ptū́ō), to spit up, disgorge; + -σις (-sis), added to verb stems to form abstract nouns or nouns of action, result or process hemoptysis, the spitting of blood derived from the lungs or bronchial tubes
pulmon-, pulmo- of or relating to the lungs Latin pulmō, a lung pulmonary
py- pus Greek πύον (púon), pus pyometra
pyel- pelvis Greek πύελος (púelos), pelvis, wash basin pyelonephritis
pykno- to thicken (as the nucleus does in early stages of cell death) Greek πύκνωσις (púknōsis), thickening pyknosis
pylor- gate Greek πυλωρός (pulōrós), gate keeper; lower orifice of the stomach pyloric sphincter
pyr- fever Greek πῦρ, πυρετός (pûr, puretós), fire, heat, fever antipyretic


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
quadr(i)- four Latin quattuor quadriceps
radi- radiation Latin radiō, I radiate, emit beams; from radius, ray of light, spoke of a wheel radiowave
radic- referring to the beginning, or the root, of a structure, usually a nerve or a vein Latin rādīx, root radiculopathy
re- again, back Latin re- relapse
rect- rectum abbr. of New Latin rectum intestinum ('straight intestine') < Latin rēctus, straight rectal, rectum, rectus femoris
ren(o) of or pertaining to the kidney Latin rēn, rēnes, kidney renal
reticul(o)- net Latin rēticulum reticulocyte
retro- backward, behind Latin retro retroversion, retroverted
rhabd(o)- rod shaped, striated Greek ῥᾰ́βδος (rhábdos), wand, stick, stripe rhabdomyolysis
rhachi(o)- spine Greek ῥάχις (rhákhis), spine or backbone rachial, rachialgia, rachidian, rachiopathy
rhin(o)- of or pertaining to the nose Greek ῥίς, ῥῑνο- (rhís, rhīno-), nose rhinoceros, rhinoplasty
rhod(o)- denoting a rose-red color Greek ῥόδον (rhódon), rose rhodophyte
-rrhage, -rrhagia burst forth, rapid flow (of blood, usually) Greek -ραγία (-ragía), to break, to burst hemorrhage, menorrhagia
-rrhaphy surgical suturing Greek ῥαφή (rhaphḗ) hymenorrhaphy, neurorrhaphy
-rrhea (AmE) flowing, discharge Greek ῥοίᾱ (rhoíā), flow, flux galactorrhea, diarrhea
-rrhexis rupture Greek ῥῆξῐς (rhêxis), breaking, bursting, discharge karyorrhexis
-rrhoea (BrE) flowing, discharge Greek ῥοίᾱ (rhoíā), flow, flux diarrhoea
rubr(o)- of or pertaining to the red nucleus of the brain Latin ruber, red rubrospinal
-rupt break or burst Latin rumpō erupt, interrupt


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
salping(o)- of or pertaining to tubes, e.g. fallopian tubes Greek σᾰ́λπῐγξ, σαλπιγγ-, (sálpinx, salping-), trumpet salpingectomy, salpingopharyngeus muscle
sangui-, sanguine- of or pertaining to blood Latin sanguis, blood sanguine
sapro- relating to putrefaction or decay Greek σαπρός (saprós), rotten, putrid saprogenic
sarco- muscular, flesh-like Greek σάρξ (sárx), flesh sarcoma, sarcoidosis
scapul(o)- of or pertaining to the scapula Latin (scapula), shoulder scapulothoracic, facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy
schist(o)- split, cleft Greek σχῐστός (skhistós), cloven, divided schistocyte
schiz(o)- denoting something "split" or "double-sided" Greek σχῐ́ζω (skhízō), I split, cleave, part; irregular formation of the verb σχῐ́ζειν (skhízein), to cut, split schizophrenia
scler(o)- hard Greek σκληρός (sklērós) scleroderma
-sclerosis hardening Greek σκληρός (sklērós), hard, harden; + -σῐς (-sis), added to verb stems to form abstract nouns or nouns of action, result or process atherosclerosis, multiple sclerosis
scoli(o)- twisted Greek σκολιός (skoliós), curved, bent scoliosis
-scope instrument for viewing Greek σκόπος (skópos), watcher stethoscope
-scopy process of viewing Greek σκοπέω (skopéō), to look at, behold, examine endoscopy
scoto- darkness Greek σκότος (skótos) scotopic vision
semi- one-half, partly Latin semi- semiconscious
sial(o)- saliva, salivary gland Latin salīva, saliva. sialagogue
sigmoid(o)- sigmoid, S-shaped curvature Greek σιγμοειδής (sigmoeidḗs), crescent-shaped, lunate sigma-shaped sigmoid colon
sinistr(o)- left, left side Latin sinister sinistrocardia
sinus- of or pertaining to the sinus Latin sinus, a curve, bend, hollow cavity, bosom sinusitis
sito- food, grain Greek σῖτος (sîtos) sitophobia
somat(o)-, somatico- body, bodily Greek σῶμα (sôma) somatic
somn(o) Sleep Latin somnus, sleep, drowsiness insomniac[11]
-spadias slit, fissure Greek σπάω (spáō), break, split hypospadias, epispadias
spasmo- spasm Greek σπασμός (spasmós) Spasmodic dysphonia
sperma-, spermo-, spermato- semen, spermatozoa Greek σπέρμα (spérma), seed, semen spermatogenesis
splanchn(i)-, splanchn(o)- viscera Greek σπλᾰ́γχνον (splánkhnon), bowels, guts splanchnology
splen(o)- spleen Greek σπλήν, σπλην- (splḗn, splēn-), spleen, milt splenectomy
spondyl(o)- of or pertaining to the spine, the vertebra Greek σφόνδῠλος / σπόνδυλος (sphóndulos, spóndulos), the spine spondylitis
squamos(o)- denoting something as "full of scales" or "scaly" Latin squāmōsus, full of scales, scaly squamous cell
-stalsis contraction Greek στέλλω (stéllō), I dispatch, place, set peristalsis
-stasis stopping, standing Greek στᾰ́σῐς (stásis), to stand, place, set cytostasis, homeostasis
-statin maintain cholesterol Latin (stare), to remain or instill Statin
-staxis dripping, trickling Greek στάζω, στακτός (stázō, staktós), drip, leak, trickle epistaxis
sten(o)- denoting something as narrow in shape or pertaining to narrowness Greek στενός (stenós), narrow, short stenography
-stenosis abnormal narrowing of a blood vessel or other tubular organ or structure Greek στενός (stenós), narrow, short; + -σῐς (-sis), added to verb stems to form abstract nouns or nouns of action, result or process restenosis, stenosis
steth- of or pertaining to the upper chest, the area above the breast and under the neck Greek στῆθος (stêthos), chest, cuirass stethoscope
stheno- strength, force, power Greek σθένος (sthénos)
stom-, stomat- of or pertaining to the mouth; an artificially created opening[12] Greek στόμᾰ, στοματ- (stóma, stomat-), mouth stomatogastric, stomatognathic system
-stomy creation of an opening New Latin stoma, opening; from Greek στόμᾰ (stóma) colostomy
sub- beneath, under Latin sub subcutaneous tissue
super- in excess, above, superior Latin super superior vena cava
supra- above, excessive Latin supra 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- Greek σῠν- (sun-), with, together symptom, synalgia, synesthesia, syssarcosis


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
tachy- denoting something as fast, irregularly fast Greek τᾰχῠ́ς (takhús), fast, quickly tachycardia, tachypnea
-tension, -tensive pressure Latin tēnsiō, stretching, extension, tension hypertension
terato- Monster Greek τέρᾰς (téras) teratoma, teratogen
tetan- rigid, tense Greek τέτανος (tétanos) tetanus
thec- case, sheath Greek θήκη (thḗkē) intrathecal
thel- of or pertaining to a nipple (uncommon as a prefix) Greek θηλή (thēlḗ), a teat, nipple Theleplasty, thelarche
thely- denoting something as relating to a woman, feminine Greek θῆλῠς (thêlus), female, feminine Thelygenous
therap- treatment Greek θερᾰπείᾱ (therapeíā) hydrotherapy, therapeutic
therm(o)- heat Greek θερμός (thermós) hypothermia, thermoregulation
thorac(i)-, thorac(o)-, thoracico- of or pertaining to the upper chest, chest; the area above the breast and under the neck Latin thōrāx < Greek θώρᾱξ (thṓrāx), chest, cuirass thoracic spine, thorax
thromb(o)- of or relating to a blood clot, clotting of blood Greek θρόμβος (thrómbos), lump, piece, clot of blood thrombus, thrombocytopenia
thyr(o)- thyroid Greek θῠρεός (thureós), large oblong shield; + εἶδος (eîdos), a form or shape
thym- emotions Greek θῡμός (thūmós), spirit, soul; courage; breath, mind, emotions dysthymia
-tic pertaining to Greek -τῐκός (-tikós), adjective-forming suffix denoting: relating to, able to, suited to
-tide bound to, forming a noun from an adjective by dropping -ic and adding -tide. Greek - πεπτός (- peptós), adjective-forming suffix denoting: bound to, relating to, able to, suited to Glycopeptide Nucleotide Peptide
toco- childbirth Greek τόκος (tókos) tocolytic, dystocia
-tome cutting instrument Greek τομή (tomḗ), intersection osteotome
-tomy act of cutting; incising, incision Greek τομία (-tomía) Gastrotomy, Phlebotomy
ton- tone, tension, pressure Greek τόνος (tónos), rope, cord; tension Tonicity, Isotonic saline
-tony tension Greek -τονία (-tonía) Hypotonia
top(o)- place, topical Greek τόπος (tópos) Topical anesthetic
tort(i)- twisted Latin tortus Torticollis, Testicular torsion
tox(i)-, tox(o)-, toxic(o)- toxin, poison Greek τοξικόν (toxikón), bow (archery), bow-related; from Greek τοξικόν φάρμᾰκον (toxikón phármakon), poison for smearing arrows with Toxoplasmosis, Toxidrome
trache(a)- trachea Greek τραχεῖα (trakheîa), windpipe Tracheotomy
trachel(o)- of or pertaining to the neck Greek τρᾰ́χηλος (trákhēlos), neck Tracheloplasty
trans- denoting something as moving or situated across or through Latin trāns, across, through Transfusion
tri- three Latin tri- Triceps, Trisomy
trich(i)-, trichia, trich(o)- of or pertaining to hair, hair-like structure Greek θρῐ́ξ (thríx), hair Trichocyst
-tripsy crushing Greek τρῖψις (trípsis), rubbing, friction Lithotripsy
-trophy nourishment, development Greek τροφή (trophḗ), food, nourishment Pseudohypertrophy
-trop turned toward, with an orientation toward, having an affinity for, affecting Greek τρόπος (trópos), a turn, way, manner, style Geotropic, Phototropic
tympan(o)- eardrum Greek τῠ́μπᾰνον (túmpanon), drum, eardrum Tympanocentesis, Tensor tympani


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
-ula, -ule small Latin Nodule
ultra- beyond, excessive Latin ultra ultrasound, ultraviolet
umbilic- of or pertaining to the navel, the umbilicus Latin umbilīcus, navel, belly-button umbilical
ungui- of or pertaining to the nail, a claw Latin unguis, nail, claw unguiform, ungual
un(i)- one Latin ūnus unilateral hearing loss
ur- of or pertaining to urine, the urinary system Greek οὐρέω, οὐρεῖν (ouréō, oureîn); οὖρον (oûron), urine antidiuretic, diuresis, diuretic, dysuria, enuresis, polyurea, polyuria, uraemia/uremia, uremic, ureter, urethra, urology
urin- of or pertaining to urine, the urinary system Latin ūrīna, urine < Greek οὖρον (oûron), see ur- above. uriniferous
uter(o)- of or pertaining to the uterus or womb Latin uterus, womb, uterus uterus


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
vagin- of or pertaining to the vagina Latin vāgīna, sheath, scabbard; vagina vaginal epithelium
varic(o)- swollen or twisted vein Latin varix varicose, esophageal varices
vas(o)- duct, blood vessel Latin vās, vessel, dish, vase vasoconstriction
vasculo- blood vessel Latin vāsculum cardiovascular
ven- of or pertaining to the veins, venous blood, and the vascular system Latin vēna, blood-vessel, vein venule, venospasm
ventr(o)- of or pertaining to the belly, the stomach cavities Latin venter, belly, stomach, womb ventrodorsal
ventricul(o)- of or pertaining to the ventricles; any hollow region inside an organ Latin ventriculus, the ventricles of the heart, the ventricles of the brain cardiac ventriculography, atrioventricular node
-version turning Latin versiō anteversion, retroversion
vesic(o)- of or pertaining to the bladder Latin vēsīca, bladder, blister vesical arteries
viscer(o)- of or pertaining to the internal organs, the viscera Latin viscus (pl. viscera), internal organ(s) viscera


Affix Meaning Origin language and etymology Example(s)
xanth(o)- having a yellow color, especially an abnormally yellow color Greek ξᾰνθός (xanthós), yellow xanthopathy


xen(o)- foreign, different Greek ξένος (xénos), foreign, stranger xenograft
xer(o)- dry, desert-like Greek ξηρός (xērós), dry xerostomia, xeroderma
xiph- sword Greek ξῐ́φος (xíphos), sword xiphisternum, xiphoid, xiphoidalgia
-y condition or process of Latin -ia, from Greek -ῐ́ᾱ, -ειᾰ (-íā, -eia), suffixes used to form abstract nouns surgery
ze- boil Greek ζέω (zéō), to boil, seethe, bubble eczema
zo(o)- animal, animal life Greek ζῷον (zôion) zoology
zym(o)- fermentation Greek ζύμη (zúmē), leaven, yeast enzyme, lysozyme

English meanings[edit]

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[edit]

Roots of bodily concepts[edit]

Bodily concept Greek root in English Latin root in English Other root in English
digestion -pepsia
disease -pathy
eating -phagia -vory

Body parts and substances[edit]

Body part or component Greek root in English Latin root in English Other root in English
abdomen lapar- abdomin-
aorta aort-
arm brachi- arm-
armpit maschal- axill-
artery arteri-
back not- dors-
big toe allic-, hallic-
bladder cyst- vesic-
blood haem(at)- (Br. English);
hem(at)- (Am. English)
sangui-, sanguin-
blood clot thromb-
blood vessel angi- vas-, vascul-
body soma-, somat- corpor-
bone oste- ossi-
bone marrow, marrow myel- medull-
brain encephal- cerebr-
breast mast- mamm-
chest steth- 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-
hands 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)- 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 derm-, dermat(o)- 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[edit]

Color Greek root in English Latin root in English Other root in English
black melan- atr-, nigr-
blue cyan- cerule-
gold chrys- aur-
gray, grey poli- can-
green chlor- vir-
purple porphyr- purpur-, purpureo-
red erythr-, rhod- rub-, rubr-, ruf-
red-orange cirrh-
silver argent-
white leuc-, leuk- alb-, cand-
yellow xanth- flav- jaun- (French)

Roots of description[edit]

Description Greek root in English Latin root in English Other root in English
bad, incorrect cac-, dys- mal- mis-
bent, crooked ankyl- prav-
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)-
fast tachy- celer-
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)-
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)-
soft malac(o)- moll(i)-
straight orth(o)- rect(i)-
thick pachy- crass(i)-
varied, various poikilo- vari-

Roots of position[edit]

Description Greek root in English Latin root in English Other root in English
around, surrounding peri- circum-
internal, within endo- intra-
left levo- laev-, sinistr-
middle meso-, mes- medi-
right dexi- dex-, dextr-, dextro-

Prefixes of quantity or amount[edit]

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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ ἀκούω
  2. ^ "Latin Word Study Tool". Retrieved 25 February 2017.
  3. ^ κάρυον. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project
  4. ^ κέρας in Liddell and Scott
  5. ^ κινέω in Liddell and Scott
  6. ^ κοῖλος in Liddell and Scott
  7. ^ κύπτω in Liddell and Scott
  8. ^ "opistho-".
  9. ^ The Language of Medicine, 11th edition, Davi-Ellen Chabner
  10. ^ Stedman's Online
  11. ^ The Language of Medicine 11th Edition, Davi-Ellen Chabner
  12. ^ Stanfield, Peggy S.; Hui, Y. H.; Cross, Nanna (30 September 2013). Essential Medical Terminology. Jones & Bartlett Learning. ISBN 978-1284038781.

External links[edit]