Word Roots, Prefixes, Suffixes, and Combining Forms

Prefixes and Combining Forms

a-, an- absence or lack acardia, lack of a heart; anaerobic, in the ab­sence of oxygen

ab- departing from: away from abnormal, departing from normal

acou- hearing acoustics, the science of sound

ac-, aero- extreme or extremity; peak acrodermatitis, inflammation of the skin of the extremities

ad- to or toward adorbital, toward the orbit

aden-, adeno- gland adeniform, resembling a gland in shape

adren- toward the kidney adrenal gland, adjacent to the kidney

aero- air aerobic respiration, oxygen-requiring metabolism

af- toward afferent neurons, which carry impulses to the central ner­vous system

agon-   contest   agonistic and antagonistic muscles, which oppose each other

alb- white corpus albicans of the ovary, a white scar tissue

ailment- nourish alimentary canal, or digestive tract

allel- of one another alleles, alternative expressions of a gene

amphi- on both sides; of both kinds amphibian, an organism capa­ble of living in water and on land

ana- apart, up, again anaphase of mitosis, when the chromosomes separate

anastomos- come together arteriovenous anastomosis, a connection between an artery and a vein

aneurysm a widening aortic aneurism, a weak spot that causes en­largement of the blood vessel

angi- vessel angiitis, inflammation of a lymph vessel or blood vessel

angin- choked angina pectoris, a choked feeling in the chest clue to dysfunction of the heart

ant-, anti- opposed to; preventing or inhibiting anticoagulant, a sub­stance that prevents blood coagulation

ante- preceding; before antecubital, in front of the elbow

aort- great artery aorta

ap-, api- tip, extremity apex of the heart

append- hang to appendicular skeleton

aqua-, aque- water aqueous solutions

arbor tree arbor vitae of the cerebellum, the treelike pattern of white matter

areola-   open space   areolar connective tissue, a loose connective tissue

arrect-  upright  arrector pili muscles of the skin, which make the hairs stand erect

arthr-, arthro- joint arthropathy, any joint disease

artic- joint articular surfaces of bones, the points of connection

atri- vestibule atria, upper chambers of the heart

auscult- listen auscultatory method for measuring blood pressure

aut-, auto- self autogenous, self-generated

ax-, axi-, axo- axis, axle axial skeleton, axis of vertebral column

azyg- unpaired azygous vein, an unpaired vessel

baro- pressure baroreceptors for monitoring blood pressure

basal base basal lamina of epithelial basement membrane

bi- two bicuspid, having two cusps

bill- bile bilirubin, a bile pigment

bio- life biology, the study of life and living organisms

blast- bud or germ blastocyte, undifferentiated embryonic cell

brachi- arm bracbial plexus of peripheral nervous system supplies the arm

brady- slow bradycardia, abnormally slow heart rate

brev- short peroneus brevis, a short leg muscle

broncho- bronchus bronchospasm, spasmodic contraction of bronchial muscle

bucco- cheek buccolabial, pertaining to the cheek and lip

calor- heat calories, a measure of energy

capill- hair blood and lymph capillaries

caput- head decapitate, remove the head carcin- cancer carcinogen, a cancer-causing agent cardi, cardio- heart cardiotoxic, harmful to the heart carneo- flesh trabeculae carneae, ridges of muscle in the ventricles of the heart

carot- 1) carrot, 2) stupor 1) carotene, an orange pigment; 2) carotid arteries in the neck, blockage causes fainting

cata- down catabolism, chemical breakdown

caud- tail caudal (directional term)

cec- blind cecum of large intestine, a blind-ended pouch

cele- abdominal celiac artery, in the abdomen

cephal- head cephalometer, an instrument for measuring the head

cerebro- brain, especially the cerebrum cerebrospinal, pertaining to the brain and spinal cord

cervic-, cervix neck cervix of the uterus

chiasm- crossing optic chiasma, where optic nerves cross

chole- bile cholesterol; cholecystokinin, a bile-secreting hormone

chondr- cartilage chondrogenic, giving rise to cartilage

chrom- colored chromosome, so named because they stain darkly

cili- small hair ciliated epithelium

circum- around circumnuclear, surrounding the nucleus

clavic- key clavicle, a "skeleton key"

co-, con- together concentric, common center, together in the center

coccy- cuckoo coccyx, which is beak-shaped

cochlea snail shell the cochlea of the inner ear, which is coiled like a snail shell

coel- hollow coelom, the ventral body cavity

commis-  united gray commissure of the spinal cord connects the two columns of gray matter

concha   shell   nasal conchae, coiled shelves of bone in the nasal cavity

contra- against contraceptive, agent preventing conception

corn-, cornu- horn  stratum corneum, outer layer of the skin com­posed of (horny) cells

corona crown coronal suture of the skull

corp- body corpse, corpus luteum, hormone-secreting body in the ovary

cort-   bark   cortex, the outer layer of the brain, kidney, adrenal glands, and lymph nodes

cost- rib intercostal, between the ribs

crani- skull craniotomy, a skull operation

crypt-  hidden   cryptomenorrhea, a condition in which menstrual symptoms are experienced but no external loss of blood occurs

cusp- pointed bicuspid, tricuspid valves of the heart

cutic- skin cuticle of the nail

cyan- blue cyanosis, blue color of the skin due to lack of oxygen

cyst- sac, bladder cystitis, inflammation of the urinary bladder

cyt- cell cytology, the study of cells

de- undoing, reversal, loss, removal deactivation, becoming inactive

decid- falling off deciduous (milk) teeth

delta triangular deltoid muscle, roughly triangular in shape

den-, dent- tooth dentin of the tooth

dendr-   tree, branch   dendrites, telodendria, both branches of a neuron

derm- skin dermis, deep layer of the skin

desm- bond desmosome, which binds adjacent epithelial cells

di- twice, double dimorphism, having two forms

dia- through, between diaphragm, the wall through or between two areas

dialys- separate, break apart kidney dialysis, in which waste prod­ucts are removed from the blood

diastol-  stand apart   cardiac diastole, between successive contrac­tions of the heart

diure- urinate diuretic, a drug that increases urine output

dors- the back dorsal; dorsum; dorsiflexion

due-, duct lead, draw ductus deferens which carries sperm from the epididymis into the urethra during ejaculation

dura hard dura mater, tough outer meninx

dys- difficult, faulty, painful dyspepsia, disturbed digestion

ec-, ex-, ecto- out, outside, away from excrete, to remove materials

from the body ectop-  displaced  ectopic pregnancy; ectopic focus for initiation of

heart contraction

edem- swelling edema, accumulation of water in body tissues ef- away efferent nerve fibers, which carry impulses away from the

central nervous system ejac- to shoot forth ejaculation of semen

embol- wedge embolus, an obstructive object traveling in the blood­stream

en-, em- in, inside encysted, enclosed in a cyst or capsule enceph- brain encephalitis, inflammation of the brain endo- within, inner endocytosis, taking particles into a cell entero- intestine  enterologist, one who specializes in the study of

intestinal disorders

epi- over, above epidermis, outer layer of skin erythr- red erythema, redness of the skin; erythrocyte, red blood cell eso- within esophagus

eu- well euesthesia a normal state of the senses excret separate excretory system exo- outside, outer layer exophthalmos, an abnormal protrusion of

the eye from the orbit extra-   outside, beyond   extracellular, outside the body cells of an


extrins- from the outside extrinsic regulation of the heart fasci-, fascia- bundle, band superficial and deep fascia fenestr- window fenestrae of the inner ear; fenestrated capillaries ferr- iron transferrin, ferritin, both iron-storage proteins flagell- whip flagellum, the tail of a sperm cell flat- blow, blown flatulence folli- bag, bellows hair follicle fontan- fountain fontanels of the fetal skull foram- opening foramen magnum of the skull foss- ditch fossa ovalis of the heart; mandibular fossa of the skull gam-, garnet- married, spouse gametes, the sex cells gangli- swelling, or knot dorsal root ganglia of the spinal nerves gastr-   stomach   gastrin, a hormone that influences gastric acid


gene beginning, origin genetics germin- grow germinal epithelium of the gonads gero-, geront- old man gerontology, the study of aging gest- carried gestation, the period from conception to birth glauc- gray glaucoma, which causes gradual blindness glom- ball glomerali, clusters of capillaries in the kidneys glosso- tongue glossopathy, any disease of the tongue gluco-, glyco- gluconeogenesis, the production of glucose from non-carbohydrate molecules

glute- buttock gluteus maximus, largest muscle of the buttock gnost- knowing the gnostic sense, a sense of awareness of self gompho-   nail   gomphosis, the term applied to the joint between

tooth and jaw

gon-, gono- seed, offspring gonads, the sex organs gust- taste gustatory sense, the sense of taste hapt- fasten, grasp hapten, a partial antigen

hema-, hemato-, hemo- blood hematocyst, a cyst containing blood hemi- half hemiglossal, pertaining to one-half of the tongue hepat- liver hepatitis, inflammation of the liver hetero- different or other heterosexuality, sexual desire, for a person

of the opposite sex hiat- gap the hiatus of the diaphragm, the opening through which

the esophagus passes

hippo- horse hippocampus of the brain, shaped like a seahorse hirsut- hairy hirsutism, excessive body hair hist- tissue histology, the study of tissues holo- whole holocrine glands, whose secretions are whole cells horn-, homo- same homeoplasia, formation of tissue similar to nor­mal tissue; homocentric, having the same center

hormon- to excite hormones

humor- a fluid humoral immunity, which involves antibodies circu­lating in the blood

hyal- clear hyaline cartilage, which has no visible fibers

hydr-, hydro- water dehydration, loss of body water

hyper- excess hypertension, excessive tension

hypno- sleep hypnosis, a sleeplike state

hypo- below, deficient hypodermic, beneath the skin; hypokalemia, deficiency of potassium

hyster-, hystero- uterus or womb hysterectomy, removal of the uterus; hysterodynia, pain in the womb

ile- intestine ileum, the last portion of the small intestine

itn- not impermeable, not permitting passage, not permeable

inter- between intercellular, between the cells

intercal- insert intercalated discs, the end membranes between ad­jacent cardiac muscle cells

intra- within, inside intracellular, inside the cell

iso- equal, same isothermal, equal, or same, temperature

jugul- throat jugular veins, prominent vessels in the neck

juxta- near, close to juxtaglomerular apparatus, a cell cluster next to the glomeruli in the kidneys

karyo- kernal nucleus karyotype, the assemblage of the nuclear chromosomes

kera- horn keratin, the water-repellent protein of the skin

kilo- thousand kilocalories, equal to one thousand calories

kin-, kines- move kinetic energy, the energy of motion

labi-, labri- lip labial frenulum, the membrane which joins the lip to the gum

lact- milk lactose, milk sugar

lacun- space, cavity, lake lacunae, the spaces occupied by cells of cartilage and bone tissue

latnell- small plate concentric lamellae, rings of bone matrix in compact bone

lamina layer, sheet basal lamina, part of the epithelial basement membrane

lat- wide latissimus dorsi, a broad muscle of the back

laten- hidden latent period of a muscle twitch

later- side lateral (directional term)

leuko- white leukocyte, white blood cell

leva- raise, elevate levator labii superioris, muscle that elevates up­per lip

lingua- tongue lingual tonsil, adjacent to the tongue

lip-, lipo- fat, lipid lipophage, a cell that has taken up fat in its cytoplasm

lith- stone cholelithiasis, gallstones

luci- clear stratum lucidum, clear layer of the epidermis

lumen light lumen, center of a hollow structure

lut- yellow corpus luteum, a yellow, hormone-secreting structure in the ovary

lymph water lymphatic circulation, return of clear fluid to the bloodstream

macro- large macromolecule, large molecule

macula spot macula lutea, yellow spot on the retina

magn- large foramen magnum, largest opening of the skull

mal- bad, abnormal malfunction, abnormal functioning of an organ

minim- breast mammary gland, breast

mast- breast mastectomy, removal of a mammary gland

mater mother dura mater, pia mater, membranes that envelop the brain

meat- passage external auditory meatus, the ear canal

medi- middle medial (directional term)

medull- marrow medulla, the middle portion of the kidney, adrenal gland, and lymph node

mega- large megakaryocyte, large precursor cell of platelets

meio- less meiosis, nuclear division that halves the chromosome number

melan- black melanocytes, which secrete the black pigment melanin

men-, menstru- month menses, the cyclic menstrual flow

meningo- membrane meningitis, inflammation of the membranes

of the brain mer-, mero-, apart merocrine glands, the secretions of which do not

include the cell

meso- middle mesoderm, middle germ layer meta- beyond, between, transition metatarsus, the part of the foot

between the tarsus and the phalanges

metro- uterus metroscope, instrument for examining the uterus micro- small microscope, an instrument used to make small objects

appear larger

mictur- urinate micturition, the act of voiding the bladder mito- thread, filament mitochondria, small, filamentlike structures

located in cells mnem- memory amnesia mono- single monospasm, spasm of a single limb morpho-   form   morphology, the study of form and structure or


multi- many multinuclear, having several nuclei mural wall intramural ganglion, a nerve junction within an organ muta- change mutation, change in the base sequence of DNA myelo- spinal cord, marrow myeloblasts, cells of the bone marrow myo- muscle myocardium, heart muscle nano- dwarf nanometer, one billionth of a meter narco-   numbness   narcotic, a drug producing stupor or numbed


natri- sodium atrial natriuretic factor, a sodium-regulating hormone necro- death necrosis, tissue death neo- new neoplasm, an abnormal growth nephro- kidney nephritis, inflammation of the kidney neuro- nerve neurophysiology, the physiology of the nervous system noci- harmful nociceptors, receptors for pain nom- name innominate artery; innominate bone noto-  back  notochord, the embryonic structure that precedes the

vertebral column

nucle- pit, kernel, little nut nucleus nutri- feed, nourish nutrition

ob- before, against obstruction, impeding or blocking up oculo- eye monocular, pertaining to one eye odonto- teeth orthodontist, one who specializes in proper position­ing of the teeth in relation to each other olfact- smell olfactory nerves

oligo- few oligodendrocytes, neuroglial cells with few branches onco- a mass oncology, study of cancer oo- egg ocyte, precursor of female gamete ophthalmo-  eye ophthalmology, the study of the eyes and related


orb- circular orbicularis oculi, muscle that encircles the eye orchi- testis cryptorchidism, failure of the testes to descend into the


org- living organism ortho-  straight, direct  orthopedic, correction of deformities of the

musculoskeletal system osm- smell anosmia, loss of sense of smell osmo- pushing osmosis

osteo- bone osteodermia, bony formations in the skin oto- ear otoscope, a device for examining the ear ov-, ovi- egg ovum, oviduct

oxy- oxygen oxygenation, the saturation of a substance with oxygen pan- all, universal panacea, a cure-all papill-  nipple  dermal papillae, projections of the dermis into the

epidermal area para-  beside, near paraphrenitis, inflammation of tissues adjacent

to the diaphragm

pect-, pectus breast pectoralis major, a large chest muscle pelv- a basin pelvic girdle, which cradles the pelvic organs peni- a tail penis,- penile urethra penna- a wing unipennate, bipennate muscles, whose fascicles have

a feathered appearance pent- five pentose, a 5-carbon sugar

pep-, peps-, pept- digest pepsin, a digestive enzyme of the stomach;

peptic ulcer

per-, perinea- through permeate; permeable peri- around perianal, situated around the anus phago- eat phagocyte, a cell that engulfs and digests particles or cells pheno- show, appear phenotype, the physical appearance of an in­dividual

phleb- vein phlebitis, inflammation of the veins pia tender pia mater, delicate inner membrane around the brain and

spinal cord pili  hair  arrector pili muscles of the skin, which make the hairs

stand erect

pin-, pino- drink pinocytosis, the process of a cell in small particles platy- flat, broad platysma, broad, flat muscle of the neck pleur- side, rib pleural serosa, the membrane that lines the thoracic

cavity and covers the lungs plex-, plexus net, network brachial plexus, the network of nerves

that supplies the arm

pneumo air, wind pneumothorax, air in the thoracic cavity pod- foot podiatry, the treatment of foot disorders poly- multiple polymorphism, multiple forms post- after, behind posterior, places behind (a specific) part pre-, pro- before, ahead of prenatal, before birth procto- rectum, anus proctoscope, an instrument for examining the


pron- bent forward prone; pronate propri-   one's own   proprioception, awareness of body parts and


pseudo- false pseudotumor, a false tumor psycho- mind, psyche psychogram, a chart of personality traits ptos- fall renal ptosis, a condition in which the kidneys drift below

their normal position pub- ofthepubis puberty

pulmo- lung pulmonary artery, which brings blood to the lungs pyo- pus pyocyst, a cyst that contains pus pyro- fire pyrogen, a substance that induces fever quad-, quadr-   four-sided   quadratus lumborum, a muscle with a

square shape re- back, again reinfect rect- straight rectus abdominis, rectum ren- kidney renal, renin, an enzyme secreted by the kidney retin, retic-   net, network   endoplasmic reticulum, a network of

membranous sacs within a cell retro-    backward, behind    retrogression, to move backward in

development rheum-     watery flow,  change,  or flux     rheumatoid  arthritis,

rheumatic fever

rhin-, rhino- nose rhinitis, inflammation of the nose ruga- fold, wrinkle rugae, the folds of the stomach, gallbladder, and

urinary bladder

sagitt- arrow sagittal (directional term) salta- leap saltatory conduction, the rapid conduction of impulses

along myelinated neurons sanguin- blood consanguineous, indicative of a genetic relationship

between individuals

sarco- flesh sarcomere, unit of contraction in skeletal muscle saphen- visible, clear great saphenous vein, superficial vein of the

thigh and leg

sclero- hard sclerodermatitis, inflammatory thickening and harden­ing of the skin

seb- grease sebum, the oil of the skin semen seed, sperm  semen, the discharge of the male reproductive


semi- half semicircular, having the form of half a circle sens- feeling sensation; sensory septi- rotten sepsis, infection,- antiseptic septum fence nasal septum sero- serum serological tests, which assess blood conditions

serrat- saw serratus anterior, a muscle of the chest wall that has a jagged edge

sin-, sino- a hollow sinuses of the skull

soma- body somatic nervous system

somnus sleep insomnia, inability to sleep

sphin- squeeze sphincter

splanchn- organ splanchnic nerve, autonomic supply to abdominal viscera

spondyl- vertebra ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis af­fecting the spine

squam- scale, flat squamous epithelium, squamous suture of the skull

steno- narrow stenocoriasis, narrowing of the pupil

strat- layer strata of the epidermis, stratified epithelium

stria- furrow, streak striations of skeletal and cardiac muscle tissue

stroma spread out strome, the connective tissue framework of some organs

sub- beneath, under sublingual, beneath the tongue

sucr- sweet sucrose, table sugar

sudor- sweat sudoriferous glands, the sweat glands

super- above, upon superior, quality or state of being above others or apart

supra- above, upon supracondylar, above a condyle

sym-, syn- together, with synapse, the region of communication be­tween two neurons

synerg- work together synergism

systol- contraction systole, contraction of the heart

tachy- rapid tachycardia, abnormally rapid heartbeat

tact- touch tactile sense

telo- the end telophase, the end of mitosis

tempi-, tempo- time temporal summation of nerve impulses

tens- stretched muscle tension

tertius third peroneus tertius, one of three peroneus muscles

tetan- rigid, tense tetanus of muscles

therm- heat thermometer, an instrument used to measure heat

thromb- clot thrombocyte; thrombus

thyro- a shield thyroid gland

tissu- woven tissue

tono- tension tonicity; hypertonic

tox- poison antitoxic, effective against poison

trab- beam, timber trabeculae, spicules of bone in spongy bone tissue

trans- across, through transpleural, through the pleura

trapez- table trapezius, the four-sided muscle of the upper back

tri- three trifurcation, division into three branches

trop- turn, change tropic hormones, whose targets are endocrine glands

troph- nourish trophoblast, from which develops the fetal portion of the placenta

tuber- swelling tuberosity, a bump on a bone

tunic- covering tunica albuginea, the covering of the testis

tympan- drum tympanic membrane, the eardrum

ultra- beyond ultraviolet radiation, beyond the band of visible light

vacc- cow vaccine

vagin- a sheath vagina

vagus wanderer the vagus nerve, which starts at the brain and trav­els into the abdominopeMc cavity

valen- strength valence shells of atoms

venter, ventr- hollow cavity, belly ventral (directional term); ventricle

ventus the wind pulmonary ventilation

vert- turn vertebral column

vestibul- a porch vestibule, the anterior entryway to the mouth and nose

vibr- shake, quiver vibrissae, hairs of the nasal vestibule

villus shaggy hair microvilli, which have the appearance of hair in light microscopy

viscero- organ, viscera visceroinhibitory, inhibiting the movements of the viscera

viscos- sticky viscosity; resistance to flow

vita- life vitamin

vitre- glass vitreous humor, the clear jelly of the eye

viv- live in vivo

vulv- a covering vulva, the female external genitalia

zyg- a yoke, twin zygote



-able able to, capable of viable, ability to live or exist

-ac referring to cardiac, referring to the heart

-algia pain in a certain part neuralgia, pain along the course of a nerve

-apsi juncture synapse, where two neurons connect

-ary associated with, relating to coronary, associated with the heart

-asthen weakness myasthenia gravis, a disease involving paralysis

-atomos indivisible anatomy, which involves dissection

-bryo swollen embryo

-cide destroy or kill germicide, an agent that kills germs

-cipit head occipital

-clast break osteoclast, a cell that dissolves bone matrix

-crine separate endocrine organs, which secrete hormones into the blood

-dips thirst, dry polydipsia, excessive thirst associated with diabetes

-ectomy cutting out, surgical removal appendectomy, cutting out of the appendix

-ell, -elle small organelle

-emia condition of the blood anemia, deficiency of red blood cells

-esthesi sensation anesthesia, lack of sensation

-ferent carry efferent nerves, nerves carrying impulses away from the.CNS

-form, -forma shape cribriform plate of the ethmoid bone

-fuge driving out vermifuge, a substance that expels worms of the intestine

-gen an agent that initiates pathogen, any agent that produces disease

-glea, -glia glue neuroglia, the connective tissue of the nervous system

-gram data that are systematically recorded, a record electrocardio­gram, a recording showing action of the heart

-graph an instrument used for recording data or writing electrocar­diograph, an instrument used to make an electrocardiogram

-ia condition insomnia, condition of not being able to sleep

-iatrics medical specialty geriatrics, the branch of medicine dealing with disease associated with old age

-ism condition hyperthyroidism

-itis inflammation gastritis, inflammation of the stomach

-lemma sheath, husk sarcolemma, the plasma membrane of a mus­cle cell

-logy the study of pathology, the study of changes in structure and function brought on by disease

-lysis loosening or breaking down hydrolysis, chemical decomposi­tion of a compound into other compounds as a result of taking up water

-malacia soft osteomalacia, a process leading to bone softening

-mania obsession, compulsion erotomania, exaggeration of the sex­ual passions

-nata birth prenatal development

-nom govern autonomic nervous system

-odyn pain coccygodynia, pain in the region of the coccyx

-oid hke, resembling cuboid, shaped as a cube

-oma tumor lymphoma, a tumor of the lymphatic tissues

-opia defect of the eye myopia, nearsightedness

-ory referring to, of auditory, referring to hearing

-pathy disease osteopathy, any disease of the bone

-phasia speech aphasia, lack of ability to speak

-phil, -philo like, love hydrophilic, water-attracting molecules

-phobia fear acrophobia, fear of heights

-phragm partition diaphragm, which separates the thoracic and ab­dominal cavities

-phylax guard, preserve anaphylaxis, prophylactic

-plas grow neoplasia, an abnormal growth

-plasm form, shape cytoplasm

-plasty reconstruction of a part, plastic surgery rhinoplasty, recon­struction of the nose through surgery

-plegia paralysis paraplegia, paralysis of the lower half of the body or limbs

-rrhagia abnormal or excessive discharge metrorrhagia, uterine hemorrhage

-rrhea flow or discharge diarrhea, abnormal emptying of the bowels

-scope instrument used for examination stethoscope, instrument used to listen to sounds of parts of the body

-some body chromosome

-sorb suck in absorb

-stalsis compression peristalsis, muscular contractions that propel food along the digestive tract

-stasis arrest, fixation hemostasis, arrest of bleeding

-stitia come to stand interstitial fluid, between the cells

-stomy establishment of an artificial opening enterostomy, the for­mation of an artificial opening into the intestine through the ab­dominal wall

-tegm cover integument

-tomy to cut appendectomy, surgical removal of the appendix

-trud thrust protrude, detrusor muscle

-ty condition of, state immunity, condition of being resistant to in­fection or disease

-uria urine polyuria, passage of an excessive amount of urine

-zyme ferment enzyme