GlobalRPh Medical Terminology Section

Prefixes and Suffixes Medical Terminology

Common Prefixes  


a-

without, not, no

apnea (without breathing)

 

ab-

from, away from

aberrant (wandering away from)

ad-

toward, increase

adduct (movement toward the midline of the body)

 

alb-

white

albino (person who has a marked deficiency of pigment in the eyes, hair, and skin; has abnormally white skin)

 

albin/o

white

albinism (condition of abnormally white skin; characterized by absence of pigment in the skin, hair, and eyes)

 

ambi-

both, both sides

ambidextrous (able to use both hands well)

 

an-

without, not, no

anesthesia (without feeling) ante- before, in front antecubital (“the space” in front of the elbow)

 

anti-

against

antidote (a drug or other substance that opposes [works against] the action of a poison)

 

auto-

self

autograft (a graft transferred from one part of a patient’s body to another)

 

bi-

two, double bicuspid (having two cusps or points)

 

bio-

life

biology (the study of life)

 

brady-

slow

bradycardia (slow heartbeat)

 

chlor/o

green

chlorophyll (green pigment in plants that accomplishes photosynthesis)

 

circum-

around

circumduction (movement around in a circle)

 

cirrh/o

yellow, tawny

cirrhosis (chronic degenerative liver disease with resultant yellowness of the liver and skin)

 

con-

together, with

congenital (born with)

 

contra-

against

contraindication (against what is indicated)

 

cyan/o

blue

cyanoderma (slightly bluish, grayish, slatelike, or dark discoloration of the skin)

 

de-

down, from

descend (to come down from)

 

dia-

through

diagnosis (knowledge through testing)

 

dis-

free of, to undo

dislocation (the displacement [undoing] of any part of the body from its normal position)

 

dys-

bad, difficult, painful, disordered

dyspnea (difficult breathing)

 

ecto-

outside

ectopic (outside its normal location—as in an ectopic pregnancy, which occurs in the fallopian tubes instead of the uterus)

 

endo-

within, inner

endoscope (instrument used to look inside the body)

 

eosin/o

red, rosy

eosinophil (bilobed leukocyte that stains a red, rosy color with an acid dye)

 

epi-

upon, over

epigastric (pertaining to the region over the stomach)

 

erythr/o

red

erythrocyte (mature red blood cell)

 

eu-

well, easily, good, normal

eupnea (normal breathing)

 

ex-

out, away from, outside

exhale (to breathe out)

 

exo-

outside, outward

exogenous (originating outside the body)

 

extra-

outside, beyond

extrahepatic (outside of the liver)

 

glauc/o

gray, silver

glaucoma (disorder of the eye due to increased intraocular pressure; creates a dull gray gleam of the affected eye)

 

hemi-

half

hemiplegia (paralysis of one side [half] of the body)

 

hetero-

different

heterogeneous (composed of different or unlike substances)

 

homeo-

likeness, same

homeostasis (a relative constancy [likeness] in the internal environment of the body)

 

homo-

same

homogenesis (having the same origins) hydro- water hydrocephalus (an abnormal accumulation of fluid [water] within the head)

 

hyp-

under, below, beneath, less than normal

hypoxemia (less than normal blood oxygen level)

 

hyper-

excessive

hyperemesis (excessive vomiting)

 

hypo-

under, below, beneath, less than normal

hypoglycemia (less than normal blood sugar; low blood sugar level)

 

idio-

individual

idiosyncrasy (an individual sensitivity to effects of a drug caused by inherited or other bodily constitution factors)

 

im-

not

impotence (an adult male’s inability [not able] to achieve penile erection)

 

in-

in, inside, within, not

incompetent (not capable) inborn (acquired during intrauterine life)

 

infra-

beneath, below, under

infraorbital (beneath the bony cavity in which the eyeball is located) inter- between intercostal (between the ribs)

 

intra-

within

intravenous (within a vein)

 

jaund/o

yellow

jaundice (yellow discoloration of the skin)

 

juxta-

near, beside

juxtaarticular (pertaining to a location near a joint

 

 

leuk/o

white

leukoplakia (white, hard, thickened patches firmly attached to the mucous membrane in areas such as the mouth, vulva, or penis)

 

melan/o

black

melanoma (a darkly pigmented cancerous tumor)

 

meso-

middle

mesoderm (the middle of the three layers of the skin)

 

meta-

beyond, after

metacarpals (pertaining to the bones after the carpal [wrist] bones; i.e., the hand bones)

 

milli-

one-thousandth

milliliter (one-thousandth of a liter)

 

mono-

one

monocyte (a white cell with a singular nucleus)

 

multi-

many

multipara (to bear many “children”)

 

non-

not

noninvasive (pertaining to a diagnostic or therapeutic technique that does not require the skin to be broken [not invaded] or a cavity or organ to be entered)

 

pan-

all

pancarditis (inflammation of the entire heart [all])

 

para-

near, beside, beyond, two like parts

paracervical (near, or beside, the cervix)

 

per-

through

percussion (striking through)

 

peri-

around

perianal (around the anus)

 

poli/o

gray

poliomyelitis (inflammation of the gray matter of the spinal cord)

 

poly-

many, much, excessive

polyarthritis (inflammation of many joints) polyuria (the excretion of large amounts of [much] urine)

 

post-

after, behind

postcibal (after meals) pre- before, in front precordial (the region “of the chest wall” in front of the heart)

 

primi-

first

primigravida (first pregnancy)

 

pseudo-

false

pseudoanorexia (“false anorexia”; a condition in which individual eats secretly while claiming a lack of appetite and inability to eat)

 

purpur/

purple

purpura (collection of blood beneath the skin in the form of pinpoint hemorrhages appearing as red/purple skin discolorations)

 

quadri-

four

quadriplegia (paralysis of all four extremities)

 

re-

back, again

reactivate (to make active again)

 

retro-

backward, behind

retrocecal (pertaining to the region behind the cecum)

 

rube-

red

rubella (a contagious viral disease characterized by fever, coldlike symptoms, and a diffuse, fine red rash [also German measles])

 

semi

half

semiconscious (half conscious)common prefixes

 

sub

under, below

subcutaneous (under the skin)

 

supra

above, over

suprapubic (above, or over, the pubic area)

 

sym-

joined, together

sympathetic (displaying compassion for another’s grief; literally, “joined in disease”)

 

syn-

joined, together

syndrome (a group of symptoms joined by a common cause; “running together”)

 

tachy-

rapid

tachycardia (rapid heartbeat)

 

trans-

across, through

transurethral (across, or through, the urethra)

 

tri-

three

triceps (“a muscle” having three heads)

 

ultra-

beyond, excess

ultrasound (sound waves at the very high frequency of more than 20,000 vibrations per second)

 

uni-

one

uninuclear (“a cell” having one nucleus)

 

xanth/o

yellow

xanthoderma (any yellow coloration of the skin)


 

Increasing your understanding of medical terminology

Word Building Reference– This resource strengthens your understanding of medical terminology. See how common medical terms are created using the various prefixes, suffixes, and root words.

a b c d e f g h i j k l m
n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Medical Terminology Intuitive Section Common Prefixes in Medical Terminology
This section was developed for ‘speed learning’ of medical terminology.

a b c1 c2 d e f g h i j k l
m n o p q r s t u v w x y

Additional references:

Prefixes denoting numbers
Prefixes denoting position and/or direction
Prefixes denoting measurement
Medical Terminology Noun Suffixes
Combining forms for color
Common Prefixes
Adjective Suffixes
Specialties and specialists med terms
Instruments, surgical, and diagnostic procedures
Negative prefixes
Common suffixes


Quick Introduction– provides an overview and introduction to medical terminology.
Medical Terms – rules governing singular versus plural versions of medical terms are described.