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Medical terminology is composed of a prefix, root word, and suffix:
Prefix: A prefix is placed at the beginning of a word to modify or change its meaning. Pre means "before." Prefixes may also indicate a location, number, or time.
Root: central part of a word.
Suffix: The ending part of a word that modifies the meaning of the word.
Additional resources:   [Intro to med terms] [Med terms rules] [Med term reference] [Word building reference]  [Practice Exams]

Alphabetical Listing (word building)

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 Reference

Use this reference to see how common medical terms are created using the various prefixes, suffixes, and root words.

idiopathic

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: idi/o
1st Root Definition: unknown; individual; distinct
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -ic
Suffix Definition: pertaining to
Definition: pertaining to of unknown cause

ileocecal valve

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: ile/o
1st Root Definition: ileum
2nd Root Word: cec/o
2nd Root Word Definition: cecum (first part of the colon)
Suffix: -al
Suffix Definition: pertaining to
Definition: pertaining to the valve between the ileum of the small intestine
and the cecum of the large intestine

interarticular

Prefix: inter-
Prefix Definition: between
1st Root Word: articul/o
1st Root Definition: joint
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -ar
Suffix Definition: pertaining to
Definition: between joints

intercostal

Prefix: inter-
Prefix Definition: between
1st Root Word: cost/o
1st Root Definition: rib
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -al
Suffix Definition: pertaining to
Definition: pertaining to between the ribs

intravenous

Prefix: intra-
Prefix Definition: within; into
1st Root Word: ven/o
1st Root Definition: vein
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -ous
Suffix Definition: pertaining to
Definition: present; taking place within; administered into a vein(s)

ipsilateral

Prefix: ipsi-
Prefix Definition: same
1st Root Word: later/o
1st Root Definition: side
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -al
Suffix Definition: pertaining to
Definition: belonging to; occurring on the same side of the body

iridectomy

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: irid/o
1st Root Definition: iris (colored portion of the eye)
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -ectomy
Suffix Definition: removal; excision; resection
Definition: surgical removal of part of the iris

ischemia

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: isch/o
1st Root Definition: to hold back; back
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -emia
Suffix Definition: blood condition
Definition: insufficient blood supply to an organ or part of the body

ischioanal

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: ischi/o
1st Root Definition: ischium (part of hip bone)
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -al
Suffix Definition: pertaining to
Definition: pertaining to the ischium

isotonic

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: is/o
1st Root Definition: same; equal
2nd Root Word: ton/o
2nd Root Word Definition: tension
Suffix: -ic
Suffix Definition: pertaining to
Definition: pertaining to having equal tension

isotropic

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: is/o
1st Root Definition: same; equal
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -tropic
Suffix Definition: turning; changing
Definition: equal values when measured in all directions

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