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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 of Med Terms

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Med terms H- medical roots, prefixes-suffixes

GlobalRPh Medical Terminology Section- Letter H

Prefixes and Suffixes Medical Terminology beginning with H

Medical terminology is used to precisely describe the human body components, processes, illnesses, medical procedures, and pharmacology. Medical terms are used in the field of medicine, and clinical settings. This section deals with all med terms beginning with the letter H, and features medical roots, prefixes and suffixes. Introduction to Medical Terminology.

Medical Terminology - Letter H 

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demi, hemi, semi




simple, single




































entire, complete

home/o  (homeo-)

sameness; unchanging; constant














under, below, beneath, less than normal


above; excessive




deficient; below; under; less than normal


pituitary gland






uterus; womb


Med Terms beginning with the letter H 



Haemophilus influenzae type b conjugate vaccine (Hib)- A conjugate vaccine administered to immunize children against infection by the bacteria Haemophilus influenzae type b; the first dose is given at 2 months of age.

Hair-Keratinous filament growing out of the epidermis and consists of 1) hair follicle, a tiny tube or sac that anchors each hair 2) hair root, a portion of hair embedded in the hair follicle, and 3) hair shaft, the non-growing visible part of the hair.

Hairline fracture - Hairline fracture also referred to as a stress fracture, is due to repeated low force trauma that eventually breaks the bone.

Half-life- The time required for a
radioactive substance to lose half of its activity through decay.  The
biological half-life of a drug indicates the time required to metabolize and
eliminate half of the dose from the circulation.

Hallucination- Abnormal perception of
objects or events that seem real but are not. Auditory and visual
hallucinations are the most prevalent symptoms of schizophrenia.

Hallucinogens- Substances that cause an
alteration in perception, thought, or mood of a person; drugs that cause

Hallux valgus- Hallux valgus, also
known as Bunion, is a condition in which the big toe (hallux) has a lateral
deviation of more than 10 to 15 degrees.

Hamstring muscle- The hamstrings are a
group of three muscles - biceps femoris, semimembranosus, and semitendinosus
responsible - located at the back of the thigh and are responsible for knee

Hard palate- The horizontal bony plate
of the roof of the mouth, and is important for feeding and speech.

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis- Hashimoto
thyroiditis, also known as Hashimoto's disease, is an autoimmune disease
involving inflammation and progressive thyroid dysfunction.

Haversian canals- The Haversian canal
contains small blood vessels responsible for the blood supply to osteocytes
(individual bone cells).

Head circumference- The measurement
of an infant's head around its greatest circumference; used as an early
diagnostic measure of microcephaly (very small head size) and hydrocephalus
(fluid accumulation in the brain).

Headache- Diffuse pain in the head,
scalp, or neck. Common headaches include tension headache, migraine, and
cluster headache.

Hearing aids- Wearable electronic
devices that process and amplify the sound based on an individual's hearing
configuration, thus allowing for improved communication. They are usually
placed in or behind the ear.

Heart- A four-chambered muscular organ
that pumps blood around the body by repeated, rhythmic contractions. It is
located in the middle mediastinum, wrapped in a sac of serous membrane
called the pericardium.

Heart block (AV)- A delay or
interruption in the transmission of an electrical signal as it moves from
the atria to the ventricles. Also called an atrioventricular block (AV
block), heart block is caused by an anatomical or functional impairment in
the cardiac conduction system.

Heart diseases, congenital- Congenital
heart disease (CHD) refers to a group of structural and functional
abnormalities that develop in utero during cardiovascular development and
are present at birth. Examples include atrial septal defect (ASD),
ventricular septal defect (VSD), pulmonary (valvular) stenosis, aortic
stenosis, and coarctation of the aorta.

Heel puncture- Heel puncture, or
heel-stick test, a method of drawing capillary blood from a newborn by
pricking the plantar surface of the heel using a lancet. Heel stick samples
are used to look for rare medical conditions including phenylketonuria
(PKU), Maple syrup urine disease (MSUD), Cystic fibrosis (CF), and Sickle
cell anemia.

Hegar’s sign- Softening of the cervical
isthmus, the lower part of the uterus. Hegar’s sign is an indication of
pregnancy present from 4 to 6 weeks of pregnancy until the 12th week.

Helicobacter pylori- A gram-negative
bacterium that causes gastritis, peptic ulcers, and even gastric cancer.

HELLP syndrome- An obstetric
complication characterized by hemolysis, elevated liver enzyme levels, and
low platelet count. HELLP (H = Haemolysis, EL = Elevated Liver enzymes, LP =
Low Platelets).


Denoting blood

Word building examples:

hemat/o = blood
-logy = the study of

hemat/o = blood
-uria = urine condition

subungual hematoma
sub= beneath, under, below
ungu/o= nail
hemat/o= blood
-oma= tumor

hemat/o = blood
-poiesis = formation of

hemat/o = blood
-logist = one who specializes in
the study of


Hematocrit (Hct)-A simple blood test. Also known as a packed-cell volume (PCV) test, the HCT is the proportion of RBC by volume in the total blood volume.

Hematologist-A hematology specialist

Hematology- A diverse medical discipline concerned with the nature, function, and pathophysiology of blood and blood-forming organs.

Hematoma- Localized accumulation of blood outside of a blood vessel; mostly seen in or near a recent surgical incision, and sometimes deep inside the body.

Epidural hematoma (EDH) - accumulation of blood between the skull and dura mater.

Subdural hematoma - accumulation of blood in the subdural space, a potential space situated between the arachnoid and the dura.

Hematopoiesis- The process of formation, development, and differentiation of blood cells from hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs).

Hematuria- Blood in the urine; hematuria can be from an injury to the genitourinary system or renal diseases.



An iron-centered porphyrin and the prosthetic group in many proteins including hemoglobin. Heme's affinity toward oxygen makes hemoglobin an oxygen transporter.


Denoting 'half'

Hemianopia - Partial blindness or vision loss in half of the visual field. It’s caused by stroke or brain damage, rather than a problem with the eyes.

Hemiparesis- Mild weakness on one side of the body caused by stroke, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and trauma or tumor in brain, spine, or meninges.

hemi- = half
-paresis = partial paralysis

Hemiplegia- Trauma-induced paralysis of one side of the body.

hemi- = half
-plegia = paralysis


Denoting blood.

hem/o= blood
angi/o = vessel
-oma= tumor

Hemoccult test- A home test for occult (hidden) blood in the stool; used to diagnose colorectal cancer.

Hemochromatosis- An iron overload disorder, characterized by iron deposits throughout the body. The two forms of hemochromatosis are i) Primary hemochromatosis, also known as hereditary hemochromatosis, resulting from genetic factors and ii) secondary hemochromatosis, resulting from erythropoietic hemochromatosis, alcohol abuse, too much vitamin C or iron supplement consumption, and frequent blood transfusions.

Hemocytoblasts- Pluripotent hemopoietic stem cell

Hemodialysis- The process of circulating the entire blood outside the body into a dialyzer for filtering the toxins and excess fluids and returning clean blood to the body.

hem/o = blood
dia- = through
-lysis = breakdown or destruction

Hemodialyzer- The machine that removes salt, water, and waste products from the blood during hemodialysis.

Hemoglobin A1C Test (HgbA1C)- A simple blood test that measures average blood glucose levels over the past three months.

Hemoglobin- The iron-containing pigment and predominant protein in the red blood cells (RBC) that carries oxygen to tissues.

Hemoglobin test- The hemoglobin (Hgb) test measures the amount of hemoglobin in the peripheral blood; often used to screen several conditions associated with both abnormally high hemoglobin levels (anemia, kidney or liver disease) and low hemoglobin levels (dehydration, chronic lung disease, or heart failure)

Hemolysate- The product of hemolysis.

Hemolysis- Breakdown of red blood cells and the release of hemoglobin into the circulation at the end of their normal life span of 120 days. In certain medical conditions (hepatitis, enlarged spleen, HEELP syndrome, and lymphoma) lysis occurs before their life span is up

Hemolytic- Denoting hemolysis

Hemolytic disease of the newborn (HDN)- Hemolytic disease of the newborn (HDN), also called erythroblastosis fetalis, is a condition of maternal-fetal blood incompatibility, characterized by hemolysis in the fetus.

Hemophilia- An inherited bleeding disorder in which the blood doesn't clot normally and leads to spontaneous or excessive bleeding; caused by faulty or missing clotting factors VIII (8) or IX (9).

hem/o = blood
phil/o = attraction to
-ia = condition

Hemopoiesis- Formation of blood cells in the bone marrow, liver, and spleen.

Hemoptysis- Expectoration of blood, alone or mixed with mucus from the respiratory tract; commonly caused by bronchitis, lung cancer, pneumonia, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

hem/o = blood
-ptysis = spitting

Hemorrhage- Acute loss of blood from a ruptured or damaged blood vessel.

hem/o = blood
-rrhage = excessive flow or discharge

Hemorrhoids- Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, are permanently distended veins in and around the anus and rectum. Most pregnant women get them in the third trimester.

Hemostasis- A complex series of physiological and biochemical events - vasoconstriction, obstruction, coagulation, or ligation - that arrest bleeding.

hem/o = blood
-stasis = stopping or controlling

Heparin- A natural, injectable anticoagulant synthesized by the liver as well as basophils and mast cells; heparin is also produced in vitro from porcine intestinal tissue as heparin sodium.


Denoting liver


Hepatic duct- A large tube that carries bile from the liver and the gallbladder through the pancreas and into the duodenum.

Hepatic flexure- Hepatic flexure, also called the right colic flexure, the bend at the junction of the traverse colon.

Hepatitis A virus (HAV)- A picornavirus causing Hepatitis A.

Hepatitis B virus (HBV)- A small DNA virus of the Hepadnaviridae family, genus Hepadnavirus, and causes hepatitis B.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV)- A spherical enveloped single-stranded RNA virus that causes hepatitis C.

Hepatitis- Acute or chronic inflammation of the liver that results from various causes, both infectious (pathogens) and non-infectious (alcohol, autoimmune or metabolic disorders).

Hepatocyte- Highly differentiated parenchymal cells in the liver, play pivotal roles in metabolism, detoxification, and protein synthesis.

Hepatomegaly- An enlarged liver, generally greater than 15.5 - 16 cm in the midclavicular line (MCL); a sign that hepatic cells aren't functioning properly.

Hepatorrhaphy- Suturing a hepatic wound.

Hernia- An abnormal protrusion of organs from one anatomic space to another through a break or tear in the muscle or tissue that holds it in place.

Herniated- Tissue or organ protrusion through an opening.

Herniated disk, Herniated nucleus pulposus (HNP)- The displacement of some or all of the nucleus pulposus (soft, jelly-like center of the intervertebral disc) to leak into the spinal canal. It is a common cause of back pain.

Herniorrhaphy- A surgical procedure to fix a hernia by making an incision in the groin, pushing back the hernia back into place, and tie it off with stitches.

Herpes simplex virus- A double-stranded DNA virus of the Herpesviridae family responsible for small, painful, blisters on the skin, mouth, lips, eyes, and genitals.

Herpes zoster- A localized, blistering, and painful rash caused by reactivation of varicella-zoster virus from cranial nerve ganglia where it remained latent since the first episode of varicella (chicken-pox); also known as shingles.

Herpetic stomatitis- A sore or inflammation inside the oral cavity caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1.


Denoting different.


Hiatal hernia- Protrusion of stomach into the thorax through the esophageal hiatus into the chest; caused by a weakness or opening in the diaphragm.


Denoting sweat, sweat glands

Hidrosis- Sweating in excess.


Hilum- A notch or opening through which the blood vessels, nerves or ducts leave and enter.

Hinge joint- The hinge, or ginglymus, a type of synovial joint that permits movement in one direction

Hip fracture- Breaks in the proximal femur; commonly seen in elderly adults following a fall.

Hirschsprung’s disease- Congenital absence of ganglions in the distal colon, resulting in colon obstruction; also known as congenital aganglionic megacolon.

Hirsutism- The presence of excessive body hair in females in a male-like distribution.



Denoting tissue.


Histamine- A low molecular weight amine released from activated mast cells in an allergic response; also found in many tissues including the skin, gastric mucosa, and nerve endings in the brain.

Histiocyte- Tissue macrophage; derived from monocytes and take part in phagocytosis and antigen presentation.

Histologist- A histology specialist

hist/o = tissue
-logist = one who specializes

Histology- The study of cells and tissues, from their components to their organization into organs.

Hives- A sudden outbreak of red, itchy, slightly elevated welts on the sin; also known as urticaria.

Hodgkin’s disease- A type of lymphoma that originates in lymphocytes and spread beyond the lymphatic system; usually manifested as enlarged lymph nodes, typically in the cervical, axillary, and mediastinal areas.

Holter monitoring- A diagnostic tool for ambulatory monitoring; consists of a portable tape recorder attached to cutaneous electrodes on the chest wall and continuously records the patient's ECG for 24 hours.

Homan’s sign- A diagnostic indicator of deep venous thrombosis of the leg. Positive signs include calf or thigh pain, tenderness, increased skin temperature, swelling, or superficial venous dilatation in the leg.


Prefix denoting 'alike', 'same', 'similar'

Homeostasis- The capacity of the body to maintain the internal environment in a state of relative constancy


Denoting 'alike', 'same', 'similar'


Hordeolum- An acute bacterial infection of the glands of Zeis or the meibomian glands, causing redness, nodular swelling, and pain in the eyelid margin.

Hormone antagonist- A chemical substance that acts against and suppresses the action of endocrine glands.

Hormones- Chemical substances produced in the body that controls and regulates the physiological activity of certain cells or organs.

Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) - The pregnancy hormone, produced by placental trophoblasts.

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)- A retrovirus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Human papillomavirus (HPV)- A DNA virus from the Papillomaviridae family responsible for a sexually transmitted infection that shares the same name.

Humeral, Humer/o

Denoting humerus

Humerus- The longest and largest bone of the upper arm.

Humoral immune response- Antibody-mediated immune response driven by B lymphocytes.


Huntington’s chorea- Huntington's chorea, also known as Huntington’s disease (HD), is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by involuntary jerking or twitching movements known as chorea, behavioral changes, and dementia. HD is caused by an inherited defective gene on chromosome 4.

Hydatidiform mole- The proliferation of placental tissue into a mass of fluid-filled cysts resembling a bunch of grapes. Also called molar pregnancy, hydatidiform mole occurs due to faulty fertilization.

Hydr/o Hydro-

Denoting water, fluid.

Hydrocele- Accumulation of serous fluid within the tunica vaginalis, the lining of the scrotal sac, and the tunica albuginea, which covers the testis.

Hydrocephalus- Accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the ventricles of the brain, causing the head to swell.

Hydrochloric acid- An aqueous solution of hydrogen chloride gas. Parietal cells in the stomach produce hydrochloric acid to help digest food.

Hydrocortisone - Hydrocortisone, or cortisol, is a glucocorticoid secreted by the adrenal cortex; used in over-the-counter medicines to relieve allergies and inflammations.

Hydronephrosis- Pooling of urine in the renal pelvis due to an obstruction in the ureter; affects one or both kidneys.

Hydrostatic pressure- The pressure exerted by a fluid, without any external forces such as pressure losses or surges.


Hymen- A thin layer of mucous membrane, partially closing the vaginal orifice.

Hyoid bone- A U-shaped suspended just beneath the mandible and serves as a structural anchor for muscles of the tongue and throat. Hyoid bone has no articulation with other bones.

Hyp- Hyper-

Prefix denoting high. excessive, above normal, as in hyperalbuminemia (high blood albumin).

Hyperalbuminemia- Increased serum albumin level.

Hyperbilirubinemia- Hyperbilirubinemia is an excess accumulation of bilirubin in the blood; another term for jaundice.

Hypercalcemia- Elevated blood calcium level greater than 10.5mg/dL; a consequence of hyperparathyroidism, cancers, dehydration, or diuretics.

Hypercapnia- Hypercapnia, or hypercarbia, is elevated levels of CO2 in the blood; PaCO2 greater than 45 mm Hg.

Hyperemesis- Excessive vomiting

Hyperemesis gravidarum- Severe and persistent vomiting during pregnancy that results in ketosis, weight loss, and dehydration.

Hyperesthesia- Heightened sensitivity to sensory stimuli.

Hyperglycemia- High blood glucose level greater than 125 mg/dL; a defining characteristic of diabetes mellitus types 1 & 2.

Hypergonadism- Hyperfunction of the gonads, resulting in higher-than-normal levels of estrogen and testosterone in the blood.

Hyperinsulinism- Excessive secretion of insulin by pancreatic beta cells; typically caused by insulin resistance.

Hyperkalemia (high-per-kal-EE-meeah),- High potassium levels in the blood, usually greater than 5.0 mEq/L to 5.5 mEq/L.

Hyperkeratosis- Overgrowth or thickening of the stratum corneum, the outermost epidermal layer. Some types of hyperkeratosis are congenital and some others may be early signs of skin cancer.

Hyperkinesis- Involuntary, continual, irregular muscular movements or physical activity.

Hyperlipidemia - An elevated level of fats in the circulation, caused by lipoprotein lipase deficiency or any defect in LDL to HDL conversion.

Hypernatremia- High blood sodium; NaCl level greater than 145 mEq/L.

Hyperopia- Hyperopia, or farsightedness, a refractive error in which parallel rays of light focus at a point behind the retina, making close objects appear blurry, and distant objects remain clear.

Hyperparathyroidism- Hyperfunction of parathyroid glands, which increase the secretion of parathyroid hormones.

Hyperpigmentation- Localized dark patches on the skin due to overproduction of melanin.

Hyperpituitarism- Hyperfunction of the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland, which increases the production of growth hormone.

Hyperplasia- An increase in the number of cells in a tissue or organ. It is not cancer but may become cancer.

hyper- excessive
-plasia formation, growth

Hypersensitivity- Immunological response to antigens, allergens, pathogens, or medications; forms the basis of many diseases.

Hypersplenism- A functional abnormality characterized by splenomegaly (an enlarged spleen) and deficiency of blood cells.

Hypertension- High blood pressure exceeding 140/90mmHg.

Hypertensive heart disease- Hypertensive heart disease (HHD) refers to heart conditions that result from long-term hypertension. HHD is characterized by left ventricular hypertrophy, an abnormal thickening of the muscular wall of the left ventricle.

Hyperthyroidism- An endocrine disorder resulting from excessive thyroid hormone production by a hyperplastic thyroid gland.

Hypertrophy- Increase in the size of cells, tissues, or organs in response to various stimuli. For example, muscular hypertrophy in response to weight training.

Hyphema- A hemorrhage in the anterior chamber of the eye, most often resulting from trauma. Bleeding may also occur spontaneously in conditions such as rubeosis iridis, leukemia, hemophilia, anticoagulation therapy, or retinoblastoma.

Hypno- Hypn/o

Denoting sleep, hypnosis

Hypnosis- A guided altered state of consciousness resembling normal sleep but with heightened suggestibility and focused attention.

Hypnotic- Any agent or drug intended to induce sedation, sleep or dull the senses.

Hypnotize- To induce a trance-like mental state in one's self or another person.


Prefix denoting under, beneath, below

Hypocalcemia- Low serum calcium level, usually a consequence of poor calcium intake, vitamin D inadequacy, hypoparathyroidism.

Hypochondriac region- The right and left upper abdominal region that is under the ribs on either side of the abdomen.

Hypochondriasis- Hypochondriasis is the fear or belief of having a serious fatal disease, based on the misinterpretation of bodily symptoms. Anxiety disorders and depression are the common causes of hypochondriasis.

Hypodermic- A term denoting 'under the skin'.

Hypogastric region- The lower median region of the abdomen located below the umbilical region; also called the hypogastrium or suprapubic region. The superficial organs of the hypogastric region include portions of the small intestine, sigmoid colon, rectum, urinary bladder, ureters, uterus (in women and the vas deferens (in men).

Hypoglossal- The final of the cranial nerves that controls tongue movements.

Hypoglycemia- Blood glucose levels less than 2.5mM, usually a complication of diabetes.

Hypokalemia- A serum potassium concentration less than 3.5mEq/L; often caused by altered excretion, insufficient potassium intake, or an underlying condition such as chronic kidney disease.

Hypomania- A milder form of mania characterized by an elevated mood in addition to increased energy and talkativeness, hyperactivity, impulsivity, irritability, and reduced sleep.

Hyponatremia- Low blood sodium; NaCl less than 135 mEq/L.

Hypoparathyroidism- A rare disorder characterized by absent or deficient parathyroid hormone (PTH) and hypocalcemia; the most common cause being an injury to or removal of the parathyroid glands.

Hypophysectomy- Surgical removal of the pituitary gland; done to remove tumors, or to treat Cushing's syndrome.

Hypophysis- The pituitary gland.

Hypopigmentation- Patches of skin that are lighter than the baseline skin color; primarily caused by a decrease in melanin content.

Hypopituitarism- The deficiency of one or more of the anterior pituitary hormones: GH, TSH, LH, FSH, prolactin, and ACTH.

Hypoplasia- An incomplete or underdeveloped organ or tissue, usually due to a lack of cell growth. Hypoplasia can occur in many different areas of the body - thumbs (thumb hypoplasia), optic nerve (optic nerve hypoplasia), and enamel (enamel hypoplasia).

Hypospadias- A urogenital birth defect in which the urethral opening is on the underside of the penis instead of its usual location at the tip of the glans.

Hyposthenia- A state of bodily weakness or extremely low muscular tension.

Hypotension- Lower than normal blood pressure; a reading less than 9/60 mmHg.

Hypothalamus- A small brain structure that lies below the thalamus and controls endocrine and autonomic nervous system functions.

Hypothyroidism-Thyroid hormone deficiency; also called myxedema in the extreme form.

Hypovolemic shock- A state of extreme physical collapse and exhaustion resulting from the loss of one-fifth of normal blood volume; most commonly associated with massive hemorrhage or trauma.

Hypoxemia- A low oxygen level in the arterial blood.

hyp- = under, below, beneath, less than normal
ox/o = oxygen
-emia = blood condition

Hypoxia- A low oxygen level in tissues, and/or cells.

Hysterectomy- Surgical removal of the uterus (womb). There are different types of hysterectomy, depending on which structures or organs are removed.


Denoting womb, uterus

Hysterosalpingography (HSG)- Radiographic examination of the uterus and the Fallopian tubes.


Denoting tissue


Alphabetical Listing of Med Terms

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



Increasing your understanding of medical terminology

Additional references:

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.

Medical Terminology Intuitive Section hot-anim This section was developed for 'speed learning' of medical terminology. Start by reviewing the meanings for a block of medical terms, and then go back and choose a previous term randomly and try to recall the meaning of that particular medical term before hovering over the term to determine the answer. These frequent mini-tests will accelerate the learning process and in a relatively short period of time, you will be able to quickly recall the meaning of all of the listed medical terms. This method of learning is superior to flash cards because of the frequent exposure and testing of your recall.





Med terms H- medical roots, prefixes-suffixes