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Prefixes, Suffixes, and Stems

The following list gives the meanings of prefixes, suffixes, and stems that are commonly used to form scientific terms. Whenever you encounter a new term in your study of biology or any science, break it apart and try to find the parts in this list. Such a habit will greatly simplify your mastery of scientific vocabulary. As an example, you might take the word nephrology. The stem nephro- is derived from the Greek word nephros, meaning kidney, while the stem log-is derived from the Greek word logos, meaning thought or study of. You might later encounter the word nephrolith, and you would then only have to determine the meaning of the suffix lith, since you would already know the meaning of the first part of the word. After some practice, you will be surprised how many new words you can define without looking them up. You should also be aware that is has often been necessary to add a vowel when combining word parts for a more pleasing pronunciation. For example, bacteri- + -logy becomes bacteriology. For the same reason it has been necessary at times to drop or change a vowel in a prefix, suffix, or stem. For example, gastro becomes gastric, the adjective pertaining to the stomach. Most scientific terms are derived from either the ancient Greek or the Latin because neither of these languages is currently in use and they are universally studied. Learning the meaning of the following word elements will help develop your biological vocabulary.

Vocabulary Development Quizzes:

See your course syllabus for the schedule of quiz dates. Dates are subject to change if necessarypay attention to updates in class. Know meanings of all terms VERY well! You will be asked to decipher the meanings of new scientific terms that incorporate these word elements. Each quiz will focus on a particular portion of the list, but will also include word elements from previous quizzestherefore; you will need to continuously review past material.

99577140.doc 6/7/2012

Scientific Root Words, Prefixes, and Suffixes


a-, annot, without, lacking abaway from, out from -able capable of acto, toward -aceous of or pertaining to acou-, acoushear acr-, acro- height adto, toward adengland adipfat aeroair agrifield, soil -al having the character of albwhite alg-, -algia pain altohigh ambiboth amebchange, alternation amnifetal membrane amphi-, amphoboth amylstarch anaup, back, again androman, masculine anemo- wind angchoke, feel pain angiblood, vessel, duct antebefore, ahead of time anterfront anthoflower antiagainst, opposite anthropo- man, human -ap-, -aph- touch apo-, ap- away from aquwater archaeo- primitive, ancient -ary, -arium denotes a place for something arteriartery arthrjoint, articulation -ase forms names of enzymes aster-, astrstar -ate verb form the act of antherfatty deposit -ation noun form the act of atmovapor audihear aurear autoself bacter-, bactrbacterium, stick, club barbbeard baroweight bathdepth, height benewell, good bi- (Latin) two twice bi-, bio- (Greek) life, living -blastsprout, germ, bud brachiarm brachy- short bradyslow branchi- fin brevshort bronch- windpipe cac-. bad calorheat capillhair capithead carcincancer cardiheart carnmeat, flesh carpfruit carpalwrist catabreakdown, downward caudtail -cellchamber, small room cen-, cenenow, recent centepierce centicentrcephalceratcerebrcervicchelchemchirchlorchondrchrom-, -chrome chron-chym-cid-, -ciscirca-, circumcirrucococccoelcollconicontracorpcort-, corticcosmocotylcountercranicresc-, cretcrypt-cul-, -cule cumulcuticyan-cycle, cycl-cystcyt-, -cyte dactyldedecadecideliquescdemidendrdentdermdi-, dipl- (Latin) di-, dia- (Greek) dia- (Latin) digitdindisdormdorsdu-, duo-duct dynamdysecechinecoecto-elle -emia en-, endo-, ent-en encephalenterentom-eous epi-errerythro-escent esohudredth center head horn brain neck claw dealing with chemicals hand green cartilage color time juice cut, kill, fall around, about hairlike curls with, together seed, berry hollow glue cone against body outer layer world, order, form cup against skull begin to grow hidden, covered small, diminutive heaped skin blue ring, circle sac, pouch, bladder cell, hollow container finger away from, down ten tenth become fluid half tree tooth skin two, double through, across, apart day finger, toe terrible apart, out sleep back two lead power bad, abnormal, difficult out of, away from spiny, prickly house outside of small blood in, into, within made of brain intestine, gut insects nature of, like upon, above, over wander, go astray red becoming inward, within, inner eueuryexextra-ferferrofibr-fid, fiss-flect, -flex florflu-,fluct-,flux folifract-gamgastrgeo-gen, -gine -gene-gest-glen-globglossgluc-, glycglutgnath-gon -grad-gram, graph grav-grossgymnogyngyr-hal-, -hale halohaplhector-helminthhemhemihepar-, hepatherbheterohexhibernhidrhipphistholohomo- (Latin) homo- (Greek) horthydrhygrhyperhyphhyphnohypohyster-iae -iasis -ic -chthyignin-, il-, im-, irin-, il-, im-, irin-ine infrainterintra-ism iso-ist -it is -ium well, good, true, normal widen out of, away from beyond, outside bear, carry, produce iron fiber, thread split, divided into bend flower flow leaf break marriage stomach land, earth producer, former origin, birth carry, produce, bear eyeball ball, round tongue sweet, sugar buttock jaw angle, corner step record, writing heavy thick naked, bare female ring, circle, spiral breathe, breath salt simple hundred worm blood half liver grass, plants different, other six winter sweat horse tissue entire, whole man, human same, alike garden water moist, wet above, beyond over weaving, web sleep below, under, less womb, uterus person afflicted with disease disease, abnormal condition (adjective former) fish fire not to, toward, into very, thoroughly of or pertaining to below, beneath within, inside between a state or condition equal, same person who deals with inflammation, disease refers to a part of the body

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-karykelkeratkilokinelachrylactlatleio-less leuc-, leuklignlinlinguliplith-, -lite loc-log-logist -logy lumin-lys, -lyt, -lyst macrmalacmallemammmargmastmedmegmela-, melan-mer mesmet-, meta-meter, -metry micromillimismitomolemonomortmotmorphmultimutmymycmycelmyriadmollnasnecrnematneoneprho-nerneurnoct-, nov-node -nom-, -nomy nonnotnucoboculoctodont-ond olfoligo-oma omnioncooopthalmoptorb-orium, -ory

cell nucleus tumor, swelling horn thousand move tear milk side smooth without white, bright, light wood line tongue fat stone, petrifying place word, speech one who studies study of light decompose, split, dissolve large soft hammer breast border, edge breast middle million, great black, dark part middle, half, intermediate between, along, after measurement small, millionth thousandth wrong, incorrect thread mass one, single death move shape, form many change muscle fungus threadlike many soft nose corpse, dead thread new, recent kidney moist, liquid nerve night knot ordered knowledge, law not back center against eye eight tooth form, appearance smell few, little abnormal condition, tumor all mass, tumor egg eye eye circle, round, ring place for something

ornithorthoscu-osis osteoto-ous ovoxypachypaleopalmpanpar-, parapath-, -pathy -ped-pedpentperperipermeaphagpheno-philphon-, -phone -phore,, pherphotophrenphycphyl-phyll physicphyt-, phyte pinopinniplanplasm-, -plastplatypleurpneumo-pod plyporportpostpom preprimprop[rotopseudopsych pterpulmopulspyrquadrquinradirerectrenretrhag-, -rrhage rhe-, rrhea rhinrhizrhodorotorubrsaccharsaprsarcsaurschis-, schizsciscler-scop-scribe, -script

bird straight, correct, right mouth abnormal condition bone ear full of egg sharp, acid, oxygen thick old, ancient broad, flat all beside, near, equal disease, suffering foot child five through around pas, go eat show loving, fond of sound bear, carry light mind, diaphragm seaweed, algae related group leaf nature, natural qualities platn drink feather roaming, wandering form, formed into flat lung, rib, side lungs, air foot many, several opening carry after, behind fruit before, ahead of time first forward, favoring, before first, primary false, deceptive mind having wings or fins lung drive, push heat, fire four five ray again, back right, correct kidney net, made like a net burst forth flow nose root rose wheel red sugar rotten flesh lizard split, divide know hard look, device for seeing write

semisept-septic sesssex-sis solsolvsom-, somat-, -some somnsonspec-, spic-sperm-spherspir-, -spire -sporstat-, -stasis stellstensternstom-, -stome stratstereostrictstylsubsuper-, sursym-, syntachytarsotaxteleteloterrtetrthall-the-, -thes-theltherm-tomtoxicotoptrachetranstritrich-trop-trophturb-ul-, -ule ultrauniur-ura vasvectven-, ventventr-verge vigvit-, vivvolv-vorxanthxeroxylzo-, -zoa zygzym-

half, partly partition, seven infection, putrefaction sit six condition, state sun loosen, free body sleep sound look at seed ball, round breathe seed standing, placed, staying stars narrow chest, breast mouth
divide, arrange

solid, 3-dimensional drawn tight pillar under, below over, above, on top together quick, swift ankle arrange, put in order far off, distant end earth, land four young shoot put cover a surface heat cut, slice poison place windpipe across three hair turn, change nourishment, one who feels whirl diminutive, small beyond one urine tail vessel carry come belly, underside turn, slant strong life roll, wander devour, eat yellow dry wood animal joined together yeast

99577140.doc 6/7/2012