The Anatomy of Medical Jargon (Part 1)

Anatomy classes have started and in the last few weeks your ears haves been picking up new sounds and trying to decode the medical jargon used by your educators when explaining the human body…

Don’t panic! In few months, you will also speak the same language too…But, why wait a few months when you can get a head-start TODAY!

Medical terms, whether they refer to the human body parts or to health conditions, are often compound words made up of sections with a specific meaning. Each section mostly derives from Greek and Latin. 90% of the medical vocabulary is made up by less than 400 prefixes, infixes and suffixes. Prefixes are added before the word stem, infixes are in the middle of a word, while suffixes end a word.

The focus today is on the terms which refer to (parts of) the human body.


Body Part / Component
Greek Root
Latin Root
Abdomen lapar(o)- abdomin- laparoscopy
Arm brachi(o)- brachial plexus
Armpit axill- axillary nerve
Back dors- dorsal digital vein
Bile chol(e)- cholaemia
Bladder cyst(o)- vesic(o)- cystitia/vesicular
Blood haemat-, hemat- (haem-, hem-) sangui-, sanguine- sanguinous
Blood Clot thromb(o)- thrombosis
Blood Vessel angi(o)- vascul-, vas- provascular
Body somat-, som- corpor- metasomatic
Bone oste(o)- ossi- osteopath/ossification
Bone Marrow, Marrow myel(o)- medull- myelocytes/medullary
Brain encephal(o)- cerebr(o)- encephalitis/intracerebral
Breast mast(o)- mamm(o)- mastoidectomy/mammography
Cell -cyte, cyt(o)- erythrocytes, cytoblast
Chest steth(o)- stethoscope
Cheek bucc- buccolingual
Cornea kerat(o)- acrokeratoelastoidosis
Ear ot(o)- aur- macrotia/auroscopy
Eggs, Ova oo- ov- oocyte/ovocyte
Eye ophthalm(o)- ocul(o)- ophtalmologist
Eyelid blephar(o)- cili-; palpebr- blepharonasofacial/cillosis/palpebral fissure
Fallopian Tubes salping(o)- salpingectomy
Fat, Fatty Tissue lip(o)- adip- alipogenic/adipocyte
Finger dactyl(o)- digit- digital vein/ dactylalgia
Forehead front(o)- anterofrontal
Foot -pod-  – podiatry
Gallbladder cholecyst(o)- fell- cholecystatony
Genitals, Sexually Undifferentiated gon(o)-, phall(o)- gonocele/phallic
Gland aden(o)- adenization
Glans Penis or Clitoridis balan(o)- balanoplasty
Gums gingiv- gingivobuccoaxial
Hair trich(o)- capill- trichotillomania/capillarectasia
Hand cheir(o)-, chir(o)- manu- chiropodology/manubrium
Head cephal(o)- capit(o)- cephalic vein/capitate
Heart cardi(o)- cordi- cardiovascular
Hip, Hip-joint cox- coxarhtropathy
Horn cerat(o)- cornu- angioceratoma/corniform
Intestine enter(o)- enterograph
Jaw gnath(o)- Gnathic index
Joint articul(o)- arthr- articulation/arthritis, arthralgia
Kidney nephr(o)- ren- pyelonephritis/renicardiac
Knee gon- genu- genupectoral
Lip cheil(o)-, chil(o)- labi(o)- macrocheilia/labiodental
Liver hepat(o)- (hepatic-) jecor- hepatitis
Loins, Pubic Region episi(o)- pudend- episioitis/pudendagra
Lungs pneumon- pulmon(i)- (pulmo-) pneumonia/pulmocardiac
Marrow, Bone Marrow myel(o)- medull- amyelotrophy/medulla oblongata
Mind Psych-, phren- ment- psychology/phrenology/dementia
Mouth stomat(o)- or- stomatopathy/oral
Muscle my(o)- muscul- amyocardia/musculoskeletal
Nail onych(o)- ungui- melanonychia/ subungual
Navel omphal(o)- umbilic- omphaloncus/umbilical cord
Neck trachel(o)- cervic- trachelocele/cervicardiac
Nerve; The Nervous System neur(o)- nerv- idionerual/nervous
Nipple, Teat thele- papill-, mammill- theleplasty/papillary/mammillitis
Nose rhin(o)- nas- rhinallergosis/nasal cavity
Ovary oophor(o)- ovari(o)- oophorectomy/hyperovaria
Pelvis pyel(o)- pelv(i)- endopyelotomy/endopelvic
Penis pe(o)- peotomy
Pupil (of The Eye) cor-, core-, coro- anisocoria
Rib pleur(o)- cost(o)- pleurocentesis/costalgia
Rib Cage thorac(i)-, thorac(o)- thoracic
Shoulder om(o)- humer(o)- omarthritis/humeroulner
Sinus sinus- sinusitis
Skin dermat(o)- (derm-) cut(ane)-, cuticul- dermatologist, subcutaneous
Skull crani(o)- cranioclast
Spine rhachi(o)-, spondyl(o)- rachioplegia/spondylomalacia
Stomach gastr(o)- ventr(o)- gastromyorrhea/ventriduction
Testis orchi(o)-, orchid(o)- orchichorea
Tissue hist(o)-, histio- histionic
Throat (upper Throat Cavity) pharyng(o)- pharyngitis
Throat (lower Throat Cavity/voice Box]) laryng(o)- laryngitis
Thumb pollic- pollical
Tooth odont(o)- dent(i)- allotridontia/dentinogenesis
Tongue gloss-, glott- lingu(a)- entoglossal/lingual artery
Toe dactyl(o)- digit- See *finger
Uterine Tubes sarping(o)- sarping(o)- salpingectomy
Uterus hyster(o)-, metr(o)- uter(o)- hysterocele/uterine
Vagina colp(o)- vagin- colposcopy
Vein phleb(o)- ven- phelbarteriodyalisis/venous
Vulva episi(o)- vulv- episiorrhaphy/vulvovaginitis
Womb hyster(o)-, metr(o)- uter(o)- See *uterus
Wrist carp(o)- carp(o)- carpopedal
Xiphisternum xiph- xiphoid process
Zygote zygo- zygosis


We thought that deep-diving into 400 prefixes, infixes and suffixes would be a bit too much, and not the best way to learn. So, after the human body, in few weeks, we’ll focus on other widely used words which make up medical terms (e.g. health conditions, locations, etc.). For the moment, you’ll have enough to discover.

In the meantime, if you have any suggestions for upcoming blog articles, just let us know.

Happy Learning!


Explore more anatomy terms with the search function on our Interactive 3D Human Anatomy & Physiology.