Medical Dictionary

The Anatomy of medical jargon – part 2

Last month we started to see how medical terminology, no matter how complex it looks like, can be decoded by becoming more familiar with words roots deriving from -mostly – Greek and Latin. So far we focused only on parts of the human body.

This month, we will look at more general concepts, like diseases and medical conditions, colors, position, all concepts related to size and quantity, general aspects.

ColorGreek rootLatin rootExample
blackmelano--melanocyte
bluecyano--cyanosis
graypolio--poliomyelitis
greenchlor(o)--chlorephidrosis
purpleporphyr(o)-purpur-, purpureo-Porphyroblast/uropurpurin
rederythr(o)-, rhod(o)-rub-, rubr-erythrocyte/rhodopsin rubella
red-yellowcirrh(o)--cirrhosis
whiteleuc-, leuk-alb-leukocyte/albinuria
yellowxanth(o)-flav-xanthemia/medulla ossium flava
Disease/ConditionGreek rootExample
abnormal condition-iasisamebiasis
abnormal fear-phobiaaquaphobia
abnormal softening-malaciaarteriomalacia
pain-algia -dyniacheiralgia, gastrodynia
ambryonic/immature-blastblastocyst
condition of-sis
-y
actinobacillosis
epilepsy
dilation, expansion-ectasisatelectasis
disease-pathyacropathy
disintegration-lysisaminolysis
displacement-ectopianeurectopia
drooping-ptosisglossoptosis
enlargement-megalyhepatomegaly
excessive abnormal flow-rrhage, -rrhagiahemorrhage, salpingorrhagia
flow; discharge-rrheaglychorrea
formation, development-plasm
-plasia
cytoplasm
displasia
hardening-sclerosisencephalosclerosis
hernia, protrusion-celebronchocele
inflammation-itisdermatitis
narrowing-stenosisgastrostenosis
paralysis-plegiairidoplegia
presence of blood-emiaacnemia
produces, generates-genesisantiketogenesis
producing-genicalgogenic
rupture-rrhexismyorrhexis
state, condition-ia; -ismacetonemia
substance in urine-uriacitrullinuria
swelling-edemacephaledema
tumor, mass-omaacrospiroma
unusual or diseased condition-osisacanthosis
vomiting-emesismelenemesis
weakness-paresisenteroparesis

medical terms, vocabulary

DescriptionGreek RootLatin RootExamples
all, totalholo--holocrine gland
big, huge, largemega-, megal(o)-magn(i)-atriomegaly/magnification
biggest. largest-maxim-gluteus maximus
doublediplo-dupli-diploneural/duplication
equaliso-equi-anisodactyly/equinovalgus
fewoligo-pauci-oligoamnios/paucisynaptic
greatmega-, megal(o)-magn(i)-acromegalia/magnification
halfhemi-Semi- (demi from French)hemianopia/semicircular
hugemegal(o)-magn(i)-megalocardia/magnocellular
lesshypo--hypovolemia
littlemicro-microscope
longmacr(o)-long(i)-macroadenoma/caput longum
many, muchpoly-multi-polyadenous/multiarticular
more, in excesshyper--hypertension
part, partlymero-merocline gland
protoFirst, most important-protoerythrocyte
shortbrachy-brev(i)-brachycardia/brevicollis
smallmicr(o)-parv(i)- (rare)
-ula. -ule
microadenoma/pulsus parvus
follicle/nodule
smallest-minim-digitus minimum
twice/twodis-bis-disomy/bisacromial
onemonoun(i)-monoamelia/unilateral
DescriptionGreek RootLatin RootExample
aboveepi-super, supraepidermic/suprascapular
across, throughdiatrans/perdiacetyl/transretinal/per os
around/surroundingperi-circum-peripapillary/circumarticular
away from
deriving from
apodeapocrine
desensitize
beforeante-Pre, proantebrachium preanesthetic/prochordal
beneath-infra-infraclavicular
behind, in the back-dors(o)-, dors(i)-dorsal branch
behind, aftermetapostmetacarpum/postaxial
between, amonginterintercostal
Inside, withinendo-intraendoscopy
leftlevo-laev(o)-, sinistr-levocardia/sinistrocular
middlemes(o)-medi-acromesomelia
rightdexi(o)-dextr(o)-dexiocardia/dextrogastria
side-lateralanterolateral tract
outsideec- exoextra-ectopic/exocrine
extrabuccal
underneathhypo-sub-hypoglossal/subcutaneous
within-intraintrabdominal
DescriptionGreek RootLatin RootExample
bad, incorrectcac(o)-, dys-mal(e)-cacosmia,dyspepsia
malabsorption
bent, crookedankyl(o)--ankyloglossia
broad, wideeury-lat(i)-eurycephalic/latissimus dorsi
coldcry(o)-frig(i)-cryoanesthesia/frigidity
deadnecr(o)-mort-adiponecrosis/antemortem
different, additionalhetero--cardiac heterotaxia
equalis(o)-equ(i)-isoantibody/equiaxial
FALSEpseud(o)--pseudoarthrosis
female, femininethely--thyeligenic
flatplaty-plan(i)-platyglossal/planigraphy
good, welleu-ben(e)-, bon(i)-eucholia/beneceptor
hardscler(o)-dur(i)-atherosclerotic/dura mater
heavybar(o)-grav(i)-bariatrics/gravida
hollowcoel(o)-cav(i)-coelomycete/cavity
irregularpoikil(o)-osteopoikilosis
male, masculine-vir-virile
narrowsten(o)-angust(i)-aortostenosis/aorta angusta
newneo-nov(i)-neoblastic/de novo
normal, correct, straightorth(o)-rect(i)-orthopedics/rectum
oldpaleo-veter-paleocortex/veterans
separate, teaking apart-dis-dissection, disease
sharpoxy-ac-paroxysm/acute
slowbrady-tard(i)-bradycinesia/tardive
fasttachy-celer-tachyarrythmia/pulsus celer
softmalac(o)-moll(i)-malacoplakia/fibroma molle
thickpachy-crass(i)-acropachy/crassamentum
varied, variouspoikilo-vari-poikiloblast/acne varioliformis
well, goodeu-ben(e)-eudipsia/benign

This collection of prefixes and suffixes does not intend to be thorough. It details some of the most frequently used parts as well as some interesting ones (e.g. colours). Knowing them will disclose a whole new world to you, as you’ll be able to have an idea of what doctors are talking about, even before you find the definition or ask for further explanation.

Happy learning!

Claudia

P.S. Do you want to add more terms or expressions to these lists, or maybe have more blog post ideas?Drop us a line.

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Looking forward to discover the human body terminology and learn more? Browse through the glossary on the Interactive 3D Human Anatomy & Physiology and make the most of the search function.
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