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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)

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

bactericide

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: bacteri/o
1st Root Definition: bacteria
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -cide
Suffix Definition: killing
Definition: substance capable of killing bacteria

bactericidal

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: bacteri/o
1st Root Definition: bacteria
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -cidal
Suffix Definition: pertaining to killing
Definition: pertaining to a substance capable of killing bacteria

bacteriophage

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: bacteri/o
1st Root Definition: bacteria
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -phage
Suffix Definition: eat; swallow
Definition: virus that eats (infects) bacteria

balanitis

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: balan/o
1st Root Definition: glans penis
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -itis
Suffix Definition: inflammation
Definition: inflammation of the penis

basolateral

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: bas/o
1st Root Definition: base; opposite of acid
2nd Root Word: later/o
2nd Root Word Definition: side
Suffix: -al
Suffix Definition: pertaining to
Definition: pertaining to the location in or on the base and one or more
sides

biliary tract

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: bil/i
1st Root Definition: bile; gall
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -ary
Suffix Definition: pertaining to
Definition: pertaining to the gallbladder and bile ducts

binary

Prefix: bi-
Prefix Definition: two
1st Root Word:
1st Root Definition:
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -ary
Suffix Definition: pertaining to
Definition: pertaining to something composed with two parts

biologist

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: bi/o
1st Root Definition: life
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -logist
Suffix Definition: specialist in the study of
Definition: specialist in the study of life

biology

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: bi/o
1st Root Definition: life
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -logy
Suffix Definition: study (process of)
Definition: study of life

blastomere

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: blast/o
1st Root Definition: embryonic; immature cell
2nd Root Word: mer/o/e
2nd Root Word Definition: part
Suffix:
Suffix Definition:
Definition: any of the cells resulting from the cleavage of a fertilized ovum
during early embryonic development

blepharoplasty

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: blephar/o
1st Root Definition: eyelid
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -plasty
Suffix Definition: surgical repair
Definition: surgical repair of the eyelid

blepharospasm

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: blephar/o
1st Root Definition: eyelid
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -spasm
Suffix Definition: sudden contraction of muscles
Definition: sudden contraction of muscles of the eyelid

brachium

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: brachi/o
1st Root Definition: arm
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -ium
Suffix Definition: structure; tissue
Definition: structure of the (upper) arm

brachycephalic

Prefix: brachy-
Prefix Definition: short
1st Root Word: cephal/o
1st Root Definition: head
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -ic
Suffix Definition: pertaining to
Definition: pertaining to a short skull; head

bradycardia

Prefix: brady-
Prefix Definition: slow
1st Root Word: cardi/o
1st Root Definition: heart
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -ia
Suffix Definition: condition
Definition: condition of a slow heart rate

bronchiectasis

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: bronchi/o
1st Root Definition: bronchial tube
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -ectasis
Suffix Definition: dilation; dilatation; widening
Definition: dilation; dilatation; widening of the bronchial tube

bronchitis

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: bronchi/o
1st Root Definition: bronchial tube
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -itis
Suffix Definition: inflammation
Definition: inflammation of the bronchial tube

buccolabial

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: bucc/o
1st Root Definition: cheek
2nd Root Word: labi/o
2nd Root Word Definition: lip
Suffix: -al
Suffix Definition: pertaining to
Definition: pertaining to both the cheek and lip

bursa

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: burs/o
1st Root Definition: bursa (sac of fluid near joints)
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -a
Suffix Definition: pertaining to
Definition: pertaining to the sac of fluid near joints

bursitis

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: burs/o
1st Root Definition: bursa (sac of fluid near joints)
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -itis
Suffix Definition: inflammation
Definition: inflammation of the sac of fluid near joints
 

 

Increasing your understanding of medical terminology

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.

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n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Medical Terminology Intuitive Section B
This section was developed for ‘speed learning’ of medical terminology.

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Additional references:

Prefixes denoting numbers
Prefixes denoting position and/or direction
Prefixes denoting measurement
Medical Terminology Noun Suffixes
Combining forms for color
Common Prefixes B
Adjective Suffixes
Specialties and specialists med terms
Instruments, surgical, and diagnostic procedures
Negative prefixes
Common suffixes B


Quick Introduction– provides an overview and introduction to medical terminology. 
Medical Terms – rules governing singular versus plural versions of medical terms are described.

 

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