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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)

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

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Medical Terminology Reference

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

dacryoadenitis

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: dacry/o
1st Root Definition: tear
2nd Root Word: aden/o
2nd Root Word Definition: gland
Suffix: -itis
Suffix Definition: inflammation
Definition: inflammation of the lacrimal gland (gland that produces tears)

dacryocystitis

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: dacryocyst/o
1st Root Definition: tear sac; lacriman sac
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -itis
Suffix Definition: inflammation
Definition: inflammation of the tear sac

dactylogy

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: dactyl/o
1st Root Definition: fingers; toes
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -logy
Suffix Definition: study (process of)
Definition: process of communicating by signs made with the fingers (sign
language)

dehydrate

Prefix: de-
Prefix Definition: lack of; down; less; removal of
1st Root Word: hydr/o
1st Root Definition: water
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -ate
Suffix Definition: possessing; have the appearance or characteristics of
Definition: lack of water

dentist

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: dent/i
1st Root Definition: tooth
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -ist
Suffix Definition: specialist
Definition: specialist in the treatment that affect the teeth

dermatitis

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: dermat/o
1st Root Definition: skin
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -itis
Suffix Definition: inflammation
Definition: inflammation of the skin

dermatologist

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: dermat/o
1st Root Definition: skin
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -logist
Suffix Definition: specialist in the study of
Definition: specialist in the treatment of skin

dermatology

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: dermat/o
1st Root Definition: skin
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -logy
Suffix Definition: study (process of)
Definition: study of the skin

dermatosis

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: dermat/o
1st Root Definition: skin
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -osis
Suffix Definition: condition, usually abnormal
Definition: abnormal condition/disease of the skin

dextrocardia

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: dextr/o
1st Root Definition: right
2nd Root Word: cardi/o
2nd Root Word Definition: heart
Suffix: -ia
Suffix Definition: condition
Definition: condition where the heart points to the right instead of the left

diagnosis

Prefix: dia-
Prefix Definition: complete
1st Root Word: gnos/o
1st Root Definition: knowledge
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -osis
Suffix Definition: condition, usually abnormal
Definition: knowledge of identifying abnormal conditions; disease, illness

dialysis

Prefix: dia-
Prefix Definition: complete
1st Root Word:
1st Root Definition:
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -lysis
Suffix Definition: breakdown; separation; destruction; loosening
Definition: separation of particles (waste…) in a liquid

diarrhea

Prefix: dia-
Prefix Definition: complete
1st Root Word:
1st Root Definition:
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -rrhea
Suffix Definition: flow; discharge
Definition: condition of feces being discharged from the bowels in a liquid
form

diploid

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: dipl/o
1st Root Definition: double
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -oid
Suffix Definition: resembling; derived from
Definition: cell or nucleus containing two complete sets of chromosomes
derived from each parent

diplopia

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: dipl/o
1st Root Definition: double
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -opia
Suffix Definition: vision condition
Definition: vision condition of seeing double (double vision)

diplosis

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: dipl/o
1st Root Definition: double
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -osis
Suffix Definition: condition, usually abnormal
Definition: condition of cells having two homologous copies of each
chromosome

dipsomania

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: dips/o
1st Root Definition: thirst
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -mania
Suffix Definition: obsessive preoccupation
Definition: obsessive preoccupation of being thirsty for alcohol

dissection

Prefix: dis-
Prefix Definition: apart; to separate
1st Root Word: sect/o
1st Root Definition: to cut
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -ion
Suffix Definition: process
Definition: process of cutting (a body) apart

distal

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: dist/o
1st Root Definition: far; distant
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -al
Suffix Definition: pertaining to
Definition: pertaining to being distant from the center of the body or point
of attachment

dorsad

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: dors/o
1st Root Definition: back (of body)
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -ad
Suffix Definition: toward
Definition: toward the back

dorsal

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: dors/o
1st Root Definition: back (of body)
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -al
Suffix Definition: pertaining to
Definition: pertaining to the back

dorcephalad

Prefix:
Prefix Definition:
1st Root Word: dors/o
1st Root Definition: back (of body)
2nd Root Word: cephal/o
2nd Root Word Definition: head
Suffix: -ad
Suffix Definition: toward
Definition: toward the back of the head

dwarfism

Prefix: dwarf-
Prefix Definition: short stature
1st Root Word:
1st Root Definition:
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -ism
Suffix Definition: process; condition
Definition: condition of being short in stature

dysentery

Prefix: dys-
Prefix Definition: bad; painful; difficult; abnormal
1st Root Word: enter/o
1st Root Definition: intestines
2nd Root Word: (usually small intestines)
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -y
Suffix Definition: condition; process
Definition: abnormal condition of the intestines

dysfunction

Prefix: dys-
Prefix Definition: bad; painful; difficult; abnormal
1st Root Word: funct/o
1st Root Definition: performance
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -ion
Suffix Definition: process
Definition: process of an abnormal performance of an organ or system

dysgeusia

Prefix: dys-
Prefix Definition: bad; painful; difficult; abnormal
1st Root Word:
1st Root Definition:
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -geusia
Suffix Definition: taste
Definition: abnormal sense of taste

dyspepsia

Prefix: dys-
Prefix Definition: bad; painful; difficult; abnormal
1st Root Word:
1st Root Definition:
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -pepsia
Suffix Definition: digestion
Definition: bad; painful; difficult; abnormal digestion

dysphagia

Prefix: dys-
Prefix Definition: bad; painful; difficult; abnormal
1st Root Word:
1st Root Definition:
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -phagia
Suffix Definition: eating; swallowing
Definition: difficult; painful when swallowing

dysphasia

Prefix: dys-
Prefix Definition: bad; painful; difficult; abnormal
1st Root Word:
1st Root Definition:
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -phasia
Suffix Definition: speech
Definition: abnormal speech behavior

dysplasia

Prefix: dys-
Prefix Definition: bad; painful; difficult; abnormal
1st Root Word:
1st Root Definition:
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -plasia
Suffix Definition: development; formation
Definition: abnormal formation; development of an organ or tissue

dysthymia

Prefix: dys-
Prefix Definition: bad; painful; difficult; abnormal
1st Root Word:
1st Root Definition:
2nd Root Word:
2nd Root Word Definition:
Suffix: -thymia
Suffix Definition: mind (condition of)
Definition: abnormal condition of the mind (mild depression)

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