Lego

How words are built: combining forms, prefixes, and suffixes

Many words are built using a combination of linguistic elements, such as prefixes, suffixes, and combining forms. Whereas prefixes and suffixes adjust the sense of a word or its word class, combining forms differ by contributing to the particular meaning of that word.

Here is a list of combining forms, prefixes, and suffixes together with their meanings and examples.

Combining Form
Meaning
Example(s)
adeno-
relating to a gland or glands
adenocarcinoma
-aemia
see -emia
 
agro-, agri-
of or involving agriculture
agro-industry,agribusiness
-algia
of or involving pain
neuralgia, nostalgia
allo-
other; different
allotrope, allophone
amphi-
both; around
amphibian,amphitheatre
ana-, an-
up; back; again
anabatic,anachronism,Anabaptism
-androus
having male parts
monandrous
angio-
of blood or seed vessels
angiography,angiosperm
ante-
before; in front
antediluvian,anterior
antho-, -anth
of or relating to flowers
anthophilous,perianth
anthropho-, -anthropic
of humans
anthropology,philanthropic
apo-
away from; separate
apocrypha,apocarpous
aqua-
of or relating to water
aquaculture,aquamarine
arch-
chief; principal
archbishop, arch-fiend
archaeo-, archeo-
ancient; prehistoric
archaeology
arterio-
of or relating to the arteries
arteriosclerosis
arthro-, arthr-
of or relating to joints
arthroscope,arthritis
astro-
of stars or space
astronomy,astrophysics
audio-, audi-
of or relating to hearing or sound
audiovisual, audible
auto-, aut-
self; spontaneous
autonomous,automatic
baro-, bar-, -baric
of or relating to pressure
barometer,hyperbaric
bathy-, batho-
of or relating to depth
bathyscaphe
bi-
two; twice; every two; lasting two
biathlon, biannual,bicentennial,biennium
biblio-
of or relating to books
bibliophile,bibliography
bio-
of or relating to life
biology, biohazard
-biosis, -biotic
denoting or relating to a mode of life
symbiosis,antibiotic
brachy-, -brach
short
brachycephalic,amphibrach
broncho-, bronch-
of or relating to air passages
bronchial,bronchopneumonia

caco-, cac-, kak-

bad or worst
cacophony,kakistocracy
calli-, cal-
good, beautiful
callipygian,callisthenics
carcino-
of or relating to cancer
carcinogenic
cardio-, cardi-, -cardia
of or relating to the heart
cardiogram,tachycardia
cata-, cat-, kata-
down(ward); wrongly or badly; completely; against
catadromous,katabatic,catachresis,cataclysm, catapult

-cele, -coele

swelling; hernia
meningocele
centi-
one hundredth; one hundred
centilitre, centipede
-cephalic, -cephalous, cephalo-
of or relating to the head; -headed
brachycephalic,cephalometry,hydrocephalous
cerato-, cerat-
see kerato-
 
cerebro-, cerebr-
of or relating to the brain
cerebrospinal
cheiro-
see chiro-
 
chemi-, chemico-, chemo-
of or relating to drugs or chemicals
chemotherapy

chiro-, cheiro-

of the hand or hands
chiropody,chiromancy
chlor-, chloro-
green, of or relating to chlorine
chloracne,chloroquine
chromato-, chromat-, chromo-
color; of colors
chromatic,chromosome
chrono-, chron-
of or relating to time
chronometer,chronic
chrys-, chryso-
of or relating to gold
chrysanthemum
-cide, -cidal
of killing or a killer
regicide, homicide,suicidal
cine-
of or relating to film
cinematic
circum-
around; about
circumpolar,circumlocution
clado-, clad-
of or relating to a branch or branching
cladogram,cladistics
clin-, -clinal, -cline, -clinic
of, denoting, or relating to a slope
clinometer,geosyncline
-coele
see -cele
 
contra-
against or opposite; below or beyond
contraband,contrabass
copro-
of or relating to dung or feces
coprophagous,coprophilia
cortico-, cortic-
of or relating to a cortex
corticosteroid
cosmo-, cosm-
of or relating to the world or universe
cosmography
-cracy
denoting a form of government or rule
autocracy,democracy
cranio-, crani-
of or relating to the skull
craniotomy
-crat
denoting a member or supporter of a form of government or rule
plutocrat,technocrat
-cratic
of or relating to a form of government or rule
bureaucratic,theocratic
cryo-
of or involving cold
cryosurgery,cryogenics
crypto-, crypt-
concealed; secret
cryptogram, crypto-fascist
cupr-, cupro-
of or relating to copper
cupro-nickel
cyano-, cyan-
of or relating to blue or dark blue
cyanosis
cyber-
of or relating to electronic communications
cyberspace,cybernaut
cyno-
of or relating to dogs
cynodont
cysto-, cyst-
of or relating to the bladder
cystotomy
-cyte, cyt-
denoting a mature cell
lymphocyte
cyto-
of a cell or cells
cytology, cytoplasm
deca-, dec-
ten
decahedron,Decalogue
deci-
tenth
decilitre
demi-
half; inferior or partial
demitasse,demigod
dendro-, dendron
denoting or relating to a tree or trees
dendrology,rhododendron
dermato, dermat-
of or relating to the skin
dermatitis
dextro-
on or to the right
dextrorotatory
di-
twice; two
dichromatic, dioxide
dia-, di-
through or across; apart
diameter, diakinesis
dorsi-, dorso-
of, to, or on the back
dorsiventral
-drome
denoting a place for running or racing; running or proceeding a certain way
hippodrome,palindrome
dys-
bad; difficult
dyspepsia,dyslexia,dysfunctional
eco-
relating to ecology
ecosystem,ecoterrorism
ecto-
outer; external
ectoderm,ectoplasm
-ectomy
denoting a removal of a part
appendectomy; compare -otomy

-emia, -hemia, -aemia, -haemia

denoting presence of a substance in the blood
septicaemia,leukaemia
encephalo-, encephal-
of or relating to the brain
encephalopathy
endo-, end-
internal; within
endoderm,endogenous
entero-, enter-
of or relating to the intestine
enterovirus,enteritis
epi-, ep-
upon; above; in addition
epitaph, epicotyl,epiphenomenon
erythro-, erythr-
red
erythrocyte,erythromycin
ethno-
of or relating to a people or nation
ethnocentric,ethnology
eu-
good; well; easily
eupeptic,euphemism,euphony
eury-
denoting a wide variety or range
eurytopic
exo-
outside
exobiology,exoskeleton,exoteric
-facient
producing a specified action or state
abortifacient
-faction
denoting a specified action or state
liquefaction,satisfaction
-ferous, -iferous
having, bearing or containing
pestiferous,Carboniferous
ferro-, ferr-
containing iron
ferroconcrete,ferromagnetic
-fic, -fication
making
terrific,simplification
fluvio-
of or relating to a river or rivers
fluvioglacial
-fuge
expelling or dispelling
vermifuge,centrifuge
-fy
make
satisfy, mollify
Gallo-
French
Gallo-German
-gamous, -gamy
of or relating to marriage or reproduction
exogamous,heterogamy
gastr-, gastro-
of or relating to the stomach
gastrectomy,gastroenteritis
-gate
denoting an actual or alleged scandal (suggestive of "Watergate")
Irangate, Travelgate
-gen
denoting a substance producing or produced
allergen, cultigen
-genic
producing, produced, or suited to
carcinogenic,iatrogenic,photogenic
-genous
producing; inducing; originating in
erogenous,endogenous
-geny
denoting a mode of production
orogeny, phylogeny
geo-, ge-
of or relating to the earth
geochemistry,geomorphic
geront-, geronto-, gero-, ger-
of or relating to old age
gerontocracy,geriatrics
glyco-, glyc-
of, relating to, or producing sugar
glycogenesis,glycoside
-gon
having a certain number of angles
hexagon, pentagon
-gony
denoting a kind of origin or reproduction
cosmogony
-gram
denoting something written or recorded
cryptogram,telegram
-graph
denoting something written or drawn; denoting a recording instrument
autograph,seismograph
-grapher
denoting a person concerned with a subject
geographer
-graphic
of a subject or study
demographic,oceanographic
-graphy
denoting a science or technique, a style, or a kind of writing
geography,radiography,calligraphy,hagiography
gymno-, gymn-
naked
gymnosperm,gymnasium
gynaeco-
of or relating to women
gynaecology
-gynous, -gyne
having female organs
epigynous
gyro-
of or relating to rotation
gyroscope,gyrostabilizer
haemato-, haemo-
see hemo-
 
-haemia
see -emia
 
hagio-, hagi-
of or relating to saints or saintliness
hagiography
halo-, hal-
of or relating to salinity or halogens
halophile
helio-
of or relating to the sun
heliocentric,heliometer

hemato-, haemato-, hemo-

of or relating to blood
haematoma
hemi-
half
hemisphere,hemistich
-hemia
see -emia
 

hemo-

see hemato-
 
hepato-, hepat-
of or relating to the liver
hepatomegaly,hepatitis
hepta-
seven
heptagon,heptathlon
hetero-, heter-
different; diverse
heterosexual,heterogeneous
hexa-, hex-
six
hexagon, hexagram
hiero-, hier-
sacred; holy
hierophant,hieroglyphic
histo-, hist-
of or relating to organic tissue
histochemistry,histocompatibility
holo-, hol-
whole; complete
holocaust, holistic
homo-, hom-
same; relating to homosexual love
homogeneous,homoerotic
homeo-
similar
homeopathy
hydr-, hydro-
of or relating to water; of accumulation of fluid
hydraulic,hydroelectric,hydrocephalus
hyper-
over or beyond; exceeding; excessively
hyperborean,hypersonic,hyperactive
hypno-, hypn-
relating to sleep or hypnosis
hypnagogic,hypnotherapy
hypo-, hyp-
below or lower
hypodermic,hypoglycaemia,hypaesthesia
iatro-, -iatry, -iatric
of or relating to doctors or medical treatment
iatrogenic,psychiatry
ichthyo-, ichthy-
of or relating to fish
ichthyosaur
icono-, icon-
of or relating to images or icons
iconology,iconoclast
ideo-
of or relating to an idea or form
ideology, ideograph
idio-
distinct; private; personal
idiotype, idiopathic
infra-
below or under
infraorder,infrastructure
inter-
between or among; mutually
intercollegiate,interdependent
intra-
on the inside or within
intrados, intramural
intro-
into or inwards
introversion,intromission
-ism
denoting an action, result, or quality; denoting a system or principle; denoting a peculiarity in language; denoting a condition
baptism, exorcism,barbarism,feminism,Americanism,alcoholism
iso-
equal
isobar, isosceles,isomer
kak-
see caco-
 

kerato-, kerat-, cerato-, cerat-

of or relating to horny tissue or the cornea
keratin, keratotomy
kilo-
one thousand
kilometre
kineto-, kinet-, -kinesis
of or relating to movement
kinetoscope,kinetics,hyperkinesis
labio-
of or relating to the lips
labiodental
lacto-, lact-
of or relating to milk, lactic acid, or lactose
lacto-vegetarian,lactobacillus
-later
denoting a worshiper
idolater
-latry
denoting a kind of worship
idolatry, Mariolatry
lepto-, lept-
small; narrow
leptocephalic
leuko-, leuk-, leuco-
white
leukaemia,leukocyte
ligni, ligno-, lign-
of or relating to wood
lignify,lignocellulose
lipo-, lip-
relating to fat or lipids
liposuction,lipoprotein
litho-, lith-, -lith, -lithic, -lite
denoting or relating to a stone, a kidney stone, or a mineral
lithograph,batholith, lithotomy,sodalite
-log, -logue
denoting a discourse or compilation
dialogue,catalogue,monologue
-logist, -loger
denoting a person skilled or involved in a branch of study or art
biologist, astrologer
logo-
of or relating to words
logomachy
-logue, -log
denoting discourse or compilation of a type
catalog, dialogue

-logy, -ology, -logical, -logic

denoting or relating to a subject of study or type of speech or language
psychology, eulogy,trilogy, philological

-lysis, lyso-, lys-

denoting disintegration or decomposition
hydrolysis,haemolysis,autolysis
-lytic, -lyte
corresponding to nouns ending in -lysis
hydrolytic
macro-, macr-
long; large
macroevolution,macromolecule,macroeconomics
mal-
unpleasantly; badly; improperly; not
malodorous,malfunction,malpractice,maladroit
-mancy, -mantic
denoting or relating to divination by a specified means
geomancy,necromantic
mega-
very large; by a factor of one million
megalith,megadeath
megalo-, megal-
abnormally large or great
megaloblast,megalopolis
-meister
skilled or prominent in a specified activity
schlockmeister,gagmeister
melano-, melan-
black or dark
melanoma,melanism
mero-
partly; partial
meronym
-merous
having a specified number of (biological) parts
pentamerous
meso-, mes-
middle; intermediate
meso-America,mesomorph
meta-, met-
denoting a change; denoting position behind, after, or beyond; denoting something of a higher or second order
metamorphosis,metacarpus,metalanguage
-meter, -metric, -metrical
measuring; having a particular measure
thermometer,hexameter
-metry
denoting procedures and systems involving measurement
calorimetry,geometry
micro-, micr-
small; reduced; one millionth
micromini,microprocessor,microfarad
milli-
a thousand (chiefly denoting a factor of one thousandth)
milligram, millipede
mis-
wrongly; badly; unsuitably
misapply,mismanage,misname
-monger
dealer or trader; promoter of some activity or feeling
fishmonger,warmonger
-morph, -morphic, -morphism, morpho-
having, denoting, or relating to a specified form or character
endomorph,mesomorphic,morphological
-mycin
in names of antibiotics derived from fungi
streptomycin
myco-
relating to fungi
mycology
myo-, my-
of or relating to muscles
myocardium,myalgia
nano-
very small; denoting a factor of 10⁻⁹
nanoplankton,nanosecond
narco-
of a state of insensibility; of narcotic drugs or drug traffic
narcolepsy,narcoterrorism
naso-
of or relating to the nose
nasogastric
necro-
relating to a corpse or death
necromancy,necrophilia
neo-
new; a new or revived form
neonate,neoconservative
neuro-, neur-
relating to nerves or the nervous system
neuroanatomy,neurohormone
-nomy
an area of knowledge or the laws governing it
astronomy,gastronomy
odonto-, -odon, -odont
relating to a tooth or teeth; having teeth of a particular type
odontology,odontophore,mastodon
-oid
denoting resemblance
asteroid, rhomboid,factoid
oleo-, ole-
relating to or containing oil
oleomargarine,oleaginous
oligo-, olig-
having or involving few
oligopoly, oligarchy
-ology
see -logy
 
-oma
denoting tumors or growths
carcinoma
onco-
of or relating to tumors or cancer
oncology
-ont, ont-
denoting or relating to an individual or cell of a specified type
schizont, ontology
onto-, ont-
of or relating to existence
ontology
-onym, -onymous, -onymic
denoting or relating to names
acronym,synonymous,patronymic
oo-
of or denoting an egg or ovum
oocyte
-opia
denoting a visual disorder
myopia, presbyopia
-opsy
denoting an examination
biopsy
ornitho-, ornith-
relating to or like a bird or birds
ornithology,ornithopter
oro-
of or relating to mountains
orogeny
ortho-, orth-
straight; correct
orthodontics,orthodox
osteo-, oste-
of or relating to the bones
osteoporosis,osteopathy
oto-, ot-
of or relating to the ears
otolaryngology,otoscope
ovi-, ovo-
of or relating to eggs or ova
oviparous
oxy-, ox-
denoting sharpness; having oxygen
oxymoron,oxyacetylene
paedo-
see pedo-
 
paleo-, palaeo-
older or ancient
Palaeolithic,palaeoclimatology
pan-
all-inclusive
pan-African,pansexual,pantheistic
panto-
all; universal
pantograph,pantomime
para-, par-
beside or adjacent to; analogous to
parathyroid,paramilitary
para-
protecting or warding off
parasol, parachute
-parous
bearing offspring or reproducing in a specified manner
multiparous,viviparous
-path
practitioner of curative treatment; sufferer from a disease
homeopath,psychopath
patho-
relating to disease
pathogenesis,pathology
-pathy
denoting feelings; denoting disorder; relating to curative treatment
sympathy,neuropathy,hydropathy
-pede, -pedal
denoting or relating to the feet
centipede, bipedal

pedo-, ped-, paedo-

of or relating to a child or children
paediatric,paedophile
pedo-
of or relating to soil or soil types
pedogenic
penta-
five; having five
pentagram,pentadactyl
per-
through or all over; completely; to destruction or ill effect
pervade, perfect,pervert
peri-
round or about; nearest
pericardium,perihelion
-petal
seeking or moving toward
centripetal
petro-, petr-
of or relating to rock; relating to petroleum
petrography,petrochemical
-phagous, -phage
feeding on a particular food
coprophagous,bacteriophage
-phagy
denoting eating of a particular food
anthropophagy
-phasia
denoting a type of speech disorder
aphasia
pheno-, phen-, -phane
derived from benzene; showing
phenobarbital,phenotype
philo-, phil-, -phile
denoting a liking for a specific thing
philosopher,philanthrope,bibliophile
-phil
having a chemical affinity
acidophil
-philia, -phily
denoting (esp. abnormal) fondness or inclination
paedophilia,spasmophilia
-phobe
having a fear or dislike of something
homophobe,xenophobe
-phobia
extreme or irrational fear or dislike
arachnophobia,photophobia
-phone
denoting a sound instrument; denoting a speaker of a specific language
saxophone,francophone
phono-, phon-, -phony
relating to sound
phonograph,phonics
-phore
denoting an agent or bearer
ionophore,semaphore
photo-, phot-
relating to light; relating to photography
photosensitive,photojournalism
phren-, -phrenia, -phrenic
of or relating to the mind
phrenology,schizophrenia
phyllo-, phyll-, -phyllous
of or relating to a leaf or leaves
phyllotaxis
phylo-
of or relating to a race, tribe, or species
phylogeny
physio-, phys-
relating to nature; relating to physiology
physiocrat,physiotherapy
-phyte
denoting a plant or plantlike organism
epiphyte
phyto-
of or relating to plants
phytogeography
pisci-, pisc-
of or relating to fish
pisciculture
-plasty, -plast, -plastic
molding, grafting, or formation
rhinoplasty
pleo-, pleio-, plio-
more
pleonasm, Pliocene
pneumato-
of or containing air; relating to the spirit
pneumatophore,pneumatology
pneumo-, pneum-
of or relating to the lungs or to the presence of air or gas
pneumogastric,pneumothorax
-pod, -pode, -podous, pod-
of or like a foot
tripod, podagra
poly-
many, much
polyandry,polychrome
pre-, prae-
before
precede,precocious,preadolescent
proto-, prot-
original; primitive; first or anterior
prototype,protozoan,protogalaxy
pseudo-, pseud-
purported or false; resembling or imitating
pseudoscience,pseudohallucination
psycho-
relating to the mind or psychology
psychometrics,psychobabble
ptero-, -pter
relating to or having wings
pterosaur,helicopter
pyro-, pyr-
of or relating to fire; denoting a mineral or compound formed or affected by heat or having a fiery color
pyromania,pyrophosphate
quasi-
apparently but not really; partly or almost
quasi-scientific,quasicrystalline
radio-, radi-
denoting radio waves or broadcasting; connected with radioactivity; belonging to the radius
radiogram,radiogenic, radio-carpal
retro-
denoting backward or reciprocal action; denoting location behind
retrogression,retrosternal
rhino-
of or relating to the nose
rhinoplastic
-rrhea, -rrhoea, rheo-
discharge, flow
diarrhoea,logorrhoea,rheostat
rhodo-, rhod-
roselike, rosy
rhodochrosite,rhododendron
sapro-, sapr-
relating to putrefaction or decay
saprogenic,saprophyte
sarco-, sarc-
of or relating to flesh
sarcoma,sarcophagus
schizo-, schiz-
divided or split; relating to schizophrenia
schizocarp,schizotype
sclero-, -scler-
hard, hardened, or hardening
scleroderma,arteriosclerosis
-sect, -section
of cutting or dividing
bisect, vivisection
semi-
half; twice; partly
semicircle, semi-annual, semi-conscious
sero-
relating to serum; involving a serous membrane
serotype, serositis
sesqui-
denoting one and a half
sesquicentenary
Sino-
Chinese, Chinese and …
Sino-Soviet,Sinologist
socio-
relating to society; relating to sociology
socio-economic,sociolinguistics
somato-
of or relating to the human body
somatotype
-some
denoting a part of the body or of a cell
chromosome
somn-
of or relating to sleep
somnolent,somniferous
sono-
of or relating to sound
sonogram
spiro-
spiral or in a spiral
spirochaete
spiro-
relating to breathing
spirometer
-stasis, -static
slowing down or stopping
haemostasis
-stat
denoting instruments, etc., maintaining a controlled state
rheostat, haemostat
steno-
narrow
stenography,stenosis
stereo-
of solid forms with three dimensions; of three-dimensional effect
stereography,stereophonic
strati-, strat-
of or relating to layers or strata
stratigraphy
sub- (suc-, suf-, etc.)
lower; somewhat; secondary; supporting
subalpine,subordinate,subconscious,sublet, subvention

super-, sur-

above or beyond; to a great degree; extra large; of a higher kind
superstructure,superabundant,supercontinent,superfamily
supra-
above; beyond
suprarenal,supranational
sur-
see super-
 
syn-, sym-, syl-
united; acting or considered together
synthesis,sympathy,syllogism
tacho-, tachy-
relating to speed; rapid
tachometer;tachycardia
tauto-
same
tautology
taxo-, taxi-, tax-
of or relating to grouping or arranging
taxonomy
tele-, tel-
of or at a distance; operating over a distance; relating to television; done over the telephone
telekinesis,telemeter,televangelist,telemarketing
tetra-
four, having four
tetragram
theo-, the-
relating or God or to deities
theocentric, theistic
thermo-, -therm, -thermy
relating to heat
thermodynamics
-tome
denoting an instrument for cutting; denoting a section or fragment
microtome,myotome
-tomy
cutting
episiotomy
topo-, top-
of or relating to places or forms
topography,topology
toxi-, toxico-, toxo-, -toxic
of or relating to poisons
toxicology
trans-
across or beyond; on or to the other side; through; going beyond
transcontinental,transalpine,transonic,transform,transcendent
-trix
denoting a woman (where a man would be denoted -tor)
executrix,dominatrix
-trophic
relating to nutrition; relating to maintenance or regulation
oligotrophic,gonadotrophic
-tropic, trop-
turning toward; affecting; maintaining or regulating
heliotropic,psychotropic
ultra-
beyond; extreme
ultramontane,ultraconservative
ur-
primitive, original, or earliest
urtext
urano-, uran-
relating to the heavens; relating to uranium
uranography,uraninite
-urgy, -urge
of work; one who works
thaumaturgy,demiurge
-uria
designating that a substance is present in the urine, esp. in excess
phenylketonuria
uro-
of or relating to urine or the urinary organs
urogenital
vaso-, vas-
of or relating to vessels, esp. blood vessels
vasodilation
vermi-
relating to or like a worm
vermiform
-vorous, -vore
feeding on
carnivorous,omnivore
xeno-, xen-
relating to foreigners; other or different
xenophobia,xenograft
xero-, xer-
dry
xeroderma,xeriscaping
xylo-, xyl-
of or relating to wood
xylophagous,xylophone
zoo-
of animals; relating to animal life
zoogeography
zygo-
relating to joining or pairing
zygodactyl

 

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