Guide to Common Medical TerminologyThere are some helpful techniques you can use to increase your understanding of medicalterminology. Most medical terms contain at least one root, and they may also contain one ormore prefixes or suffixes. This handout will describe how word parts create meaning to providea strategy for decoding medical terminology and unfamiliar words in the English language.Word PartsIf all three word parts are present in medical terminology, they will be in the order of prefix root word suffix. Look at the following example to understand the function of each wordpart:anti-bacteri-alThe prefix, or the letter orgroup of letters before theroot word, is anti-, whichmeans “against” or“opposed to.”The root word, orthe word part thatprovides the basicmeaning of theword, is bacteri,which means“bacteria.”The suffix, or the letter orgroup of letters after theroot word, is -al, whichmeans “pertaining to.”As you can see, even if you have never heard of the word “antibacterial,” the word partsprovide clues that it is something that protects against bacteria. Therefore, it can be helpful totake into consideration the meaning of word parts, in addition to the context of the sentence orparagraph that the word is in, to decipher an unfamiliar word’s meaning. Also, keep in mindthat while many medical terms contain all three word parts, others will contain varyingcombinations such as root/suffix, prefix/root, prefix/suffix, etc. Some words will even containtwo roots, such as osteoarthritis (osteo bone, arthr joint). Now let’s look at some of themost common roots, prefixes, and suffixes used in the different body systems.Provided byThe Academic Center for Excellence1Guide to Common Medical TerminologyDecember 2020

The Body’s OrganizationThe body is organized by cells, tissues, organs, and systems.Word Part: RootMeaningWord Part: PrefixMeaninganter/ofront, anteriorepi-uponcerv/oneckhypo-below or ogroinWord Part: SuffixMeaningmy/omuscle-algiapainmyel/ospinal cord-cytecellneur/onerve, neuron-edemawatery fluid in tissuesposter/oposterior, back-icpertaining toproxim/onear-iumstructure or tissuesarcflesh-oidresemblance tosuper/osuperior-omatumorNote: There are additional roots, prefixes, and suffixes that are not included within the tablesthroughout this handout; however, the examples will demonstrate how the word parts can beanalyzed to determine the meaning of a word.Example Terms:epigastric hypogastric epi (upon) gastr (stomach) ic (pertaining to)area just above the stomachhypo (below) gastr (stomach) ic (pertaining to)pertaining to below the stomachProvided byThe Academic Center for Excellence2Guide to Common Medical TerminologyDecember 2020

The Integumentary SystemThis system, which protects the body from various kinds of damage, includes the skin, hair,nails, and sebaceous and sudoriferous glands.Word Part: RootMeaningWord Part: PrefixMeaningalbin/owhitean-withoutcirrh/o, an/oblueepi-uponcyt/ocellhyper-above normalderm/o/at/atoskinpara-alongside of or abnormalerythr/oredsub-below or underferoto carryichthy/odry, scaly (fishlike)Word Part: -logystudyseb/osebum (oil; y-osisabnormal conditionxanth/oExample Term:scleroderma sclero (hardening) derma (skin)chronic hardening and thickening of the skinProvided byThe Academic Center for Excellence3Guide to Common Medical TerminologyDecember 2020

The Skeletal SystemThe skeleton, which includes all the bones and joints, is the basic structure of our body.Word Part: RootMeaningWord Part: PrefixMeaningankyl/ostiff, fused, closedamphi-both sidesarthr/ojointsyn-joined togetherbrachi/oarmzygo-joined (yoked) togethercervic/oneckcheir/ohandWord Part: gramwritten record ofdactyl/ofinger, toe-itisinflammationlumb/olower back-kinesiamovementmyel/obone marrow-malaciasofteningorth/ocorrect, straight-osisconditionos/te/obone-plastysurgical repairped/ofoot, child-porosisporousscoli/otwisted-scopyto visually examinethorac/othorax, chest-sisconditionExample Terms:osteoarthritis osteo (bone) arthr (joint) itis (inflammation)degeneration of joint cartilage and the underlying bonescoliosis Provided byThe Academic Center for Excellencescolio (twisted) sis (condition)lateral curvature of he spine4Guide to Common Medical TerminologyDecember 2020

The Muscular SystemThis system, which is responsible for movement, posture, and control of certain circulatoryfunctions, is made up of skeletal, smooth, and cardiac muscles.Word Part: RootMeaningWord Part: PrefixMeaningcardi/ohearta-deficientfasci/ofibrous mentpara-beside, beyond, ghtWord Part: al conditiontend/o, tendin/otendon-paresispartial paralysiston/otone-plegiaparalysisExample Terms:fibromyalgia fibro (fiber) my (muscle) algia (pain)a disorder that causes widespread pain and tenderness to touchhemiplegia Provided byThe Academic Center for Excellencehemi (half) plegia (paralysis)paralysis of one side of the body5Guide to Common Medical TerminologyDecember 2020

The Nervous SystemThis system, which is made up of the central and peripheral nervous system, coordinates thebody’s involuntary and voluntary actions.Word Part: RootMeaningWord Part: PrefixMeaningcephal/oheadan-withoutcerebell/othe cerebellumdi-twocerebr/othe cerebrum; the brainhemi-halfcortic/oouter layer or coveringmyel/o-bone marrow; spinalcordencephal/obrainesthesi/osensationWord Part: SuffixMeaninggli/oglue-iacondition ofhydr/owater-itisinflammationiatr/ophysician; to treat-mnesiamemorymeningi/oa membrane-oidlikement/oreferring to the mind-paresisweakness, loss ofmovementschiz/oto split-phasiaspeechpsych/oreferring to the mind-plegiaparalysisExample Terms:anesthesia an (without) esthesi (sensation) ia (condition of)a condition of absence of sensationencephalitis Provided byThe Academic Center for Excellenceencephal (brain) itis (inflammation)inflammation of the brain6Guide to Common Medical TerminologyDecember 2020

The Endocrine SystemThis system, which consists of glands that produce hormones, works with the nervous systemto maintain the body’s homeostasis.Word Part: RootMeaningWord Part: PrefixMeaningacr/oextremitiesanti-against or opposed toaden/oglandepi-uponadren/o, adrenal/oadrenal glandshypo-below or deficientcalc/icalciumpara-alongside of orabnormalcrin/oto separate or secreteendocrin/oendocrineWord Part: SuffixMeaninggluc/o, glyc/o/ssugar, ry parathyr/o,parathyroid yr/o, thyroid/othyroid gland-uriaurineExample Terms:glycosuria thyroiditis glycos (sugar) uria (urine)sugar in the urinethyroid (thyroid gland) itis (inflammation)inflammation of the thyroid glandProvided byThe Academic Center for Excellence7Guide to Common Medical TerminologyDecember 2020

The Cardiovascular SystemThis system, which carries oxygen and nutrients through the blood, includes the heart, blood,and blood vessels.Word Part: RootMeaningWord Part: -slowather/ofattyendo-inner, insideatri/oatriumepi-uponcardi/ohearthypo-below or deficientcoron/ocrown; encirclingperi-around, surroundinghem/o, hemat/obloodtachy-fastischrestricted, narrowedtri-threemy/omuscleox/ooxygenWord Part: ot-emiablood hydiseaseven/ovein-stenosisa narrowingExample Terms:bradycardia hypoxemia brady (slow) cardi (heart) ia (condition)abnormally slow heartbeathypo (below or deficient) ox (oxygen) emia (blood condition)low level of oxygen in bloodProvided byThe Academic Center for Excellence8Guide to Common Medical TerminologyDecember 2020

The Lymphatic System and ImmunityThe lymphatic system is responsible for protecting the body from infection, maintaining abalance of fluids, and absorbing fats. It also consists of organs, tissues, and vessels.Word Part: RootMeaningWord Part: PrefixMeaningaden/oglandanti-against or opposed tohem/obloodauto-selfimmun/oimmune lymph nodesmicro-smalllymphangi/olymph vesselslymph/o, lymphat/olymph or lymphaticWord Part: /oingest or mentthym/othymus-osiscondition oftonsill/olymph node, usually-pathydiseasepalatine tonsilExample Terms:lymphedema lymph (lymph or lymphatic system) edema (swelling)lymph tissue swellingtonsillitis Provided byThe Academic Center for Excellencetonsill (tonsils) itis (inflammation)inflammation of a tonsil9Guide to Common Medical TerminologyDecember 2020

The Respiratory SystemThis system, which supplies oxygen to the cells and removes carbon dioxide, consists of thenose, pharynx, larynx, bronchi, bronchioles, alveoli, and lungs.Word Part: RootMeaningWord Part: PrefixMeaningbronch/o, nas/o, rhin/onosebronch/o-, bronch/i-bronchusor/omouth, openingdys-difficultox/ooxygenhypo-below or deficientphren/odiaphragmsuper-, supra-above or excessivepleur/opleurapneum/o, pneumon/oair, lungWord Part: SuffixMeaningpulmon/olung-iacondition ofsinus/osinus cavity-oxiaoxygenthorac/o, thorac/i,thorax, ache/oExample Terms:apnea hypoxia a (without) pnea (breathing)absence of breathinghypo (below or deficient) ox (oxygen) ia (condition of)low level of oxygen in tissueProvided byThe Academic Center for Excellence10Guide to Common Medical TerminologyDecember 2020

The Digestive SystemThis system, which allows the body to absorb nutrients from food and fluids, consists of thetract from the oral cavity to the anus.Word Part: RootMeaningWord Part: t/i, dent/oteethenter/ointestineWord Part: -emesisvomitgloss/otongue-iacondition ofhepat/oliver-lithstonephag/oeating, swallowing-pepsiadigestionproct/oanus and rectum-phagiaeat or swallowsial/osalivary glands-scopedevice for visualexaminationstomat/omouth-scopyvisual examinationExample Terms:dysphagia dys (difficulty) phag (eating, swallowing) ia (condition of)excessive vomitinghyperemesis Provided byThe Academic Center for Excellencehyper (excessive) emesis (vomit)excessive vomiting11Guide to Common Medical TerminologyDecember 2020

The Urinary SystemThis system, which removes wastes and toxins from the body, consists of the kidneys, ureters,urinary bladder, and urethra.Word Part: RootMeaningWord Part: erulusdys-difficultlith/ostoneperi-aroundnephr/o, ren/okidneypoly-much, manynoct/onightretro-backward, behindolig/olittle, fewpy/opusWord Part: SuffixMeaningpyel/opelvis-algiapainur/o, e Terms:dysuria dys (difficult) ur (urine) ia (condition)difficult or painful urinationnephrectomy Provided byThe Academic Center for Excellencenephr (kidney) ectomy (removal)surgical removal of a kidney12Guide to Common Medical TerminologyDecember 2020

The Reproductive SystemThis system, which allows us to perpetuate life, includes the reproductive organs.Word Part: RootMeaningWord Part: PrefixMeaningbalan/oglans penisa-withoutcervic/ocervixdys-painful, difficultcircum/oaroundhydro-watercolp/o, vagin/ovaginaneo-newgonad/ogonads, sex glandspre-, pro-beforegynec/owoman, femalere-againlact/omilkmast/o, mamm/obreastWord Part: h-ectomyexcisionoophor/o, ooovary, at/oprostate gland-pathydiseasesalping/otube, fallopian tube-plastysurgical repairuter/o, hyster/o,uterus-rrheaflowing, dischargevessel, vas deferens-steronesteroid hormonemetr/ovas/oExample Terms:dysmenorrhea dys (painful) meno (menstruation) rrhea (discharge)painful menstruationhysterectomy Provided byThe Academic Center for Excellencehyster (uterus) ectomy (excision)removal of the uterus13Guide to Common Medical TerminologyDecember 2020

Sense of Sight and HearingCertain root words are associated with the organs that process sight and sound.Sense of SightWord Part: PrefixMeaningWord Part: tears, lacrimaextra-outsidedipl/otwo, doublehyper-above normalocul/oeyepresby-oldopt/olight, eye, visionsensor-sensoryretin/oretinaWord Part: SuffixMeaning-celeherniaSense of HearingWord Part: RootMeaning-ectomyexcision or removalacous/o, acus/o, oneaur/oear-opiaeye, lling or Example Terms:diplopia retinitis Provided byThe Academic Center for Excellencedipl (double) opia (vision)double visionretin (retina) itis (inflammation)inflammation of the retina14Guide to Common Medical TerminologyDecember 2020

Additional ResourcesTo provide you with additional practice to learn medical terminology, the Academic Center forExcellence suggests using the following resources: Nursing Root Words 838This site can help you learn nursing terminology root words using a variety of methodsincluding flashcards, matching games, hangman, crossword puzzles, and quizzes. Medical Terminology Prefix/Suffix/Root Word Quizzes terminology/default.htmlOn this site, you can practice medical terminology prefixes, suffixes, and root wordswith short quizzes. Pronunciation Guide for Medical nciationsStudents can click on selected medical terminology to hear the correct pronunciation. Body Systems rddecklistOn this site, nursing students can use flashcards to learn medical terms andabbreviations organized by body systems. The PenguinProf Medical Terminology Video 3fiEszFPRE8This video simplifies breaking down medical terminology by prefixes, roots, and suffixesand provides visual aids, along with the explanations. OchsNurse Medical Terminology Video Ul2lRQGuhwcIn this video, you will learn how to break down common medical terminology withsimple, straightforward explanations.Provided byThe Academic Center for Excellence15Guide to Common Medical TerminologyDecember 2020

Adonis Health Informatics 1-Minute Medical Terminology DiUCosGD-lnA/featuredThese short one-minute videos present medical terminology with visual aids andexplanations that make them fun and easy to remember. Playlist categories include:Medical Terminology for Beginners, Medical Terminology for Body Parts, CommonMedical Prefixes, and Common Medical Suffixes. The Language of Medicine by Davi-Ellen Chabner and Evolve Study 80323370813?role studentThis book includes colorful illustrations, practical exercises, pronunciation guides, andcontent reviews. The chapters are organized by body systems, and words are brokendown into simple explanations by prefixes, roots, and suffixes. The Evolve StudyResource that accompanies the book can be used online to do interactive activities,games, quizzes, and flash cards. Medical Terminology: A Short Course by Davi-Ellen Chabner and Evolve t/9780323444927?role studentIn this book, you will be guided through the process of learning the most commonprefixes, roots, and suffixes by labeling diagrams, practicing pronunciation, andcompleting reviews. Case studies demonstrate how the medical terms are used inpractice. There is also an English to Spanish glossary to help Spanish-speaking studentstranslate common medical terms. This book provides access to the Evolve website,which includes word games, learning exercises, audio pronunciations, animations, ananatomy coloring book, and electronic flash cards.Charts adapted from Collins, C. E. (2014) A short course in medical terminology (3rd ed.).Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.Provided byThe Academic Center for Excellence16Guide to Common Medical TerminologyDecember 2020

a strategy for decoding medical terminology and unfamiliar words in the English language. Word Parts If all three word parts are present in medical terminology, they will be in the order of prefix . muscul/o muscle quadri- four my/o muscle orth/o straight Word Part: Suffix Meaning oste/o bone -algia pain pedics child -dynia pain scler/o .