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four word parts

1. Word root 2. Suffix 3. Prefix 4. Combining vowel

word root

The word root is the word part that is the core of the word. The word root contains the fundamental meaning of the word. The word root is the core of the word; therefore, each medical term contains one or more word roots. hepat


The suffix is a word part attached to the end of the word root to modify its meaning. The suffix is used to modify the meaning of a word. Most medical terms have a suffix. itis


The prefix is a word part attached to the beginning of a word root to modify its meaning. A prefix can be used to modify the meaning of a word. Many medical terms do not have a prefix. sub

combining vowel

The combining vowel is a word part, usually an o, used to ease pronunciation. The combining vowel is placed to connect two word roots. Placed to connect a word root and a suffix. Not placed to connect a prefix and a word root. The combining vowel is used to ease pronunciation; therefore not all medical terms have combining vowels. Medical terms introduced throughout the text hat have combining vowels other than o are highlighted at their introduction. hepat/o

four guidelines for using combining vowels

1. When connecting a word root and a suffix, a combining vowel is used if the suffix does not begin with a vowel. arthr/o/parthy 2. When connecting a word root and a suffix, a combining vowel is usually not used if the suffix begins with a vowel. hepat/ic 3.When connecting two word roots, a combining vowel is usually used even if vowels are present at the junction. oste/o/arthr/itis 4. When connecting a prefix and a word root, a combining vowel is not used. sub/hepat/ic

combining form

A combining form is a word root with a combining vowel attached, separated by a vertical slash. The combining form is not a word part per se; rather it is the word root and the combining vowel. Wood roots are presented as combining forms throughout the text.

defining medical terms

To define medical terms, apply the meaning of each word part contained in the term. 1. Begin by defining the suffix. 2. Then move to the beginning of the term to complete the definition. Most medical terms built from word parts can be defined by beginning with the meaning of the suffix; however, this does not always apply.


osteo/o/arthr/o/pathy disease of the bone and joint








pertaining to


pertaining to










combining vowel


arthr/itis inflammation of the joint


hepat/itis inflammation of the liver


sub/hepat/ic pertaining to under the liver


intra/ven/ous pertaining to within the vein


arthr/o/pathy disease of the joint


oste/itis inflammation of the bone


hepat/o/megaly enlargement of the liver

building medical terms

To build medical terms, place word parts together to form words. Keep in mind that the beginning of the definition usually indicates the suffix.


hepat/ic pertaining to the liver


oste/o/arthr/itis inflammation of the bone and joint

techniques for learning medical terms built from words

analyzing - dividing medical terms into word parts, then labeling each word part and combining form. defining - applying the meaning of each word part contained in the medical term to derive it beginning. building - placing word parts together to form words.

Greek and Latin

Terms built from Greek and Latin word parts such as arthritis.


Terms derived from the name of a person, often a physician or scientist who was the first to identify a condition or technique such as Parkinson disease.


Terms formed from the first letters of the words in a phrase such as laser (light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation).

modern language

Terms derived from the English language such as nuclear medicine scanner.

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