Latin and Greek in Biology
Mrs. Penning
Mr. McFadden
Biology
St. Paul Public
Schools
1
How does it work in science?

Latin and Greek
prefixes, suffixes,
and root words can
be used to make an
infinite amount of
words
2
Why were Latin and (old) Greek
chosen for scientific terminology?


Both are more
descriptive than
English (as well as
lots of other
languages)
Both are old (“dead”)
languages that are
unspoken and won’t
change
3
Overview
micro
Bio
geo
myo
eco
ren
aqu
a
epi
itis
4
#. Prefix/Suffix/Root

Meaning

Examples
5
1) bio

“life”
biology, biologist, biosphere,
biotechnology, biotic, biography,
bioluminescence, biodiversity,
symbiosis
6
2) -ology

“the study of”

biology, geology,
dermatology,
zoology
7
3) -ologist

“person who studies”

biologist, geologist,
zoologist
8
4) scien
“to know; knowing”

science, scientist,
scientific, omniscient,
conscience
9
5) geo
“earth or rock”

geology, geologist,
geotropism
10
6) -sphere

“globe or ball”

spherical,
biosphere,
atmosphere
11
7) gen-, -gen

“to bring to life; to
create”

genesis, generator,
generation, genetics,
gene, antigen,
mutagen, carcinogen
12
8) non-, in-, un
“not”

nonliving, nonverbal,
nonviolent, nonpolar,
inactive, inefficient,
intangible, unhealthy,
unable
13
9) cyto-, -cyte

“cell”

cytology, cytologist,
leukocyte, erythrocyte,
endocytosis,
exocytosis, osteocyte
14
10) -scope

“instrument or tool”

microscope, telescope,
stethoscope, periscope,
colonoscopy
15
11) micro
“very small”

microbe, microscope,
microbiology, microtubule
16
12) uni
“one”

unicycle, unibrow,
uniform, unite,
unicellular
17
13) multi
“many”

multicultural,
multi-talented,
multi-tasking,
multicellular
18
14) cardi
“heart”

‘cardiac’ arrest,
cardiovascular,
pericardium
19
15) myo
“muscle”

myocyte, myosin,
myocardium,
myopathy
20
16) hema-, hemo
“blood”

hemoglobin, hemophilia,
hematoma, hemolysis,
hematite
21
17) cereb
“brain”

cerebrum, cerebral,
cerebellum
22
18) gastro
“stomach”

gastrointestinal, gastric
juices, gastritis
23
19) hepato
“liver”

hepatitis, hepatic,
hepatectomy
24
20) nephro
“kidney”

nephron, nephritis,
nephrotomy
25
21) ren
“kidney”

renal (failure), rennin,
renal
26
22) pulmo
“lung”

pulmonary, CPR
(cardiopulmonary
resuscitation)
27
23) epi
“upon or above”

epidermis, epicenter,
epiglottis, epidemic,
epithelial (tissue),
epiphyte
28
24) -derm
“skin or covering”

dermatologist,
epidermis, endoderm,
echinoderm
29
25) -itis

“inflammation of ; swelling”

dermatitis, gingivitis,
hepatitis, conjunctivitis,
endocarditis
30
26) osteo
“bone”

osteoporosis, osteology,
osteocyte, periosteum
31
27) eco
“habitat; environment”

ecology, ecosystem,
ECOLAB
32
28) aqua
“water”

aquarium, aquatic,
aquatennial
33
29) terra
“earth; land”

terrace, terrarium,
terrestrial, terra firma
34
30) inter
“between”

interview, intersection,
interoffice (memo),
interphase,
interdependent,
intervertebral
35
31) intra
“within”

intravenous,
intrauterine
device (IUD),
intracellular
36
32) extra
“outside, beyond”

extraordinary,
extravaganza,
extracurricular,
extraterrestrial (E.T.),
extracellular (digestion),
extrapolate
37
33) sym-/syn 
“together/with”

symphony,
sympathy,
symbiosis,
synthetic,
synapse,
synchronize
38
34) ism
“belief/ theory”

materialism, sexism,
racism, parasitism,
mutualism,
commensalism,
gradualism
39
35) macro
“larger”

macroscopic,
macromolecule,
macroeconomics
40
36) carbo
“containing carbon”

carbon dioxide,
carbohydrate,
carbonize, carbonic
(acid)
41
37) mon-, mono
“one”

monopoly,
monologue,
monotone, monorail,
monarchy, monomer,
monosomy, monocot
42
38) di
“two”

division, dialogue,
diploid, dihybrid,
dichotomous, dicot
43
39) sacch
“sugar”

saccharin,
monosaccharide,
disaccharide
44
40) poly
“many”

polygon, polygraph,
polymer,
polysaccharide,
polypeptide,
polygenic (trait)
45
41) lip“fat, oil, wax”
 liposuction, lipid,
lipid bilayer

46
42) -ose
 “fullness,
origin”
(generally in biology refers to a “sugar or
starch”)

sucrose, dextrose,
glucose, lactose,
cellulose
47
43) lact-, lacto
“milk”

lactose (intolerant),
lactate, lactobacillus,
lactase
48
44) oxy
“containing oxygen, O”

carbon dioxide (CO2),
oxygenate,
deoxygenate
49
45) de
“removing”

denature (proteins),
deoxyribose sugar,
DeoxyriboNucleic Acid
(DNA), decompose
50
46) -ase

(generally in biology
refers to “an enzyme
to break down an –
ose”)

cellulase, lactase, salivary
amylase, sucrase
51
47) homo-, homeo
“like, same, similar”

homosexual, homogeneous,
homeostasis, homozygous,
homologous
52
48) therm-, -therm

“heat”

thermometer, ectotherm,
endotherm
53
49) neuro
“nerve”

neuron, neurology,
neurotransmitter
54
50) photo“light”
 photograph,
photosynthesis,
phototropic

55
51) –graph“writing (picture)”
 photograph,
biography, polygraph,
graphite

56
52) phospho“contains phosphorus – P”
 phosphate, phospholipid

57
53) hydro“water”
 hydroelectric (dam),
hydrant, dehydrate,
hydrophobic, hydrophilic,
hydrolysis, hydroponics

58
54) –philos, -philic
“loving”
 hydrophilic, philharmonic, philately,
philosophy

59
55) –phobia, -phobos
“fearing”
 arachnophobic, claustrophobic,
hydrophobic, xenophobia

60
56) bi“two”
 bicycle, binoculars, bifocals, bipolar, lipid
bilayer, binomial name, binary fission,
bilateral, bipedal

61
57) -plasm
“jelly-like substance; fluid”
 cytoplasm, nucleoplasm, protoplasm

62
58) chrom“colored”
 chromosome, chromatography

63
59) soma-, -some
“body”
 somatic cell, chromosome, lysosome

64
60) pro“for or before”
 prolife, prochoice, prokaryote

65
61) -kary“nucleus”
 prokaryote, eukaryote

66
62) eu“true, real or good”
 eukaryote, eubacteria

67
63) endo“inner”
 endoderm, endotherm, endosperm

68
64) ecto“outer”
 ectoderm, ectotherm, ectoplasm

69
65) mito“thread-like”
 mitochondria, mitosis

70
66) -lys“break open”
 Lysol, analysis, lysosome, hydrolysis,
lysogenic, catalysis

71
67) chlor“green”
 chlorophyll, chloroplast

72
68) –phyll
“leaf”
 chlorophyll, microphyll

73
69) leuco-, leuko“white”
 leukemia, leukocyte

74
70) erythro“red”
 erythrocyte, erythromycin

75
71) -plast
“particle”
 chloroplast, leucoplast

76
72) semi“part(ly)”
 semisweet, semicolon, semiautomatic,
semicircle, semi-permeable

77
73) per“through”
 perennial, permeate,
semi-permeable

78
74) hyper“over or beyond”
 hyperactive, hyperthermia, hyperextended,
hypertension, hypertonic

79
75) iso“equal”
 isosceles triangle, isotope, isomer, isotonic

80
76) hypo“under or less than”
 hypothermia, hypodermic (needle),
hypotonic

81
77) exo“outer”
 exit, exon, exoskeleton, exocytosis

82
78) -osis
“process”
 symbiosis, exocytosis, endocytosis,
osmosis

83
79) tri“three”
 triangle, tricycle,
tripod, adenosine
triphosphate (ATP)

84
80) auto“self or itself”
 autotroph,
automatic,
autograph,
autobiography

85
82) –troph“feeder, feeding”
 autotroph,
heterotroph,
trophic
level,…trophy…

86
81) hetero“different”
 heterosexual,
heterogeneous,
heterotroph,
heterozygous

87
83) synthesis
“make or
produce”
 photosynthesis,
chemosynthesis

88
84) a-, an“without”
 abiotic, asexual,
acellular,
amorphous,
anaerobic

89
85) ) centr“central”
 centerpiece,
egocentric,
ethnocentric,
centrioles,
centromere

90
86) meta“along with many”
 metabolism,
metamorphosis,
metaphase

91
87) tele-, telo“far away; end”
 telephone, telegraph,
telepathy, telophase

92
88) –oid
“like or resembling”
 spheroid, asteroid, haploid, diploid,
humanoid, anthropoid

93
89) meio“less, decrease”
 meiosis

94
90) gameto“reproductive germ cell”
 gamete, gametogenesis, gametocyte

95
91) germ
“seed, sprig”
 germ cell, germinate,
germicide, wheat
germ

96
92) –filia-, -filius“daughter/son”
 affiliation, first filial (F1), second filial (F2)

97
93) –zyg“tied together”
 zygote,
homozygous,
heterozygous

98
94) co“with or together”
 cooperation, coworker, co-ed, cohesion,
codominant, coevolution

99
95) heli“spiral, screw”
 helicopter, helical, “double helix” (DNA)

100
96) trans“across”
 transport, transplant, transatlantic (flight),
transaction, transcription, translation,
translocation

101
97) septi“rotted”
 septic tank, antiseptic, aseptic, septicemia

102
98) anti“against”
 antibacterial, antibiotic, antiseptic, antiinflammatory, anti-social, anti-perspirant,
antigen, anticodon

103
99) muta“change”
 mutilate, mutation,
mutate, mutable,
mutagen

104
100) onco“cancer”
 oncology, oncologist, oncogene

105
101) carcin“cancer”
 carcinogen, carcinoma

106
102) radia

“go out from; spread
out”
radiate, radial
(symmetry),
radioactive,
(adaptive) radiation
107
103) taxi

“arrangement”
taxidermy, taxonomy,
taxonomist
108
104) phyl

“tribe or class
(grouping)”
phylum, phylogeny,
phylogenetic tree
109
105) nomen-, nomin

“name”
nominate, misnomer,
nomenclature,
binomial
nomenclature
110
106) onto


“being”
ontogeny, ontology,
ontological
“Ontogeny capitulates
phylogeny.”
111
107) viru

“slime, ooze
(poison)”
virus, virology,
virulent
112
108) retro

“backward”
(in) retrospect,
retrospective,
retrograde, retrovirus
113
109) vacc

“cow”
vaccine, vaccination,
vaccinal
114
110) -patho(s)

“disease or suffer”
pathetic, empathy,
psychopath,
pathology, pathogen
115
111) bac“rod or stick”
 bacteria, bacillus,
bacteriocide

116
112) -cide


“to kill”
homicide, suicide,
insecticide, pesticide,
herbicide
117
113) -cocc

“round”
streptococcus,
pneumococcus
118
114) spire

“coil”
spiral, spirillum
119
115) archae

“ancient, original”
archaic, archaeology,
archaebacteria,
archaeopteryx
120
116) proto

“first”
prototype,
protoplasm, protozoa
121
117) zo

“animal”
zoo, zoology,
zoologist, protozoa
122
118) pseudo

“false”
pseudonym,
pseudoscience,
pseudopod
123
119) -ped(e)-, -pod

“foot, leg”
pedestrian, pedal,
pedicure, expedition,
centipede, millipede,
bipedal, podiatrist,
pseudopod,
gastropod
124
120) -morph

“form, shape”
metamorphosis,
metamorphic,
amorphous, polymorphic
125
121) –flagel

“whip”
flagellum,
flagella,
zooflagellate
126
122) cilia

“little hairs”
cilium, cilia, ciliophoran
127
123) fung

“mushroom, toadstool”
fungus, fungi, fungal,
fungicide
128
124) myco“fungus”
 mycology, mycologist,
mycobacterium

129
125) rhizo

“root”
rhizome, rhizoid,
Rhizopus nigrans
(bread mold),
rhizopod
130
126) amphi

“both; two kinds”
amphibian,
amphibious,
amphipod,
amphibolite
131
127) herpe

“reptile, snake”
herpetology,
herpetologist
132
128) icthy

“fish”
ichthyology,
icthyologist, icthyoid
133
129) ornitho“bird”
 ornithology,
ornithologist

134
130) avi

“bird”
aviation, avian,
aviary, aviculture
135
131) herba

“grass, herb, leafy
portion”
herbal, herbivore,
herbaceous, herbicide
136
132) carni

“flesh”
carnivore, carnal,
carnival
137
133) omni

“many”
omnitheatre,
omnivore,
omnipotent
138
134) -vore

“eating; to devour”
voracious, carnivore,
herbivore, omnivore
139
That’s All Folks
140
Summary

Tests and quizzes to follow
141
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