Medical Terminology
Chapter 1, 2 and 3
Medicine Has a Language
of Its Own
Current medical vocabulary includes terms
built from Greek and Latin word parts,
eponyms, acronyms, and terms from
modern language
The Components of Medical Terms
Medical terms are like individual
jigsaw puzzles. They consist of
(prefixes, combining forms, and
suffixes) that make each term
unique.
Once you understand the basic
medical term structure and how
these components fit together,
you will be able to “build” almost
any medical term.
Basic Elements of a Medical
Word
1.
2.
3.
4.
Word Root
Combining Form
Suffix
Prefix
4 Word Parts
Word Root: Fundamental meaning of a
medical term
Prefix: Attached to beginning of a medical
term to modify its meaning
Suffix: Attached to end of a medical term to
modify its meaning
Combining Vowel: Used to ease
pronunciation - usually an “o” (e, i, or u)
Prefix
• The Word or element attached to the
beginning of a word root to modify its
meaning
• Not all medical words have a prefix
• A prefix will always have the same
meaning in every term in which it is used
Prefixes
• A prefix is a syllable or syllables placed
BEFORE a word or word root to alter its
meaning or create a new word.
Some prefixes:
Hyper- (excessive)
Pre(before)
Post(after)
Homo- (same)
Hypo(under)
Word Root
•
•
•
•
•
•
The meaning or core part of the word
Also known as the foundation of the word
Usually derived from Greek or Latin
Usually refers to body part
Medical terms have one or more roots.
Has the same meaning in every word that
contains it
Word Root Examples:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Gastr
Cardi
Arthr
Cephal
Cyt
Gyne
Lingua
Thyr
Stomach
Heart
Joint
Head
Cell
Woman
Tongue
Thyroid
Word Root Examples
•
•
•
•
•
“dent” means tooth
“dermat” means skin
“cardi” means heart
“gastr” means stomach
“pancreat” means pancreas
Suffixes
• A suffix is added to the END of a word root
or combining form to modify its meaning.
• By adding a suffix to the end of a word
root, we create a noun or adjective with a
different meaning.
Combining Forms
• Correct pronunciation of medical words is
important.
• In order to make the pronunciation of word
roots easier, sometimes it is necessary to
insert a vowel after the root.
• The combination of a word root and a
vowel is known as a COMBINING FORM.
Combining Vowel
•
•
•
•
•
Usually an ‘o’ and occasionally an ‘I’
Can be between word roots
Makes pronunciation easier
Can be between word roots and a suffix
Has no meaning of its own
• When a vowel is added to a root
word, it is called a combining form
Some Basic Rules
• All medical terms have at least one word root
• Not all medical terms have a prefix, suffix, or
combining vowel
• Combining vowels are used to connect word roots
or word root and suffix
• When a suffix begins with a vowel, the combining
vowel is not used
Example: arthritis (“o”)
Denotation of word parts:
• Prefix
When printed in a list , prefixes are denoted
by a dash following the prefix
a-, an-,
means no, not, without
ex-, exo-,
means out, away from
polymeans many, much, excessive
suprameans above, beyond
Contd:
• Word Root:
• When a vowel is added to a word root ,it is
usually marked with a diagonal,
abdomin/o
enter/o
Lapar/o
pertaining to the abdomen
pertaining to the intestines
pertaining to the abdominal
wall
Contd:
• Suffix:
• Suffixes are denoted by a hyphen in
front of the suffix when they are
standing alone
-itis
means inflammation
-megaly means enlargement
-plegia means paralysis
Reading A Medical Term
When reading a medical term and
attempt to decipher it’s meaning you :
• Begin at the Suffix
• Move to the Prefix (if present)
• And then the root
Singular and plural endings
• Many medical terms come from Greek or
Latin words.
• Rules for forming plurals come from these
languages.
• Other words use English rules.
• Each medical term must be considered
individually when changing from singular
to plural.
Pronunciation Guidelines
• Pronunciation of medical word
• May be exactly like it sounds
– Example: febrile = ‘f’ sound, begins
with ‘f’
• May begin with a letter, or letters that
produces the same phonetic sound
– Example: physiology = ‘f’ sound,
begins with ‘ph’
Pronunciation Guidelines
(continued)
• If it sounds like ‘f’
– Look for ‘f’ = febrile
– Look for ‘ph’ = physiology
• If it sounds like ‘j’
–
–
–
–
Look for ‘j’ = jejunum
Look for ‘ge’ = genesis
Look for ‘gi’ = gingivitis
Look for ‘gy’ = gyrus
Pronunciation Guidelines
(continued)
• If it sounds like ‘k’
– Look for ‘k’ = kyphosis
– Look for ‘c’ = cornea
– Look for ‘ch’ = chorion
– Look for ‘qu’ = quadruplet
• If it sounds like ‘n’
– Look for ‘n’ = neonatal
– Look for ‘pn’ = pneumonia
– Look for ‘kn’ = knee
Pronunciation Guidelines
(continued)
• If it sounds like ‘z’
– Look for ‘z’ = zygomatic
– Look for ‘x’ = xanthoma
Additional Pronunciation Rules
• Words that begin with ‘c’
– If followed by ‘e’, ‘i’, or ‘y’
– Pronounced as soft ‘c’
– Has ‘j’ sound
• Examples
– ‘ce’ = cervix
– ‘ci’ = circumduction
– ‘cy’ = cyst
Additional Pronunciation Rules
(continued)
• Words that begin with ‘c’
– If followed by ‘a’, ‘o’, ‘u’, or consonant
– Pronounced as hard ‘c’
– Has a ‘k’ sound
• Examples
–
–
–
–
‘ca’ = cancer
‘co’ = collagen
‘cu’ = cuticle
‘ch’ = cheiloplasty
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Medical Terminology - Napa Valley College