Most Useful Biological Prefixes and Suffixes for the Biology Olympiad

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Students preparing for the biology olympiad should be able to recognize word parts since they often give a clue as to the meaning of a word. Science terminology is predominately based on the Latin and Greek languages. Thus, Biolympiads.com compiled a list of the most common word parts which are common in biology.

PrefixMeaningExample
A
a-, an- not, without, lacking, deficientapetalous, atypical
ab- away from, out fromabaxial epidermis
acou-, acous- hearacoustic
-aceous of or pertaining toproteinaceous
ad- to, towardadaxial epidermis, adhere
aden- glandadenohypothesis
adip- fatadipocytes
aero- airaerophile
agglutin/o clumping; sticking togetheraggliutination
agri- field, soilAgrobacterium
aig-, -algia painneuralgia
alb- whitealbino
-algia painneuralgia
alto- highaltitude
ambi- bothambivalence
ameb- change, alternationameboid
amni- fetal membraneamnion
amphi-, ampho- bothamphibolic, amphipathic, amphibians
amyl- starchamylopectin
ana- away, up, back, againanabolism
an- withoutanhydrous
andro- maleandroecium, androgen
anemo- windanemophily
ang- choke, feel painangina
angi- blood, vessel, ductangiogenesis, angiotensin
ante-ahead of time, beforeanterior
anter- frontanterograde
antho- flowerantophytes
anti- against, oppositeantitoxin, antibody
antrhopo- man, humananthropology
apo-, ap- away from, out fromapoplexy, apocarp
aqu- wateraquaporin
archaeo-, arche- primitive, ancientarcheology
arteri- arteryarteriole
arthr- jointarthropod
aster-, astr starAsteroidea
-ase enzymeamylase
atmo- vaporatmosphere
audi- hearaudible
aur- earauricle
auto- selfautoimmune
avi- bird, flyingavian
B
bacter-, bactr- bacterium, stick,bactericidal
baro- pressurebarophile, barometer
bi- twobiradial
bi-, bio- (Greek) life, livingabiotic, biotic
-blast- sprout, germ, budblastula, erythroblast
brachi- armtriceps brachii
brachy- shortbrachycardia
brady- slowbradycardia
branchi- finBranchiostoma
bronch- windpipebronchioles
but- with 4 carbonsbutane
C
calor- heatcalorimeter
capit- headdecapitate
carcin- cancercarcinogeneic
cardi- heartcardiomyocyte
carn- meat, fleshcarnivore
carp- fruitpericarp
carpal- wristmetacarpal
cata- breaking downcatabolism
caud- tailcaudal
centi- hundredthcentipedes
centr- centercentral
cephal- headcephalic
cerebr- braincerebrospinal
cervic- neckcervical vertebrae
cheli-, chela- claw, pincerchelicerate
chem- dealing with chemicalschemotherapy, chemotaxis
chir- handChiroptera
chlor- greenchlorophyll
chondr- cartilagechondrocyte
chrom-, -chrome chrome colorchromosome
chron- timeheterochrony
-chym chym juicechyme
cide to kill, a killerbacteriocidal
circa-, circum- around, aboutcircumvallate
co- withcooperativity
coel-, -coelomcavity, space w/in bodyacoelomates
coll- gluecolligative
coni- coneconifer
contra- againstcontralateral
corp- bodycorpuscle
cort-, cortic- outer layercortex
cotyl- cupcotyledon
counter- againstcounterattack
crani- skullextracranial
crypt- hidden, coveredcryptic coloration
-cul-, -cule small, diminutivemolecule
cuti- skinpulmocutaneous
cyan- bluecynobacteria
cyt-, cyto-, -cyte, cyto-, -cyte cell, hollow containercytoplasm
-cyst- saccyst- sac, pouch, bladderoocyst
-cycle ring, circlepericycle
D
dactyl- fingerpolydactylyl
de- away from, downdegradation
deca- tendecapod
deci- tenthdecimeter
demi- halfdemineralisation
dendr- treedendrochronology
dent- toothperiodontitis
derm- skinepidermis
di- bi-, du-, duo-, dipl- two, doublebiramaous
dia- (Greek) throughdiapedesis
digit- finger, toedigital artery
diplo- twodiploblastic
dis- apart, outdisequilibrium
dorm- sleepdormancy
dors- backdorsal
dynam- powerdynamometer
dys- bad, abnormal, difficultdyspepsia
E
ec- out of, away fromectopic
echin-, echino- spiny, pricklyechinoderm
eco- houseecology
-ectomyectomyappendectomy
ecto- outside ofectoparasite
-emia emia bloodanemia
en-, em-, endo-, ent- in, into, within, insideembolism, endoskeleton
encephal- brainencephalitis
ennea-, novem- nine
enter-, entero- intestine, gutenterokinase
entom- insectsentomology
-elle elle smallmicelle
epi- upon, above, overepiglottis
erythro- rederythrocyte, phycoerythrin
equi- horseequisetophyte
eth- with 2 carbonsethylene
eu- proper, real, well, good, true, normaleumetazoans
eury- wideneuryhaline
ex-, exo- out of, away fromexothermic
extra- beyond, outsideextraembryonic
F
ferro- ironferritin
-fer-bear, carry, transportafferent, efferent, transferin
fibr- fiberfiber, threadfibrinogen
fiss-, -fid divided into, splitfission
flor- flowerflorigen
flu-,fluct-flux flowinflux, eflux
foli- leaf
fore- beforeforebrain
fract- breakfracture
G
gam- marriagegamete
gastro-, gastr- stomachpneumogastric, gastrin
gen- beginninggenetics, glycogen
geo earth, landgeotaxis
gloss- tonguehypoglossal
gluc-, glyc- sweet, sugarglycosuria
glut- buttockgluteus
glyco- glucoseglycogen
-gnath- jawgnathostoma
-gnosis gnosis knowledge, to knowdiagnosis
graph to write, to drawelectroencephalography
grav- heavy
gymno- naked, baregymnosperm
gyn-, -gynous femalegynoecium
gyr- ring, circle, spiralgyrus
H
halo- salthalophile
hapl-, haplo- simplehaploid
cent-, cente- 100
hector- hundred
-helminth helminth wormanthelminthic
hem-, heme-, -hemo bloodhemorrhage
hemi- halfhemichordate
hepar-, hepat- liverhepatitis
hepta- septem-, septi- seven
herb- grass, plantsherbicide, herbivore
herp- snakes, reptileherpetology
hetero- different, otherheterozygous
hex-, hexa- six
hidr- sweathidrosis
hist- tissuehistology
holo- entire, wholeholoblastic
homo- man, human (Latin)Homo sapiens
homo- same, alikehomozygous
hort- gardenhorticulture
hydr- waterhydrolytic
hygr- moist, wethygrophile
hyper- above, beyond, overhypersecretion
hyph- weaving, webhyphae
hypo- below, under, lesshyposecretion, hypocotyl
hyster- womb, uterushysterectomy
I
-iasis iasis disease, abnormal conditionatelectasis
ichthy- fishosteichthyes
ign- fireignite
in-, il-, im-, ir- not, toward, intoinflux
-itis itis inflammationappendicitis
infra- below, beneathinfrared
inter- betweenintercostal
intra- insideintrathoracic
iso- equal, sameisovolumetric
ir- notirregular
K
kata-, cata- downcatabolism
karyo- nucleuskaryokinesis
kel- tumor, swelling
kerat- hornkeratin
kilo- thousandkilogram
kine-, kin- movekinetic, dyskinesia
L
lachry- tearlachrymal gland
lact- milklactase, prolactin
lat- sideipsilateral
leuc-, leuk- white, bright, lightleucocyte
lign- woodlignin
lingu- tonguelingual
lip- fatlipophobic
lith-, -lite stone, petrifyingcholecystolithiasis
loc- placelocus
logos, logy studybiology
lumen- lightchemolumenescence
luna moon
lyso-, -lysis break aparthemolysis
lymph-, lympho- lymphlymphocyte
M
macr-, macro- largemacrophage, macrocephaly
mal- badmalabsorption
malac- softosteomalacia
malle- hammermalleus
mamm- breastmammary gland
marg- border, edgemarginal
mast- breastmastocyte
med- middle
meg- million, greatmegagametophyte
-mer mer partmetamer
mela-, melan- black, darkmelanoma, melena
mes- middle, half, intermediatemesencephalon
meso- middlemesolimbic
met-, meta- between, along, aftermetanephridia
meter meter (unit) centimeter
meth- with 1 carbonmethyl
micro- small, millionthmicroorganism
mid- middlemidbrain
milli- thousandthmillimeter
min- small
mis- wrong, incorrect
mit, mis- sendneurotransmitter
mito- threadmitosis
mole- massmolecule
mono- one, singlemonocyte, monosaccharide
morph- form, bodymorphology
mort- deathpostmortem
mot- movemotile
multi- manymultilobed
mut-, muta- changemutagen
my-, myo- musclemyosin, myoglobin
myc- fungusmycosis
mycel- threadlikemycelium
myco- fungusmycology
myriad- manymyriapoda
N
nas- nosenasal
necro- deadnecrosis
nemat- threadnematode
neo- new, recentneocortex
neprho- kidneynephritis
neuro- nerveneurilemma
noct-, nov- nightnoctural
non- not
nuc- centernucleoplasma
O
ob- againstobstruction
oct- eightoctopus
ocul- eyeocular
odont- teethodontology
-oid oid similar tolymphoid, ameboid
olf- smellolfaction
-ole ole smallbronchiole
oligo- few, littleoligosaccharide
omni- allomnivore
-oma swelling, tumorsarcoma
onc- mass, tumor, blukoncosphere, oncotic pressure
onco- canceroncology
oo-, ovul-, ova- eggoocyst
ophthalm- eyeophtalmology
opt- eyeoptic
orb- circle, round, ringorbital
ornith- birdornithology
orth- straight, correct, rightOrthoptera
oscu- mouthosculum
os-, oste-, osteo- boneosteology, osteocyte
oto- earotitis
ov- eggoviduct, ovipositor
oxy- sharp, acid, oxygenanoxygenic
P
proto- first, primaryprotoxylem, protonephridia
pachy- thickpachytena
paleo- old, ancientpaleontology
palm- broad, flatpalmate
pan- allpandemic
par-, para- beside, near, equal, alongsideparathyroid, parapodia
partheno- virginparthenogenesis
path-, -pathydiseasepathology
ped- footpedipalp
pent- fivepentameric
peri- aroundpericardium
permea- pass, gopermeable
phago- eatphagocyte
-philia, -phil-love, friendshipbasophil, eosinophil
-phobia fear, intense dislikehydrophobic
phon-, -phone soundphonology
photo- lightphotoreceptor
-phore, pher- bear, carrychromatophore, electrophoresis
phren- mind, diaphragmphrenic nerve
phyco- seaweed, algaephycobilin
phyl- related groupphylogeny
-phyll phyll leafphyllotaxy
physic- nature, natural qualitiesphysiology
phyto-, phyte plantphytohormone
pinni- featherpinnate
pino- drinkpinocytosis
plasm-, -plast- form, formed intoplasmolema
platy- flatPlatyhelminthes
pleur- lung, rib, sidepleura
pneumo- lungs, airpneumonia
-pnea pnea breathingdyspnea
poly- many, much polygon, polyesterpolysaccharide
pom- fruitpome
por- openingpore
port- carryuniporter, antiporter
post- after, behindpostganglionic
pre- before, ahead of timeproenzyme
pri- firstprimitive, primordia
pro-, proto- first, before,forward,protostome
prop- with 3 carbonspropane
proprio- one’s own proprioceptors
pseudo- falsepseudoped
psycho-mind, mentalpsychology
pter- having wings or finsaptera
pulmo- lungpulmonary
pyr- heat, firepyrogen
quadr- fourquadriplegic
quin- five
R
radi- rayradial
re- again, backre-absorption
ren- kidneyadrenal
ret- net, made like a netreticular fibers
retro- back, backwardretrograde
rhag-, -rrhage burst forthhemorrhage
rhe-, -rrhea flowdiarrhea, rheotaxis
rhino- noserhinoceros
rhiz- root, rootlikerhizoid
rhodo- redrhodophyte
roto- wheelrotifera
rupt- to breakrupture
S
sacchar- sugardisaccharide
sapr- rottensaprotroph
sarc- flesh, musclesarcoplasm
saur- lizard lizard ichthyosaurian
schis-, schiz- split, divideschizogony
scler- hardsclereid
scriptto write
semi- half, partlysemilunar
sept- partition, sevensepta
sess- sitsessile
sex- six
sol-, helio- sunheliotropism
som-, somat-, -some bodysomatic cell
somn- sleepinsomnia
son- soundsonolocation
spec-, spic- look atinspection
spermat-, -sperm seedspermatophore
spir-, -spire breathespiracles
stat-, -stasis standing, placed, stayinghemostasis
stell- starsstellar
sten- narrowstenosis
stereo- solid, 3-dimensionalsteroisomer
steato- , stea- fatsteatorrhea
stoma-, -stome mouth, openingprotostome
styl- pillarstylus
sub- under, belowsubcellular, sublingual
supra-, super-, sur- over, above, on topsuprarenal
sym-, syn- together, withsymporter
T
tachy- quick, swifttachycardia
tarso- ankletarsal
tax- arrange, put in ordertaxis
tel-, tele- distanttelencephalon, telson
telo- endtelophase
terr- earth, landterrestrial
tetra- quadri-, quart-4tetrapods
thall- young shootthallus
therm- heatthermophilic
thrombo- clot, coagulationthrombosis
-tom-, -tomy cut, slicetonsillectomy
top- placetopology
toxi-, toxo- poisontoxin
trache- windpipetracheids
trans- across, throughtransstadial
tri- three
trich- hairtrichomes
troph- feedautotrophic
-tropic, tropism turningphototropic
turb- whirlturbine
U
ultra- beyondultrafiltration
-ule ule smallsaccule
un- notuncover
uni- one, singleuniport
ur-, -uria urineglycosuria
-ura tailAnura
V
vas- vesselvasodilation
vect- carryvector
ven-, vent- comeventrolateral
ventr- belly, undersideventral
vig- strongvigorous
vit-, viv- lifeviviparous
volv- roll, wanderVolvox
-vor- devour, eatcarnivorous
X
xanth- yellowxanthophyll
xero- dryxerophyte
xyl- woodxylem
Z
-zoite (-zoon) animaltrophozoite
zoo-, zo-, -zoan animalzoonotic
zyg- joined togetherzygote