Word Parts and Structural Terms

Combining Forms

arachn/o: spider

astr/o: star

cephal/o: head

cerebell/o: cerebellum

cerebr/o: cerebrum

cortic/o: outer layer or covering

crani/o: cranium, head

dur/o: dura mater, hard

encephal/o: brain

esthesi/o: sensation, sensitivity, feeling

gangli/o: ganglion

ganglion/o: ganglion

gli/o: glia, gluey substance

heme/o: blood

hydr/o: water

mening/o: meninges

meningi/o: meninges

ment/o: mind

mon/o: one, single

myel/o: spinal cord

neur/o: nerve

pariet/o: wall

phas/o: speech

poli/o: gray matter

psych/o: mind

quadr/i: four

radic/o: nerve root

radicul/o: nerve root

rhiz/o: nerve root

somat/o: body

thromb/o: clot


a-: absence of, without, no, not

an-: absence of, without, no, not

dys-: painful, abnormal, difficult, labored

hemi-: half

hyper-: above, excessive

hypo-: below, deficient

inter-: between

intra-: within

pan-: all, total

para-: beside, beyond, around, abnormal

poly-: many, much

post-: after

pre-: before

sub-: below, under

syn-: together


-al: pertaining to (adjective)

-algia: pain (noun)

-cele: hernia, protrusion (noun)

-cyte: cell (noun)

-ectomy: excision, surgical removal, cutting out (noun)

-genic: producing, originating, causing (adjective)

-gram: the record, radiographic image (noun)

-graph: instrument used to record (noun)

-graphy: process of recording, radiographic imaging (noun)

-ia: condition of, diseased state or abnormal state (adjective)

-ic: pertaining to (adjective)

-iatrist: specialist, physician (noun)

-atry: specialty, treatment (noun)

-ictal: seizure, attack

-itis: inflammation

-logist: specialist, physician

-logy: study of

-lysis: loosening, dissolution, separating

-malacia: softening

-oid: resembling

-oma: tumor

-osis: abnormal condition

-paresis: slight paralysis

-pathy: disease

-peri: around or about

-phasia: speech

-plasty: surgical repair

-plegia: paralysis

-rrhaphy: suture

-sclerosis: hardening

-rrhaphy: suturing, repairing

-tomy: incision, cut into

Structural Terms Built from Word Parts

arachnoid: resembling a spider

astrocyte: star-shaped cell; a type of glial cell

cephalgia: pain in the head

cephalic: pertaining to the head

cerebellar: pertaining to the cerebellum

cerebral: pertaining to the cerebrum

cortical: pertaining to the gray matter of the cerebrum

cranial: pertaining to the cranium or skull cap

craniocerebral: pertaining to the cranium and cerebrum

dendrite: tree-like structure; receptive process of the neuron

diencephalon: thalamus and hypothalamus

ganglial: pertaining to a localized collection of neuron cell bodies

glial: pertaining to neuroglia

gliocyte: glial cell

hypothalamic: pertaining to the hypothalamus

hypothalamus: structure below the thalamus; part of the diencephalon

intracerebral: pertaining to within the cerebrum

medulla oblongata: innermost, oblong-shaped part of the brain stem

meningeal: pertaining to the membranes protecting the brain

mental: pertaining to the brain

microglia: small neuroglial cell

myelin: a fatty sheath around an axon of some neurons

neuroglia: “nerve glue”; supportive cells of nerve tissue

neuroid: resembling a nerve

parietal: pertaining to the wall

parietal lobe: one of the cerebral lobes; named for the cranial bone it is situated beneath

peripheral: pertaining to around the center

peripheral nervous system: the division of the nervous system outside of the central nervous system

psychogenic: originating in the mind

somatic: pertaining to the body

somatic nervous system: pertaining to peripheral nervous system sections that carry impulses to the skeletal muscles

subarachnoid space: space under the middle layer of the meninges where cerebrospinal fluid flows


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Medical Terminology: An Interactive Approach Copyright © 2022 by LOUIS: The Louisiana Library Network is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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