Prefixes are located at the beginning of a medical term. The prefix alters the meaning of the medical term. It is important to spell and pronounce prefixes correctly.

Many prefixes that you find in medical terms are common English-language prefixes. A good technique to help with memorization is the following:

  • Start by reviewing the most common prefixes.
  • Consider common English-language words that begin with the same prefixes.
  • Compare them to the examples of use in medical terms.

We will be seeing these prefixes mentioned again in this book, but they are presented here as a reference.

a-, an no, not, without, negates the meaning atypical, anoxia
ab- away from; from abduction
ad- toward, at, increase, on, toward adduction
ante- before antepartum
anti- against, opposing antipsychotic
bi-, bin- two, twice, double bilateral, binocular
brady- slow bradycardia
de- from, down, away from dehydrate
dia- through, complete dialysis
dys- painful, abnormal, difficult, labored dysphagia
endo- within, in endotracheal
epi- on, upon, over epidermis
eu- normal, good eupnea
hemi- half hemicolectomy
hyper- above, excessive hyperthyroidism
inter- between intercostal
intra- within, in intramuscular
macro- large, long macrocephalus
meta- after, beyond, change metacarpals
micro- small microscope
multi- many multipara
neo- new neonate
nulli- none nulligravida
pachy- thick, thickening, thickened pachyderma
pan- all, total pancytopenia
para- beside, beyond, around, abnormal parathyroid glands
per- through percutaneous
peri- surrounding (outer) peripheral vision
poly- many, much polymyositis
post- after postpartum
pre- before prenatal
pro- before prognosis
sub- below, under subcutaneous
supra- above suprascapular
sym-, syn- together, joined symphysis
tachy- fast, rapid tachycardia
trans- through, across, beyond transdermal
tri- three triceps
uni- one unilateral


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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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