Medical Terminology

Topics: Medical terminology, Latin, Suffix Pages: 8 (1993 words) Published: June 7, 2012
Introduction To Medical Terminology
What is Medical Terminology?
It is the language of medicine. When studying this subject you will find that most medical words are divided into 3 categories: terms made from word parts; terms not made from word parts; terms which are eponyms (condition named for a person who first studied/identified/researched the disorder/disease)

About Word Parts
Words made from word parts usually consist of 2-3 parts. First, there is the combining form or root part. This describes what part of the body is being discussed. This root is modified by adding a suffix or prefix or both a suffix and prefix.

For instance: arthro is the root/combining form meaning JOINT; -centesis is a suffix (remember a suffix is at the end of a word) meaning “puncture to remove fluid”. So, putting them together we get ARTHROCENTESIS, meaning puncture of a joint to remove fluid.

(Note: notice that the definition is “puncture of a joint to remove fluid, so when trying to construct words the FIRST part of the definition (puncture of) is usually the suffix of the medical word. So, here we would start with centesis and add arthro at the front to make the correct medical term.)

Prefixes (at front of word) also modify the meaning; many times prefixes modify the amount, time, location or position. For instance trans is a prefix meaning across; derm is a root meaning skin and –al is a suffix meaning “referring to”. So, putting them together in the correct order (prefix, combining form, suffix) we get transdermal, meaning “across the skin”.

About Words NOT Made From Word Parts

The second category consists of medical terms not made from word parts. These are the vocabulary words we all remember from grade school. Every Friday the teacher gave us a list of new words to learn for Monday. We went home and studied them for our test on Monday. That’s what we have to do here, just study the vocabulary words.


Lastly, we have medical terms based on the name of the first person describing the condition/disease.

About Singular and Plurals when Constructing Medical Terms

This document ends with “rules for” changing the singular form of a word to the plural and “general rules for spelling including use of the combining vowel. Please read Chapters 1 and 2 for a more thorough understanding of this topic. Since most medical terms are derived from the Greek or Latin language, there are some rules to learn. In English when we want to make something plural, we just add an “s or es”. Not so in the Greek or Latin languages. It is important to look this over and learn these concepts now. Changing Singular Words to Plural

Singular Ends in:Plural
aadd an e
ix, axchange x to c and add es
exchange to ic and add es
enchange to ina
ychange to ies
onchange to a
umchange to a
uschange to i

ischange to es
nxchange x to g, then add es
(note; to add any suffix to words ending in nx, use the change to g rule)

Rules for Forming and Spelling Medical Terms
Combining vowels
Sometimes vowels are added when you are adding a suffix or prefix in order to make the word easier to pronounce. Most commonly the vowel is an “o”, but occasionally it is another vowel. I have tried to put combining vowels in ( ) so you will see what I am talking about.

1.A combining vowel is used to join root to root as well as root to any suffix beginning with a consonant, e.g., electr/o/cardi/o/gram 2.A combining vowel is NOT used before a suffix that begins with a...
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