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Medical Terminology Basics:
Prefixes Page 3

Medical Terminology Basics: Prefixes Page 3

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Prefixes, the most frequently used elements in the formation of Greek and Latin words, consist of one or more syllables (prepositions or adverbs) placed before words or roots to show various kinds of relationships. They are never used independently, but when added before verbs, adjectives, or nouns, they modify the meaning. Many prefixes are added to other words with a hyphen, but medical dictionary publishers are opting to drop the hyphen on many of the more common prefixed medical words.

Most prefixes are a part of words in ordinary speech and do not refer specifically to medical or scientific terminology, but there are many that occur frequently in medical terminology, and studying them is an important step in learning medical terms and building a medical vocabulary.

You may also be interested in reviewing these Medword pages: Suffixes, USP Drug Listings, Basic Medical Terms, Examples of Transcribed Reports.

Prefix Translation of
Greek or Latin
Im, inIn, IntoImmersion (act of dipping in); infiltration (act of filtering in); injection (act of forcing liquid into)
Im, inNotImmature (not mature); involuntary (not voluntary); inability (not able)
InfraBelowInfraorbital (below eye); infraclavicular (below clavicle or collarbone)
InterBetweenIntercostal (between ribs); intervene (come between)
IntraWithinIntracerebral (within cerebrum); intraocular (within eyes); intraventricular (within ventricles )
IntroInto, withinIntroversion (turning inward); introduce (lead into)
MetaBeyond, after,
Metamorphosis (change of form); metastasis change (beyond original position); metacarpal (beyond wrist)
OpisthoBehind, backwardOpisthotic (behind ears); opisthognathous (beyond jaws)
ParaBeside, beyond,
near to
Paracardiac (beside the heart); paraurethral (near the urethra)
Permeate (pass through); perforate (bore through); peracute (excessively acute)
PeriAroundPeriosteum (around bone); periatrial. (around atrium); peribronchial (around bronchus)
PostAfter, behindPostoperative (after operation); postpartum (after childbirth); postocular (behind eye)
PreBefore, in
front of
Premaxillary (in front of maxilla); preoral (in front of mouth)
ProBefore, in
front of
Prognosis (foreknowledge); prophase (appear before)
ReBack, again,
Reflex (bend back); revert (turn again to); regurgitation (backward flowing, contrary to normal)
located behind
Retrocervical (located behind cervix); retrograde (going backward); retrolingual. (behind tongue)
SemiHalfSemicartilaginous (half cartilage); semilunar(half­moon); semiconscious (half conscious)
SubUnderSubcutaneous (under skin); subarachnoid (under arachnoid); subungual (under nail)
SuperAbove, upper,
Supercilia (upper brows); supernumerary (excessive number); supermedial (above middle)
SupraAbove, upper, excessiveSuprarenal (above kidney); suprasternal (above sternum); suprascapular (on upper part of scapula)
Sym, syndromeTogether, withSymphysis (growing together); synapsis (joining together); synarthrosis (articulation of joints together)
TransAcross, through, beyondTransection (cut across); transduodenal (through duodenum); transmit (send beyond)
UltraBeyond, in excessUltraviolet (beyond violet end of spectrum); ultraligation (ligation of vessel beyond point of origin); ultrasonic (sound waves beyond the upper frequency of hearing by human ear)

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Prefixes ­ Page 1: "a" To "Con"
Prefixes ­ Page 2: "Contra" To "Hypo"

The list below covers just a few areas of interest that are, in fact, the foundations for learning the language of medicine - medical terminology.

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