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Published: Tuesday, 20 June 2017
Updated: Tuesday, 20 June 2017 20:16
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The following list is by no means complete, but it may help in understanding some difficult terminology. The following abbreviations are used ; Gr., for the Greek ; L., for the Latin.
  • a-or an- (Gr., without or absent), asexual, without sex anaerobe organism that lives without free oxygen.
  • ab- (L., away from or without), aboral, away from the mouth
  • ad- (L., toward, upon, or equal), adrenal , relating to the kidney; adduct, to draw one part towards another.
  • ae (L., plural ending of singular Latin nouns ending in a) alga and algae
  • acr, acri-, acis (Gr-akris) Outermost top, point, tip
  • actin-actino (Gr., ktis-ray)
  • aer-(Gr, air), aerobe , organism that requires free air.
  • alb (L., white), albino , organism exhibiting no pigment.
  • algia (Gr., pain), neuralgia , pain in a nerve.
  • ambi- (L., both), ambidextrous , being able to use eitherhand.
  • ambly (Gr., ambulus, dull, dim) e.g. amblypoda, rangeextinct animals of the Eocene period.
  • amphi- (Gr., on both sides), Amphibia , class of vertebrateanimals living in water and on land.
  • amyl- (L., starch), amylase enzyme that changes starch to sugar.
  • ana- (Gr., back or again), anabolism , building-up processof metabolism.
  • angio- (Gr., enclosed), angiosperm , plant with enclosed or protected seeds.
  • ante- (L., before in time or space), antedorsal , placed before dorsal.
  • anti- (Gr., opposed or opposite), antitoxin , antibody opposed to or neutralizing a toxin.
  • antho- (Gr., anthos = flower), Anthozoa-flower-like coelenterates.
  • antr- (L., cavity), antrum , cavity of a bone.
  • apo- (Gr., away or separate), apodeme , ingrowth from the exo-skeleton of most arthropods.
  • aqua- (L., water), aquatic , living in water.
  • arch- (Gr., early or chief), archenteron , early digestive tract or enteron ; Archeozoic , earliest era of geologic history.
  • areol- (L., space), areolar , containing minute spaces.
  • arthr- (Gr., joint), Arthropoda , phylum of invertebrateanimals with jointed appendages or feet.
  • asco- (Gr., sac or bag), Ascomycetes , class of sac-bearing fungi.
  • -ase (suffix designating an enzyme), protease enzyme that acts on proteins.
  • aster- (Gr., star), Asteroidea , class of echinoderms resembling stars.
  • auto- (Gr., self), autosynthesis , self-building up.
  • axo, ax, axio, axon (Gr., axine-axis)-pertaining to an axis.
  • bactér- (Gr., baktron , a stick), bacteria , rod-shaped organisms.
  • basi- (Gr., base) basidiospore , spore formed at the baseof a basidium.
  • bi (Gr., base), bilateral , similar on both sides.
  • bio- (Gr., life), biology , science of life.
  • blast- (Gr., bud or young), blastoderm , primitive germlayer.
  • brachy- (Gr., short), brachydactyly , abnormal shortness of the digits.
  • brady (Gr., boadus, slow)
  • brevis (L., short), adductor brevis , short adductor muscle.
  • bryo- (Gr., moss), bryophyte , plant of the phylum comprising the mosses.
  • caec- (L., blind), cecum , ( caecum ), blind pouch.
  • calci- (L., lime), calcareous , containing lime.
  • -carp (Gr., fruit), pericarp , wall around the plant ovary.
  • cata- (Gr., down), catabolism , breaking-down process of metabolism.
  • cauda- (L., tail), caudal , relating to a tail. cay— (L., hollow), vena cava , hollow vein.
  • ceno- (Gr., recent), Cenozoic , recent era of geologic history.
  • centr- (L., center), centrosome , Léntre of activity during mitosis.
  • cephalo— (Gr., head), cephalic , relating to, or toward the head.
  • chior- (Gr., green), chlorophyll, green colouring matter of plants.
  • -chondro (Gr., green), mitochondria , small, granular parts of protoplasm.
  • chondro- (Gr., cartilage), chondrocranium , part of the cranium developing from cartilage.
  • chrom- (Gr., color), chromatophore , colour-bearing cell.
  • -cide (L., kill), insecticide , agent that kills insects.
  • cili (L., eyelash), cilia , minute, hair-like processes.
  • circum- (L., around), circumoesophageal , around the oesophagus.
  • cloaca (L., sewer), cloaca , outlet for excretions. cnido- (Gr., nettle), cnidoblast , nettle cell of certain animals.
  • coel- (Gr., hollow), coelom ( celom ), hollow body cavity.
  • coeno- (Gr., common), coenosarc , common tissue in certain animals.
  • coleo- (Gr., sheathed), Coleoptera , order of sheathedinsects, such as beetles.
  • corn- (L., together), commensalism , living together.
  • con- (L., cone), conifer , cone-bearing tree ; or (L., with), concretion , something that has grown together.
  • cotyl- (Gr., cup shaped), cotyledon , cup-shaped seed leaf.
  • creta- (L., chalk), Cretaceous , chalk period of geologic times.
  • cyan- (Gr., blue), Cyanophyta ,phylum of blue-green algae.
  • cyst- (Gr., sac), cyst, pouch or sac.
  • cyt- (Gr., cell), cytology , branch of biology studying cell structure and function.
  • de- (L., off), degenerate , to lose generative ability, dehydration.
  • dendr- (Gr., brush or tree), dendrite , tree-like structure of a nerve cell.
  • derrn- (Gr., skin), dermis , part of the skin.
  • di- (Gr., twice), diploblastic , possessing two germ layers ; dicotyledon , plant possessing two cotyledons.
  • dis- (L., away), distal , away from the point of origin.
  • -dont (Gr., odontos, tooth) or Thecodont.
  • dors- (L., back), dorsal , pertaining to the back.
  • dura- (L., tough), duramater, tough, outer covering of the brain and spinal cord.
  • e- (L., out of, without), egest , to pass outside.
  • ec- (Gr., house or environment), ecology , study of the habitats of an organism.
  • ecto- (Gr., outside), ectoderm , outer layer of cells.
  • -ectorny (Gr., cut), appendectomy , removal of the appendix.
  • -emia (Gr., blood), anaemia, blood deficiency.
  • en- (Gr., in or within), encyst, to cover with a membranous cyst.
  • endo- or ento- (Gr., within), endoderm , inner layer of cells.
  • eo- (Gr., dawn, or early), Eocene , early geologic period.
  • epi- (Gr., upon), epidermis , epithelial layer upon the dennis.
  • equi- (L., horse), Equisetineae , class to which the horsetails belong.
  • eu- (Gr., good or well), eugenic , being fitted for the production of good offspring.
  • ex- (Gr., external), exoskeleton , external skeleton.
  • extra- (L., beyond), extracellular , beyond or outside the cell.
  • -fer (L., to bear), Porifera , phylum comprising pore- bearing sponges.
  • flu- (L., thread), filiform , thread-like.
  • flex- (L,. bend), flexor , muscle that bends joints.
  • -form (L., shape), uniform , all one shape.
  • gam- (Gr., marriage), gamete , reproductive cell.
  • gastr- (Gr., stomach), gastric , pertaining to the stomach.
  • -gen (Gr., to produce), pathogenic , capable of causing disease.
  • geo- (Gr., earth), geology , science of the earth.
  • -gest (Gr., to bear or hold), ingest, to take in.
  • -glea (Gr., jelly), mesoglea, middle, jelly-like layer in certain animals.
  • glyc- (Gr., sweet or carbohydrate), glycogen animal starch.
  • gono- (Gr., seed or reproduction), gonad , organ of reproduction.
  • gymn- (Gr., naked), gymnosperm, class of seed plants whose seeds are not enclosed in an ovary.
  • haem- (Gr., blood), haemoglobin, (haemoglobin), substance in the blood.
  • hemi- (Gr., half), hemisphere , one half of a sphere.
  • hepat- (Gr., liver), hepatic, pertaining to the liver.
  • hetero- (Gr., other or different), heterogeneous, consisting of different constituents.
  • hex- (Gr., six), hexagonal, six sided.
  • homo- (Gr., same), homogeneous, of a similar kind.
  • hyal- (Gr., glass), hyaline, something that is transparent or glass-like.
  • hydr- (Gr., water), dehydrate, to remove water.
  • hymen- (Gr., membrane), Hymenoptera, order of insects with membranous wings.
  • hyper- (Gr., above), hypersensitive, especially sensitive.
  • hypo- (Gr., under), hypoglossal, situated under the tongue.
  • in- (L., in, into, not, without), invaginate , to infold one part within another.
  • infra- (L., below), infraorbital, below the orbit.
  • inter- (L., between), intercellular, between cells.
  • intra- (L., inside), intracellular, within a cell.
  • iso(Gr., equal), isothermic, having equal temperatures.
  • -itis (Gr., inflammation), appendicitis, inflammation of the appendix.
  • labi- (L., lip), labium, lip.
  • lac- (L., milk), lactose , milk sugar.
  • later- (L., side), lateral , relating to the side.
  • -lemma (Gr., covering), neurilemma , covering of a nerve.
  • lepi- (Gr., scale), Lepidoptera , order of insects with scale wings.
  • leuko- (Gr., white), leukocyte , white blood cell. lip- (Gr., fatty), lipoid , fatty substance.
  • -log (Gr., study), zoology , study of animals.
  • luci- (L., light), luciferin , light-producing material.
  • lysis (Gr., destroy), bacteriolysis , desçruction of bacteria.
  • macro- (Gr. , large), macronucleus , large nucleus.
  • mal- (Gr., bad), malnutrition , bad nutrition.
  • mega- (Gr., large), megaspore , large spore.
  • mens- (L., table), commensalism , eating at a common source of food.
  • -mere (Gr., part), micromere , small part.
  • meso- (Gr., middle), mesoderm , middle cellular layer.
  • meta- (Gr., after), metaphase , later phase of mitosis.
  • micro- (Gr., small), micronucleus , small nucleus.
  • miii- (Gr., thousand), millipede , animal with a “thousand” legs.
  • mio- (Gr., less), Miocene , less recent period in geologichistory.
  • mito- (Gr., thread), mitosis , cell division with the formation of thread-like structures.
  • mono- (Gr., one), monograph, , something written about one subject.
  • morph- (Gr., form), morphology , study of form.
  • multi- (L., many), multi coloured , of many colours.
  • muta- (L., to change), mutation , abrupt hereditary change.
  • myco- (Gr., fungus), mycology , study of fungi.
  • myxo- (Gr., slime), Myxomycophyta , phylum comprising the slime moulds.
  • nema- (Gr., thread), nematocyst , thread-like structure of coelenterates.
  • neo- (Or., young or recent), Neotropical , constituting a recent biogeographic region in the tropics.
  • nephro- (Gr., kidney), iiephridium , tubular excretory organ.
  • non- (L., not), non-irritant , not irritating.
  • noto- (Gr. notos, The back), e.g. notochord.
  • nuc- (L., kernel or centre), nucleus , central portion of a cell.
  • octo- (L., eight), octopus , animal with eight appendages.
  • oedo- (Gr., swollen), edema (oedema), swollen condition.
  • -oid (Gr., like), amoeboid ( amoeboid ), like an Amoeba.
  • oligo- (Gr., few or little), oligotrichous , having few cilia.
  • -oma(Gr., swelling or tumor), carcinoma , malignant growth (cancer).
  • omni- (L., omnis-all) e.g. omnivore.
  • Oo- (Gr., egg), oogenesis , formation and development of an egg.
  • or- (L., mouth), oral , pertaining to the mouth.
  • ortho- (Gr., straight), Orthoptera , order of insects with straight wings.
  • Os- (Gr., bone), osseQus , pertaining to bone.
  • ovi- (L., egg), ovum , egg.oviparous mammals
  • pakiio- (Gr., ancient), palaeontology , study of ancient life.
  • para- (Gr., beside), parapodia , appendages beside others.
  • path- (gr., disease), pathogenic , capable of causing disease.
  • ped- (L., feet), pedal , pertaining to the foot.
  • peri- (Gr., around), peristome , region around an opening or mouth.
  • phaeo- (Or., dark or brown), Phaeophyta , phylum of brown algae.
  • phago- (Or., to eat), phagocyte , cell that eats or destroys.
  • phor- (Or., to bear), sporophore , part of a sporophyte that bears spores.
  • photo- (Or., light), photosynthesis , formation of carbohydrates in the presence of light.
  • -phil! (Or., loving), thermophile , heat-loving organism.
  • phyco- (Or., alga, or seaweed), Phycomycetes , alga like fungus.
  • -phyll (Or., leaf), mesophyll , middle part of a leaf.
  • physio- ( Or., nature), physiology , study of the nature or function of living matter.
  • -phyte (Or., plant), sporophyte , spore-bearing plant.
  • -pkism (Or., formed), ectoplasm , outer region of the cell cytoplasm.
  • platy- (Or., nat), Platyhelminthes, phylum of Flatworms.
  • plio- (Or., more), Pliocene , more recent geologic period.
  • poly- (Or., many), Polymorphous , having many for iris.
  • post- (L., after), postnatal , after birth.
  • -porous (Or., foot), octopus , animal with eight feet or appendages.
  • pre- (L. before), prenatal , before birth.
  • pro- (Or., before), prostomium , portion ofthe head situated before the mouth of certain worms and molluscs.
  • proto- (Or., first of essential), protoplasm , essential material of all plant and animal cells.
  • prox- (L., nearest), proximal , nearest.
  • pseudo- (Or., false), pseudopodia , false feet.
  • -ptero (Or., wing), Diptera , order of insect with two wings.
  • re- (I. ., again or back), regenerate , to form again.
  • ren- (I.., kidney), renal , pertaining to the kidney.
  • rept- (I. ., creeping), reptile , creeping animal.
  • retro- (I. ., backward), retrolingual , backward from the tongue.
  • rhabdo (Or., rhabdos-rod), e.g. rhab, possessing straight rod-like intestine.
  • rhizo- (Or., root), Rhizopoda , subclass of animals with root-like appendages.
  • rhodo- (Or., red), Rhodophyta , phylum of red algae.
  • roti- (I.., wheel), rotifer , animal with a wheel-like structure on its head.
  • -sare (Or., flesh), ectosarc , outer flesh or layer of protoplasm.
  • schizo- (Or., to divide), Schizomycophyta , phylum of fission fungi (bacteria).
  • scler- (Or., hard), sclerotic , hard.
  • -scope (Or., see) microscope , instrument enabling one to see minute ‘objects.
  • -see! (I. ., to cut), dissect , to cut.
  • -semi- (L., half), semicircle , half of a circle.
  • sept- (L., wall), septum , partition.
  • set- (L., bristle), seta , bristle-like structure.
  • sinu- (L., hollow), sinus , hollow cavity.
  • soma- (Gr., body), somatoplasm , protoplasm of the body.
  • spor- (Gr., seed), spore , reproductive structure.
  • stoma- (Gr., opening), stoma , opening, such as is found in leaves.
  • sub- (Gr., under), submaxillary , under the maxilla.
  • super- (L., over or above), superior , higher, upper, or above.
  • supra- (L., above), suprarenal , above the kidney .
  • sym- (Gr., together), symbiosis , living together.
  • syn- (Gr., together), synapsis , association or union.
  • taxo-, taxi-, taxis (Gr., taxis-arrangement).
  • telo- (Gr., complete or end), telophase , end stage of cell division.
  • terato- (Gr., marvel, or monster),teratology, study ofmonstrosities or deviations from the normal.
  • tetra- (Gr., four), tetrapod , something that has four feet.
  • -thec (Gr., case), spermatheca , sperm-case.
  • thermo- (Gr., heat), thermotropism , reaction to heat.
  • thigmo- (Gr., contact), thigmotropism , reaction to contact.
  • -tome (Gr., to cut), microtome , instrument to cut small sections.
  • toxi- (Gr., poison), toxin , poison.
  • trans- (Gr., across), transfer , to carry across.
  • tri- (Gr., three), trilobed , having three lobes.
  • tricho- (Gr., hair), trichocyst , hair-like structure.
  • trop- (Gr., reaction), tropism , reaction to stimuli.
  • ultra- (L., beyond), ultramicroscopic, so small that it is beyond the microscope.
  • uni- (L, one), unilateral , on one side.
  • -ur (Gr., tail, Anura , animals without tails.
  • vas- (L., vessel), vas deferens , vessel to transmit male sex cells.
  • ventr- (Gr., belly), ventral , pertaining to the lower or belly side.
  • ti- (L., to turn), Vorticella , animal that turns as it moves.
  • xantho- (Gr., xanthos, yellow) : eg. xanthophyll, yellowpigment.
  • xiphi- (Gr., xiphos, a sword) : e.g. xiphiosura, king crabs the hind part bearing a long tail spine
  • xen-, xeno- (Gr., xen-strange-different)
  • xero- (Gr., xeros-dry) e.g. xerophyte e.g. climatic plant
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