Formation of Medical Terms

Medical terminology may take on an almost infinite variety of combinations of these three basic elements. Terms may be composed of

Root + Suffix
Medical Term Root Suffix
carcinoma carcin(o) oma
Prefix + Root
Medical Term Prefix Root
neoplasm Neo Plasm
Prefix + a root + a suffix
Medical Term Prefix Root Root
pericarditis peri card itis
Two roots
Medical Term Root Root
erythroblast erythr(o) blast

For the sake of ease in pronunciation, a vowel (usually "o") may be used with the word elements.

A root word + a suffix may also be used to form a new suffix and added to another root word. However, suffixes alone cannot combine to form a word.

Root + Suffix New Suffix Root Word New Word
cyst + ic -cystic poly polycystic
gen + ic -genic osteo osteogenic
graph + y -graphy radio radiography
path + y -pathy adeno adenopathy

Updated: December 11, 2023