Common medical prefixes and postfixes-MedicalTOne

With hundreds of medical terms to memorize, aspiring health professionals need to understand common medical prefixes and postfixes. This info graphic explores common medical prefixes and postfixes and their meaning.

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If you are just getting started learning medical terminology, prefixes and suffixes are a good launching point. Yes, there are lots more prefixes for medical terminology than you see listed here. But, to get you started, here is a quick look at some of the most common prefixes that play a huge role in both common, everyday English and medical terminology.

PrefixWhat It Means
A-, an-Lack of, without, not
Ante-Before, in front of, or forward
Anti-Opposing or against
Bi-Double, two, twice, both
Co-, con-, com-Together or with
De-Down, or from
Di-Twice or two
Extra-, extro-Beyond, outside of, or outward
Hemi-, semi-Half, half of
Hyper-Above, excessive, beyond
Hyp-, hypo-Below, beneath, deficient
Infra-Below or beneath
Inter-Between
Intra-Within, inside
Intro-Into, or within
Macro-Large
Micro-, micr-Tiny, small
Post-After, or following, behind
Pre-, pro-In front of, before, preceding
Retro-Behind, backward
Semi-Half
Trans-Through or across
Tri-Three
Ultra-Excessive, beyond

The suffix, always at the end of a word, usually indicates a procedure, a condition, or a disease. Whereas the prefix gives you a clue into what to expect in a word’s meaning, the suffix pulls no punches and tells you what is happening with a specific body part or system. And, usually, it either entails what is wrong medically or indicates the procedure used to diagnose or fix it.

SuffixWhat It Means
-ac, -ic, -al, -ous, -ticRelated to, or pertaining to
-ate, -izeSubject to, use
-ent, -er, -istPerson, agent
-genicProduced by
-gramA written record
-graphInstrument used to record
-graphyProcess of recording
-ismCondition or theory
-itisInflammation
-ologistOne who studies, specialist
-ologyStudy of, process of study
-omaTumor
-pathyDisease, disease process
-phobiaMorbid fear of or intolerance
-scopeInstrument used to visually examine
-scopyProcess of visual examination
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