Suffixes are the one or more syllables or elements added to the root or stem of a word (the part that indicates the essential meaning) to alter the meaning or indicate the intended part of speech.

To make a word pronounceable, the last letter or letters of the root to which the suffix is attached may be changed. The last vowel may be changed to an "o" or an "o" may be inserted if it is not already present before a suffix beginning with a consonant, as in cardiology. The final vowel in the root may be dropped before a suffix beginning with a vowel, as in neuritis.

Most suffixes are in common use in English, but some are peculiar to medical science. The suffixes most commonly used to indicate disease are itis, meaning inflammation; oma, meaning tumor; and osis, meaning a condition, usually morbid. The suffixes listed occur often in medical terminology, but they are also in use in ordinary language. These suffixes apply to Greek and Latin words.

Suffix Meaning Examples

Pertaining to, relating to Cardiac (pertaining to the heart)
Neural (pertaining to nerve)
Hemorrhagic (relating to bleeding)
Delirious (relating to mental disturbance)
Acoustic (pertaining to sound)

Pain Neuralgia (pain in nerves)
Mastodynia (pain in breast)
Use, subject to Impregnate (to make pregnant)
Visualize (use imagination)
-cele Protrusion (hernia) Cystocele (bladder hernia)
Rectocele (rectal protrusion into vagina)
-centesis Surgical puncture
to remove fluid
Paracentesis (from a body cavity)
Thoracentesis (from chest cavity)

Small Follicle (little bag)
Molecule (small mass)
Arteriole, arteriola (small artery)
Nodule (small node)
Ovulum (small egglike structure)
Homunculus (small man)

-cyte Cell Leukocyte (white blood cell)
Erythrocyte (red blood cell)
-ectomy Cutting out Lobectomy (of a lobe)
Appendectomy (of the appendix)
-emesis Vomit Hematemesis (vomiting blood)
Hyperemesis (excessive vomiting)
-emia Blood condition Leukemia (malignant blood disease)
Anemia (lack of red blood cells)

Person or agent Recipient (one who receives)
Examiner (one who examines)
Oculist (eye physician)
Donor (one who donates)


State or condition Paresis (partial paralysis)
Anesthesia (loss of sensation)
Psoriasis (skin condition)
Priapism (persistent erection)
Acidity (excess acid)
Narcosis (drugged state)
Inhalation (inhaling)
Therapy (treatment condition)

shaped like
Fusiform (spindle shaped)
Ovoid (egg shaped)
-genesis Beginning process, origin Pathogenesis (origin of disease)
Homogenesis (young same as parent)
written record
Mammogram (X-ray of breast)
Cardiography (heart action record)
-graph Instrument that records Cardiograph (heart action)
Encephalograph (brain function)
Capable, able Flexible (capable of bending)
Contactile (able to contract)
Inflammation Tympanites (drumlike swelling of abdomen)
Adenitis (inflammation of a gland)
-logy Science, study of Biology (science of life)
Histology (study of tissues)
-oma Tumor Carcinoma (malignant growth)
Sarcoma (cancerous tumor)
-penia Deficiency of, lack of Glycopenia (sugar in tissues)
Leukopenia (white blood cells)
Fixation, storing Nephropexy (of floating kidney)
Glycopexis (glycogen in liver)
Eating, devouring Geophagia (eating dirt or clay)
Aerophagy (swallowing air)
-phobia Abnormal fear
or intolerance
Acrophobia (fear of heights)
Photophobia (intolerance of light)
-plasty Surgical shaping
or formation
Rhinoplasty (nose formation)
Otoplasty (external ear)
-pnea Breathing Apnea (absence of breathing)
Dyspnea (difficult breathing)
-ptosis Prolapse,
downward displacement
Proctoptosis (prolapse of anus)
Nephroptosis (prolapse of kidney)
Excessive flow Hemorrhage (excessive blood flow)
Metrorrhagia (abnormal menses)
-rrhaphy Suturing in place Herniorrhaphy (repair of hernia)
Osteorrhaphy (wiring of bone)
-rrhea Flow or discharge Rhinorrhea (nasal discharge)
Galactorrhea (breast milk)
-rrhexis Rupture Enterorrhexis (intestinal rupture)
Metrorrhexis (rupture of uterus)
-scope Instrument for examining Microscope (minute objects)
Cystoscope (urinary bladder)
-scopy Act of examining Microscopy (minute objects)
Cystoscopy (urinary bladder)
-stomy Surgical opening Colostomy (colon to body surface)
Gastrostomy (into stomach)
-tome Instrument for Cystotome (cutting into bladder)
Neurotome (dissecting nerves)
-tomy Cutting, incision Cystotomy (of urinary bladder)
Phlebotomy (incision of vein)