As discussed at the beginning of this chapter, medical terms are composed of prefixes, suffixes, combining vowels, and root words. At this point, you should be starting to be a little more familiar with all these individual parts. When trying to interpret the meaning of a medical term, it can be easier to break it up into its individual parts, which we call component parts.
Below you will see examples of terms broken down into their component parts. When you are asked to break down medical terms into their components, you should put a slash between the word parts. You should be able to identify each word part based on the previous content in this chapter. Remember that not all terms have prefixes and some root words are embedded (hidden) in the suffixes.
oste/o/arthr/itis – “inflammation of bone and joint”
oste/o- is a combining form that means “bone”
arthr/o- is a combining form that means “joint”
-itis is a suffix that means “inflammation”
intra/ven/ous – “pertaining to within a vein”
intra- is a prefix that means “within”
ven/o- is a combining form that means “vein”
-ous is a suffix that means “pertaining to”
Notice that when you break down a word, you place slashes between the word parts and a slash on each side of a combining form vowel.
Unless otherwise indicated, material on this page has been adapted from the following resource:
Carter, K., & Rutherford, M. (2020). Building a medical terminology foundation. eCampusOntario. https://ecampusontario.pressbooks.pub/medicalterminology/ licensed under CC BY 4.0