Greek Tidbits in Medical Terms

Part of the Medical Terminology For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Most common medical terms used today are derived from Latin or Greek. After all, the Greeks were the founders of modern medicine. Examples of medical terminology used today based on the Greek language are

  • The word semantics is derived from the Greek semantikos, meaning “significant.”

  • Coccyx comes from the Greek word for “cuckoo” -- it resembles a cuckoo’s beak.

  • Remember: myo (muscle) is not to be confused with myelo (bone marrow).

  • Diaphoresis comes from the Greek dia meaning “through” and phoreo meaning “I carry.” Translated, it means “the carrying through of perspiration.”

  • Glaucoma: Greek glaukos means “blue-grey,” and oma means “a condition.” In glaucoma, gray color replaces the black pupil.

  • Both Latin and Greek play a role in the roots of the word for heart, cardium. This word stems from the Greek word kardia.

  • Adenoid comes from the Greek aden, meaning “gland,” and cidos, meaning “like.” The term was once used for the prostate gland.

  • Pancreas is so named because of its fleshy appearance. Greek pan means “all,” and krea means “flesh.”

  • Endocrine: Take endo and add it to the Greek krinein, which means “to separate.”

  • Paraplegia: The Greek para means “beside,” and plegia means “paralysis.”

  • The Greek word pyelos means “tub-shaped vessel,” which describes the shape of the kidney.

  • Venereal is derived from Venus, the goddess of love. It was thought in ancient times to be one of the misfortunes of love.

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Medical Terminology For Dummies Cheat Sheet

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