Medical Terminology For Dummies
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The roots, as always, are essential medical terminology knowledge because once you master these roots (those good ol’ Greek and Latin ones, that is), you can break down any skeletal-related word and discover its meaning. Once you’ve gotten to know the specific parts of the skeletal system a bit better, it’s time to put your expertise into practice by breaking down the root words into meanings and useful applications.

Here’s a list of important skeletal system root words and combining forms.

Root Word What It Means
Kyph/o Humpback (posterior curvature of thoracic spine)
Lamin/o Lamina (part of the vertebral arch)
Lord/o Curve or swayback (lordosis: anterior curvature in lumbar spine)
Lumb/o Lower back, lumbar region
Myel/o Bone marrow
Oste/o Bone
Orth/o Straight
Scoli/o Crooked, bent (scoliosis: lateral curvature of spine)
Spondyl/o Vertebra (referring to conditions of the structure)
Vertebr/o Vertebra (referring to or describing the structure)

Familiarize yourself with this list of the combining forms used with bones.

Combining Form Example What It Means
Acetabul/o Acetabulum Hip joint
Calcane/o Cancaneus Heel
Carp/o Carpals Wrist bones
Clavic/o, clavicul/o Clavicle Collar bone
Cost/o Costal Ribs
Crani/o Cranium Skull
Femor/o Femur Upper leg bone
Fibul/o Fibula Lower leg bone
Humer/o Humerus Upper arm bone
Ili/o Ilium Pelvic bone
Ischi/o Ischium Pelvic bone
Lumb/o Spine Lumbar region
Malleol/o Malleolus Ankle
Mandibul/o Mandible Lower jaw
Maxill/o Maxilla Upper jaw
Metacarp/o Metacarpals Bones of hand
Metatars/o Metatarsals Bones of foot
Olecran/o Olecranon Elbow
Patell/o Patella Knee cap
Phalang/o Phalanges Bones of fingers and toes
Pub/o Pubis Portion of pelvic bone
Radi/o Radius Lower arm bone
Sacr/o Sacrum Sacral area of spine
Scapul/o Scapula Shoulder blade
Stern/o Sternum Breastbone
Tars/o Tarsals Ankle bones
Tibi/o Tibia Lower leg bone
Uln/o Ulna Lower arm bone

Now, check out this list of the combining forms used with joints.

Combining Form What It Means
Arthr/o Joint
Articul/o Joint
Burs/o Bursa
Chondr/o Cartilage
Disk/o Intervertebral disk
Fibros/o Fibrous
Menisc/o Meniscus
Synovi/o Synovium
Ten/o, tend/o, tendin/o Tendon

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