Medical Terminology: Endocrine Root Words and Anatomical Terms

By Beverley Henderson, Jennifer Lee Dorsey

Time for some medical terminology fun! The glands of the endocrine system all produce different hormones that help keep the systems of the body running like clockwork. If you consider these glands the gatekeepers of the hormones they produce and send, you can consider prefixes and suffixes the gatekeepers of the root words. They both help tell you more about the meaning of the medical term.

Here are some prefixes and suffixes associated with the endocrine system:

Prefix What It Means
Eu- Normal
Ex-, exo- Outside, outward
Hyper – Excessive, above normal
Hypo- Below normal
Pan- All
Suffix What It Means
-drome Run, running
-emia Blood condition
-genesis Production
-ism Condition
-tropin Stimulating the function of

Next, check out the nitty-gritty of endocrine terminology. As always, the root words and combining forms let you know more about the condition or location involved with each term.

Suffix What It Means
Acr/o Extremities, height
Aden/o Gland
Adren/o Adrenal glands
Andr/o Male
Calc/o Calcium
Cortic/o Cortex
Crin/o To secrete
Dips/o Thirst
Estr/o Female
Galact/o Milk
Gluc/o, glyc/o Sugar
Gonad/o Sex glands
Home/o Sameness or unchanged
Immun/o Safe
Kal/i Potassium
Lact/o Milk
Natr/o Sodium
Pancreat/o Pancreas
Parathyroid/o Parathyroid gland
Pituitar/o Pituitary gland
Radi/o Radioactive
Somat/o Body
Thyr/o thyroid/o Thyroid gland
Toxic/o Poison
Ur/o Urine

It is, without a doubt, incredibly vital that the components of the endocrine system work in harmony because the system is a fairly complex collection of glands that produce a variety of hormones. The specialty study of this system of glands is known as endocrinology, with the physician in charge known as an endocrinologist.

Here’s a closer look at even more aspects of this highly influential system. First, take a look at some hormone-related terms:

  • Adrenalin/epinephrine: Adrenalin is a traditional trademark for the preparation of epinephrine (adrenaline) in the United States

  • Antidiuretic hormone (ADH): Hormone secreted to stimulate water reabsorption

  • Cortisol: Hormone secreted by adrenal cortex

  • Epinephrine: Hormone produced by adrenal medulla

  • Glucagon: Hormone produced by pancreas in islets of Langerhans that stimulates the release of sugar

  • Growth hormones (GH and hGH): Secreted hormones stimulating the growth of long bones; also called somatotropin

  • Hydrocortisone: Cortisol

  • Insulin: Hormone secreted by islets of Langerhans; essential for the proper uptake and metabolism of sugar in cells

  • Islets of Langerhans: Endocrine cells of the pancreas

  • Melatonin: Hormone secreted by pineal gland

  • Oxytocin: Hormone secreted to stimulate uterus to contract during labor

  • Renin: Hormone secreted by kidneys to raise blood pressure

  • Somatotropin: Growth hormone

  • Steroids: Complex substance derived from cholesterol of which many hormones are made

  • Target tissue: Cells toward which the effects of the hormone are directed

  • TSH: Hormone secretion that stimulates the thyroid gland to produce thyroxine (T3) and triiodothyronine (T4)

  • Vasopressin: Antidiuretic hormone ADH

Next, take a look at some of the other substances associated with the endocrine system. Though not hormones, these are vital products of this system, and help keep the body functioning properly.

  • Calcium: Mineral substance necessary for proper functioning of body tissues and bones

  • Electrolytes: Mineral salt found in blood and tissues; necessary for proper functioning of body cells; potassium, sodium, and calcium are examples of necessary electrolytes

  • Glucose: Simple sugar

  • Glycogen: Starch, a storage form of sugar

  • Iodine: Chemical element composing a large part of thyroxine, produced by the thyroid gland

Protein comes from the Greek protos, meaning “first.”