Common Root Classifications

Admit it, at one point in your life as a nursing student/ Registered Nurse, you have encountered unfamiliar words in patient’s charts and nursing books that have left you clueless and thinking. It may seem impossible to be able to learn all of those in a short span of time, but there are techniques on how to make understanding those strange words a bit easier such as a list of common root classifications (e.g. body components, quantity, description, etc.).

Roots of Bodily Concepts

Bodily Concept Greek Root Latin Root Other Root
Digestion -pepsia
Disease -pathy
Eating -phagia

Roots of body parts and components

(Internal Anatomy, External Anatomy, Body Fluids, Body Substances)

Body Part/Component Greek Root Latin Root Other Root
abdomen lapar(o)- abdomin-
aorta aort(o)- aort(o)-
arm brachi(o)-
armpit axill-
artery arteri(o)-
back dors-
big toe allic-
bladder cyst(o)- vesic(o)-
blood haemat-, hemat- (haem-, hem-) sangui-, sanguine-
blood clot thromb(o)-
blood vessel angi(o)- vascul-, vas-
body somat-, som- corpor-
bone oste(o)- ossi-
bone marrow, marrow myel(o)- medull-
brain encephal(o)- cerebr(o)-
breast mast(o)- mamm(o)-
chest steth(o)-
cheek bucc-
ear ot(o)- aur-
eggs, ova oo- ov-
eye ophthalm(o)- ocul(o)- optic(o)[French]
eyelid blephar(o)- cili-; palpebr-
face faci(o)-
fallopian tubes salping(o)-
fat, fatty tissue lip(o)- adip-
finger dactyl(o)- digit-
forehead front(o)-
gallbladder cholecyst(o)- fell-
genitals, sexually undifferentiated gon(o)-, phall(o)-
gland aden(o)-
glans penis or clitoridis balan(o)-
gums gingiv-
hair trich(o)- capill-
hand cheir(o)-, chir(o)- manu-
head cephal(o)- capit(o)-
heart cardi(o)- cordi-
hip, hip-joint cox-
horn cerat(o)- cornu-
intestine enter(o)-
jaw gnath(o)-
kidney nephr(o)- ren-
knee gon- genu-
lip cheil(o)-, chil(o)- labi(o)-
liver hepat(o)- (hepatic-) jecor-
loins, pubic region episi(o)- pudend-
lungs pneumon- pulmon(i)- (pulmo-)
marrow, bone marrow myel(o)- medull-
mind psych- ment-
mouth stomat(o)- or-
muscle my(o)-
nail onych(o)- ungui-
navel omphal(o)- umbilic-
neck trachel(o)- cervic-
nerve; the nervous system neur(o)- nerv-
nipple, teat thele- papill-, mammill-
nose rhin(o)- nas-
ovary oophor(o)- ovari(o)-
pelvis pyel(o)- pelv(i)-
penis pe(o)-
pupil (of the eye) cor-, core-, coro-
rib pleur(o)- cost(o)-
rib cage thorac(i)-, thorac(o)-
shoulder om(o)- humer(o)-
sinus sinus-
skin dermat(o)- (derm-) cut-, cuticul-
skull crani(o)-
stomach gastr(o)- ventr(o)-
testis orchi(o)-, orchid(o)-
throat (upper throat cavity) pharyng(o)-
throat (lower throat cavity/voice box]) laryng(o)-
thumb pollic-
tooth odont(o)- dent(i)-
tongue gloss-, glott- lingu(a)-
toe dactyl(o)- digit-
tumour cel-, onc(o)- tum-
ureter ureter(o)- ureter(o)-
urethra urethr(o)-, urethr(a)- urethr(o)-, urethr(a)-
urine, urinary System ur(o)- urin(o)-
uterine tubes sarping(o)- sarping(o)-
uterus hyster(o)-, metr(o)- uter(o)-
vagina colp(o)- vagin-
vein phleb(o)- ven-
vulva episi(o)- vulv-
womb hyster(o)-, metr(o)- uter(o)-
wrist carp(o)- carp(o)-

Roots of Color

Color Greek Root in English Latin Root in English Other Root
black melano- nigr-
blue cyano-
gray, grey polio-
green chlor(o)- vir-
purple porphyr(o)- purpur-, purpureo-
red erythr(o)-, rhod(o)- rub-, rubr-
red-yellow cirrh(o)-
white leuc-, leuk- alb-
yellow xanth(o)- flav- jaun – [French]

Roots of description

[Size, Shape, Strength, etc.]

Description Greek Root in English Latin Root in English Other Root
bad, incorrect cac(o)-, dys- mal(e)-
bent, crooked ankyl(o)- prav(i)-
big mega-, megal(o)- magn(i)-
biggest megist- maxim-
broad, wide eury- lat(i)-
cold cry(o)- frig(i)-
dead necr(o)- mort-
equal is(o)- equ(i)-
false pseud(o)- fals(i)-
female, feminine thely-
flat platy- plan(i)-
good, well eu- ben(e)-, bon(i)-
great mega-, megal(o)- magn(i)-
hard scler(o)- dur(i)-
heavy bar(o)- grav(i)-
hollow coel(o)- cav(i)-
huge megal(o)- magn(i)-
incorrect, bad cac(o)-, dys- mal(e)-
irregular poikil(o)
large; extremely large mega- magn(i)-
largest megist- maxim-
long macr(o)- long(i)-
male, masculine arseno- vir-
narrow sten(o)- angust(i)-
new neo- nov(i)-
normal, correct orth(o)- rect(i)-
old paleo- veter-
sharp oxy- ac-
short brachy- brev(i)-
small micr(o)- parv(i)- (rare)
smallest minim-
slow brady- tard(i)-
fast tachy- celer-
soft malac(o)- moll(i)-
straight orth(o)- rect(i)-
thick pachy- crass(i)-
varied, various poikilo- vari-
well, good eu- ben(e)-
wide, broad eury- lat(i)-

Roots of position

Description Greek Root in English Latin Root in English Other Root
around peri- circum-
left levo- laev(o)-, sinistr-
middle mes(o)- medi-
right dexi(o)- dextr(o)-
surrounding peri- circum-

 Roots of quantity

(Amount, Quantity)

Description Greek Root in English Latin Root in English Other Root
double diplo- dupli-
equal iso- equi-
few oligo- pauci-
half hemi- semi- demi- (French)
many, much poly- multi-
twice dis- bis-



Liane Clores, RN MAN

Currently an Intensive Care Unit nurse, pursuing a degree in Master of Arts in Nursing Major in Nursing Service Administration. Has been a contributor of Student Nurses Quarterly, Vox Populi, The Hillside Echo and the Voice of Nightingale publications. Other experience include: Medical-Surgical, Pediatric, Obstetric, Emergency and Recovery Room Nursing.

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