URL of this page: https://medlineplus.gov/medwords/breakitup1.html
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Break It Up


Some medical words are made up of multiple parts. They might make more sense if you break the word into different parts.

Breaking up isn't hard to do! Long medical words can have a:

  • Beginning (or prefix): If there's a beginning, it can be about size, shape, color, direction, and amount.
  • Middle (or root): The middle is often a part of the body.
  • Ending (or suffix): If there's an ending, it can be about the same thing as the beginning, like size, or it can be about a test or it can describe a problem.

Breaking up long words.

Transesophageal has a:

  • Beginning (or prefix) of trans
  • Middle (or root) of esophagi
  • Ending (or suffix) of eal

Echocardiogram has a:

  • Beginning (or prefix) of echo
  • Middle (or root) of cardio
  • Ending (or suffix) of gram

Things to remember:

Not all medical words have a beginning or ending. Sometimes word pieces can appear in different places, like cardi in these words cardiologist and myocardial. We'll cover what those words mean in the upcoming chapters.

Try a short quiz #1 Let's See What You Know or proceed to the next chapter on Words Roots.

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