The original Greek and Latin meanings of neuroscience words: Prefixes and Terminology

 

Prefixes to Commonly Used Terms in Neuroscience

PREFIX		MEANING
ab-		away from
acou-		hear
act-		do, act
ad-, aff-	to
aden-		gland
aer-            air, gas
alg-		pain
alve-		tough
ambi-           both sides
andr-		man
angi-           blood vessel, duct
ante-		before
anti-		against, counter
arachn-		spider
arch-		beginning, origin
arthr-          joint
articul-        joint
audi-           hearing
aur-            ear
ax-, axon-	axis
bar-		weight
bi-             two, double
blast-		bud
brachi-		arm
brady-		slow
capit-          head
cata-           down
caud-		tail
cell-		cell, room
centr-		center
cephal-		head
cerv-           neck
chord-		string, cord
chro-		color
chron-          time
contra-		against, counter
corpus-		body
crani-		skull
cry-            cold
cut-		skin
dendr-		tree
dent-           tooth
derm-           skin
dors-		back
dys-		bad, improper
PREFIX		MEANING
ect-		outside
electr-		amber
encephal-       brain
end-		inside
epi-		upon, after
esthe-		feel, perceive
eu-		good, normal
exo-		outside
extra-          outside of, beyond
fibr-           fibrous, fibers
glom-           little ball
gloss-          tongue
graph-		write, scratch
hemi-		half
hyper-		above, beyond, extreme
hypno-		sleep
hypo-		below, under
inflamm-        setting on fire
infra-		beneath
inter-		among, between
intra-		inside
lingu-          tongue
medi-		middle
mega-           large
meningo-	membrane
mes-		middle
meta-		beyond
micro-		small
multi-          many
ophthalm-       eye
para-		beside, beyond
peri-		around
phag-           eat
phon-           sound
phot-           light
poly-		many
proprio-        self, one's own
resti-          rope
retro-		backwards
somat-		body
spondyl -       vertebra
sub-		under, below
supra-		above
syringo-        pipe, tube
tel-		end
Please send additions to this list to me at:chudler@u.washington.edu.

Neuroanatomical, Neurophysiological and Neuropsychological Terminology

This table lists the original Greek and Latin meanings of neuroscience words. Most of the words are neuroanatomical terms, but neurological symptoms and disorders are also included.
WORDMEANING
abducens…..drawing away
ablation…..carrying away
acetylcholine…..vinegar bile
adrenalin…..near the kidney
afferent…..to carry
agnosia…..no knowledge
alar…..wing-like
alexia…..no words
alveus…..canal
amacrine…..no long fiber
ambidextrous…..both right
ambiguus…..doubtful
amblyopia…..dull vision
amnesia…..forgetfulness
ampulla…..small bottle
amygdala…..almond
analgesia…..no pain
aneurysm…..widening
anesthesia…..no sensation
ansa…..urn handle
antitoxin…..against poison
aphagia…..no eat
aphasia…..no speech
aqueduct…..water canal
arachnoid…..spider web-like
arbor vitae…..tree of life
arcuate n……bow shaped
astigmatism…..not a point
astrocyte…..star-like cell
ataxia…..not orderly
atrophy…..want of nourishment
auditory…..to hear
aura…..breath, breeze
auricle…..a little ear
autonomic…..self law
axon…..axis, axle
basilar…..base
bouton…..button
brachium…..arm
bregma…..front of the head
calcarine…..spur-shaped
callosum…..hard, tough
cannula…..reed
carotid…..to put to sleep
cataplexy…..down stroke, seizure
catatonia…..down tone
cauda…..tail
cauda equina…..horse tail
caudate…..tail
causalgia…..burning pain
cenereum…..ash gray
cephalic…..head
cerebellum…..little brain
cerebrum…..brain
ceruleus…..blue
cerumen…..wax
cervical…..neck
chiasm…..a crossing
chorea…..to dance
choroid…..like a membrane
ciliary…..eyelash
cinereum…..ashen-hued
cingulum…..girdle or belt
circadian…..about a day
cistern…..reservior or well
claustrum…..barrier
coccyx…..cuckoo
cochlea…..snail shell
colliculus…..little hill
conscious…..aware
conus…..cone or peg
coma…..deep sleep
commissure…..joining together
conjunctivum…..join
convolution…..a turn, a folding
convulsion…..pulling together
cornu…..horn
corona…..crown
corpus…..body
cortex…..bark, shell, outer layer
cribiform…..sieve-like
crista…..crest
cruciate…..cross-shaped
crus…..leg
culmen…..ridge, summit
cuneate…..wedge
cupula…..little tub
decussation…..crossing
dementia…..away from mind
dendrite…..tree
dentate…..notched
dura…..hard
dyskinesia…..improper motion
edema…..swelling
efferent….carry out (away)
emboliform…..plug-like
encephalitis…..brain inflammation
encephalogram…..brain writing
ependyma…..upper garment
epilepsy…..seizure
ethmoid…..sieve-like
falx…..sickle
fasciculus…..little bundle
femoral…..thigh
filum…..thread
fimbria…..fringe
fissure…..cleft or slit
flocculus…..tuft of wool
folium…..leaf
foramen…..opening
fornix…..arch
fossa…..trench, channel
fovea…..pit, depression
fundus…..bottom
funiculus…..little cord
fusiform…..spindle-shaped
ganglion…..knot, swelling
genu…..knee
geniculate…..bent like a knee
glabrous…..bald
gland…..acorn
glia…..glue
globus pallidus…..pale ball
glossal…..tongue
gracile…..slender
gyrus…..ring, circle
habenula…..rein
hallucination…..to wander in the mind
hemorrhage…..to burst forth with blood
hippocampus…..sea horse
hypnosis…..sleep
hypoglossal…..under the tongue
hypophysis…..down growth
hypothalamus….under thalamus
incus…..anvil
infundibulum…..funnel
insula…..island
iris…..rainbow
lamina…..layer, thin plate
lemniscus…..woolen band or filet
lens…..lentil
lenticular…..shaped like a lens
limbic…..border, hem, fringe
lingula…..little tongue
lumbar…..pertaining to the loins
macula…..spot
malleus…..hammer
mater (dura)…..mother
medulla…..innermost, marrow
melanin…..black
meninges…..membrane
meningitis…..membrane inflammation
microglia…..small glue
myelin…..marrow
myopia…..to shut eye
narcolepsy…..numbness seizure
narcotic…..benumbing, deadening
neuron…..nerve
node…..knot
nucleus…..nut
obex…..barrier
oblongata…..rather long
oculomotor…..eye movement
oligodendrocyte…..few tree cell
operculus…..cover, lid
optic…..for sight
oscilloscope…..to examine swinging
pallidus…..pale
paralysis…..to loosen
paranoia…..mind beside itself
parietal…..wall
patella…..little plate
peduncle…..stemlike
pellucidum…..translucent
pia…..soft
pineal…..pine cone
pinna….wing
piriform…..pear-shaped
pituitary…..slime, mucous
placebo…..to please
plexus…..a braid
pons…..bridge
potential…..power
pterygoid…..wing-shaped
pulp…..flesh
pulvinar…..cushion, pillow, couch
pupil…..doll, little girl
putamen…..shell
pyramis…..pyramid
pyriform…..pear-shaped
quadrigemina…..four twins
rabies…..to rage
ramus…..branch
raphe…..seam
rectus…..straight
restiform…..rope-like
reticular…..net-like
rhodopsin…..rose eye
rostral…..beak
rubro…..red
sacral…..sacred, holy
sagittal…..arrow
schizophrenia…..split mind
sclera…..hard
sella turcica…..Turkish saddle
semilunar…..half moon
serotonin…..blood stretching
septum…..wall, partition
sinus…..a hollow
soma…..body
somnambulism…..sleep walk
somniloquism…..sleep speak (talk)
spine…..thorn
splenium…..bandage
stapes…..stirrup
stellate…..star
stimulate…..to goad
striated…..striped
substantia nigra…..black substance
sulcus…..groove, trench, furrow
synapse…..connection
synesthesia…..together perception
tapetum…..carpet
tectum…..roof
tegmentum…..covering
temporal…..time
tentorium…..tent
thalamus…..inner chamber
thoracic…..chest
trabecula…..little beam
tremor….to shake
trigeminal…..three twins
trochlear…..pulley
tubercle…..swelling
uncus…..hook
vagus…..wandering
velum…..covering
ventricle…..small cavity
vermis…..worm
vertex…..top, summit
vesicle…..blister, bladder
vitreous…..glassy
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[See all words and meanings in a PDF file.]


Please send me additions to this list at: chudler@u.washington.edu

faculty.washington.edu/chudler/neuropre.html/

faculty.washington.edu/chudler/neuroroot.html/

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