Learning works better when you condition your mind to become more analytical.

One way to do this is to look past the obvious when you read a word, breaking the word down into its component parts and discovering the meaning of each part.  This can be done for many; but not all words.

Some words have very clear derivatives whereas others are not so distinct in in where they have evolved from. Do not expect to see that exact same patterns in all words.

Medical terms sometimes consist of three parts - a root, a prefix and a suffix. When the three are combined it will express the meaning of the term. These types of words are called constructed words as they usually contain all three elements i.e. prefix, root and suffix.

The root of a word (known as the word root) contains the basic meaning (definition) of the word often referring to a body part or system e.g. cardi (heart). There may be more than one word root in a medical term and these are often combined with a combining vowel to make them easier to pronounce.

A prefix may or may not be present, but where it is used, it is placed in front of the word to change its meaning (pre means before), or to identify the core meaning of the word. Example: A prefix added to cardia (heart) will identify the type of heart condition e.g. dextrocardia (dextro means right) so in this case dextrodardia indicates that the heart is on the right side of the body, instead of the common left.

Another example: the prefixes ‘a’ or ‘an’ are much used in medical terminology and mean without for example:

anaemia: an = without/lack of, aemia = blood
anorexia: an = without, orexia pertains to the appetite (anorexia = without appetite).

A prefix may also indicate a time, place, location or status. For example take the term Intravenous meaning “within the veins”. Intra (the prefix) means ‘within’, ven (the word root) means vein, ous (the suffix) means ‘pertaining to’.

A suffix is found after the word root(s) and can also change the meaning or function of the word root. It can modify its forms to a different part of speech (a noun, a verb or an adjective) or may refer to a condition, disorder of a part of the body or medical procedure to treat it. For example, itis is a very common suffix meaning inflammation e.g. arthritis. Another example is ectomy is another well-known suffix that means ‘surgical removal of’ as in appendectomy (removal of the appendix).