Prefixes and Suffixes

We will have a prefix/suffix structure, built out of constants (variables would be costly, and we would get many conflicts), which we shall use to unravel unknown words. The prefix or suffix will be associated with a word, such as

Abdomen ASSOCIATE abdomen

We already have many of these – we have abdomen ASSOCIATE abdominal

There are prefixes and suffixes which associate with relations – some of them collocations.

-al ASSOCIATE ToPertain To (the collocated relation)

We can add a prefix to a suffix to deconstruct a word, or we can remove a prefix, check whether we have the remaining word in the dictionary, and repeat the process if we find another prefix.

The approach isn’t much different to unravelling noun phrases with multiple nouns and adjectives.

We should have a faster means of finding appropriate prefixes than just a straight search (about 500), although prefixes and suffixes will be kept in different structures.

Particular prefixes will carry indication of the letters that can be added to construct a word – the (o) , (i), (e) and (io) shown in the table.

Most prefixes and suffixes refer to objects, but some refer to relations -

ac - pertaining to

ad - increase

aux - self (this is a reference to the next object - the word containing the prefix needs to be parsed)

relations that act on objects described in the word. It is necesary to have relational logic to make sense of a combination of such prefixes or suffixes.

Medical literature frequently has combinations of prefixes and suffixes built up - "peritoneo-systemic" - that do not appear in any medical dictionary. If we are to read such text, the system will need as good a knowledge of prefixes and suffixes as a skilled medico. It will also help to avoid having to build semantic structures for everything - arthritis is easily reduced to the meaning:  bone joint inflammation.

The structure, perhaps pruned a lot, will become part of models in other areas – engineering, etc.

We have used the prefix table from Wikipedia a fragment is shown below (the quality is poor - we have cleaned it up).,_suffixes_and_prefixes

Some prefixes, like "aniso", are combinations of two prefixes - we have followed the table.

As you quickly discover, a prefix like "an" can have several meanings - analgia, anus - a MEANING operator is provided.

A fragment of the table:

Prefix or suffix


Origin language and etymology


a-, an- Denotes an absence of, without Ancient Greek ?-/??- (a-/an-), without, not Apathy, Analgia
ab- away from Latin Abduction
abdomin(o)- Of or relating to the abdomen Latin (abdomen), abdomen, fat around the belly Abdomen
-ac, -acal pertaining to Greek -a??? (-akos) cardiac, hydrophobiac, pharmacomaniacal
acr(o)- extremity, topmost Greek ????? (akron), highest or farthest point Acrocrany, acromegaly, acroosteolysis, acroposthia
-acusis hearing Greek ????st???? (acoustikos), of or for hearing paracusis
-ad toward, in the direction of dorsad
ad- increase, adherence, motion toward, very Latin Adduction
-aemia (BrE) blood condition Greek ??a?µ?a, without blood Anaemia
ante- Describing something as positioned in front of another thing Latin (ante), before, in front of antepartum
anti- Describing something as 'against' or 'opposed to' another Ancient Greek a?t? (anti), against Antibody, antipsychotic
apo- separated from, derived from Ancient Greek ?p? Apoptosis
arch(i,e,o) first, primitive archinephron : first formed kidney
arsen(o)- Of or pertaining to a male; masculine Greek (arsein)
arteri(o)- Of or pertaining to an artery Ancient Greek ??t???a (arterķa), a wind-pipe, artery Artery, Arteriole
arthr(o)- Of or pertaining to the joints, limbs Ancient Greek a????? (arthros), a joint, limb Arthritis
articul(o)- joint Latin articulum Articulation
-ary pertaining to Latin -arius bilary tract
-ase enzyme Greek d??stas??, division Lactase
-asthenia weakness Greek, ?s???e?a Myasthenia gravis
aut(o)- self Greek a?t?- Autoimmune
aux(o)- increase; growth auxocardia : enlargement of the heart

Medical Design Notes