Biology Prefixes and Suffixes: phago- or phag-

Macrophage Engulfing Bacteria
This computer artwork depicts phagocytosis as a macrophage white blood cell engulfs bacteria (orange). The pathogens are broken down and destroyed once they have been engulfed, and the remaining parts are ejected (far right) by the cell.

DAVID MACK / Science Photo Library / Getty Images

Biology Prefixes and Suffixes: (phago- or phag-)


The prefix (phago- or phag-) means to eat, consume, or destroy. It is derived from the Greek phagein, which means to consume. Related suffixes include: (-phagia), (-phage), and (-phagy).


Phage (phag - e) - a virus that infects and destroys bacteria, also called a bacteriophage. In medical applications, they are very specific so can infect and destroy bacteria without harming the surrounding human cells. Phages are some of the most numerous organisms on Earth.

Phagocyte (phago - cyte) - a cell, like a white blood cell, that engulfs and digests waste materials and microorganisms. They help to protect the body by getting rid of harmful materials and organisms through phagocytosis.

Phagocytic (phago - cytic) - of or referring to a phagocyte.

Phagocytose (phago - cyt - ose) - ingesting by phagocytosis.

Phagocytosis (phago - cyt - osis) - the process of engulfing and destroying microbes, such as bacteria, or foreign particles by phagocytes. Phagocytosis is a type of endocytosis.

Phagodepression (phago - depression) - a lessening or depression of the need or urge to feed.

Phagodynamometer (phago - dynamo - meter) - an instrument used to measure the force required to chew various food types. It can also measure the force that the jaws exert in moving the teeth together.

Phagology (phago - logy) - the study of food consumption and eating habits. Examples include the fields of dietetics and nutrition science.

Phagolysis (phago - lysis) - the destruction of a phagocyte.

Phagolysosome (phago - lysosome) - a vesicle within a cell that is formed from the fusion of a lysosome (digestive enzyme containing sac) with a phagosome. The enzymes digest material obtained through phagocytosis.

Phagomania (phago - mania) - a condition characterized by the compulsive desire to eat. Since the desire is compulsive, the urge to keep consuming food usually can not be satisfied.

Phagophobia (phago - phobia) - an irrational fear of swallowing, typically brought on by anxiety. It can often by manifested by complaints of swallowing difficulty without any apparent physical reasons for said difficulty. Relatively speaking, phagophobia is quite rare.

Phagophore (phago - phore) - the double membrane that will enclose components of the cytoplasm during macroautophagy,.

Phagosome (phago - some) - a vesicle or vacuole in a cell's cytoplasm that contains material obtained from phagocytosis. It is usually formed inside a cell by an inward fold off of the cell membrane.

Phagostimulant (phago - stimulant) - a substance that elevates the production of phagocytes in an organism. In some organisms, amino acids can serve as phagostimulants.

Phagostimulation (phago - stimulation) - a heightening or elevation of the need or urge to feed.

Phagotherapy (phago - therapy) - the treatment of certain bacterial infections with bacteriophages (viruses that destroy bacteria). Phagotherapy can be very helpful in treating antibiotic-resistant infections.

Phagotroph (phago - troph) - an organism that acquires nutrients by phagocytosis (engulfing and digesting organic matter). Some examples of phagotrophs can include some types of slime molds, some sponge species, and protozoa.

Phagotype (phago - type) - refers to bacterial strains that are sensitive to certain types of bacteriophages.

Phagotyping (phago - typing) - refers to phagotype classification as well as analysis.

phago- or phag- Word Dissection

Just as students might perform a live dissection on a frog, using prefixes and suffixes to 'dissect' unknown biology words is key to success in biology. Now that you are familiar with phago- or phag- words, you shouldn't have any trouble 'dissecting' other related and important biology terms like mycetophagous and dysphagic.

Additional Biology Prefixes and Suffixes

For more information on understanding complex biology terms, see:

Biology Word Dissections - Do you know what pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis is?

Biology Suffixes Phagia and Phage - find out additional information about the suffix (-phagia) that refers to the act of swallowing or eating.

Biology Prefixes and Suffixes: -phyll or -phyl - the suffix (-phyll) refers to leaves. Find out additional information about -phyll words like bacteriochlorophyll and heterophyllous.

Biology Prefixes and Suffixes: tel- or telo- - the prefixes tel- and telo- are derived from telos in Greek.


  • Reece, Jane B., and Neil A. Campbell. Campbell Biology. Benjamin Cummings, 2011.
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Bailey, Regina. "Biology Prefixes and Suffixes: phago- or phag-." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Bailey, Regina. (2021, February 16). Biology Prefixes and Suffixes: phago- or phag-. Retrieved from Bailey, Regina. "Biology Prefixes and Suffixes: phago- or phag-." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 26, 2023).