Biology Prefixes and Suffixes: tel- or telo-

A telomere is a region of the DNA sequence at the end of a chromosome. Their function is to protect the ends of the chromosome from degradation. Here they are visible as highlights at the tips of the chromosomes.

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Biology Prefixes and Suffixes: tel- or telo-


The prefixes (tel- and telo-) mean end, terminus, extremity, or completion. They are derived from the Greek (telos) meaning an end or goal. The prefixes (tel- and telo-) are also variants of (tele-), which means distant.

tel- and telo- Examples: (meaning end)

Telencephalon (tel - encephalon) - the front portion of the forebrain consisting of the cerebrum and diencephalon. It is also called the end brain.

Teloblast (telo - blast) - in annelids, a large cell, usually located on the growing end of an embryo, which divides to form many smaller cells. The smaller cells are aptly named blast cells.

Telocentric (telo - centric) - refers to a chromosome whose centromere is located near or at the end of the chromosome.

Telodendrimer (telo - dendrimer) - is a chemical term that refers to having a dendrimer that branches at one of its ends. Dendrimers are polymers that have branches of atoms from a central spine.

Telodendron (telo - dendron) - the terminal branches of a nerve cell axon.

Telodynamic (telo - dynamic) - relating to a system of using ropes and pulleys to transmit power over large distances.

Telogen (telo - gen) - the end phase of the hair growth cycle in which the hair stops growing. It is the resting phase of the cycle. In chemistry, the term can also refer to a transfer agent that is used in telomerization.

Telogenesis (telo - genesis) - refers to the last state in the growth cycle of a feather or a hair.

Teloglia (telo - glia) - accumulation of glial cells known as Schwann cells at the end of a motor nerve fiber.

Telolecithal (telo - lecithal) - refers to having the yolk at or near an end of an egg.

Telomerase (telo - mer - ase) - an enzyme in chromosome telomeres that helps preserve the length of chromosomes during cell division. This enzyme is active primarily in cancer cells and reproductive cells.

Telomere (telo - mere) - a protective cap located at the end of a chromosome.

Telopeptide (telo - peptide) - an amino acid sequence at the end of a protein that is removed upon maturation.

Telopeptidyl (telo - peptidyl) - of or relating to a telopeptide.

Telophase (telo - phase) - the final stage of the nuclear division processes of mitosis and meiosis in the cell cycle.

Telosynapsis (telo - synapsis) - end to end point of contact between pairs of homologous chromosomes during the formation of gametes.

Telotaxis (telo - taxis) - movement or orientation in response to some type of external stimulus. Light is an example of such a stimulus.

Telotrochal (telo - trochal) - in some annelid larvae refers to having both cilia in front of the 'mouth' as well as on the back end of the organism.

Telotrophic (telo - trophic) - refers to nutritional secretion from the end of an ovariole.

tele- Examples: (meaning distant)

telemetry (tele - metry) - transmission of device readings and measurements to a remote source usually via radio waves, via wires, or some other transmission mechanism. The transmissions are usually sent to recording or receiving stations to be analyzed. The term can also refer to biotelemetry.

Telephone (tele - phone) - an instrument used to transmit sound over large distances.

Telephotography (tele - photography) - refers to either the transmission of photographs over some distance or the process of taking photographs with a telephoto lens attached to a camera.

Telescope (tele - scope) - an optical instrument that uses lenses to magnify distant objects for viewing.

Television (tele - vision) - an electronic broadcast system and related devices that allows images and sound to be transmitted and received over large distances.

tel-, telo-, or tele- Word Analysis

In your study of biology, it is important to understand the meaning of prefixes and suffixes. By understanding prefixes and suffixes like tel-, telo-, and tele-, biology terms and concepts become more understandable. Now that you've reviewed the tel- and telo- examples (meaning end) and the tele- examples (meaning distant) above, you should have no problems discerning the meaning of additional words that are based on these prefixes.


  • Reece, Jane B., and Neil A. Campbell. Campbell Biology. Benjamin Cummings, 2011.
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Bailey, Regina. "Biology Prefixes and Suffixes: tel- or telo-." ThoughtCo, Jul. 29, 2021, Bailey, Regina. (2021, July 29). Biology Prefixes and Suffixes: tel- or telo-. Retrieved from Bailey, Regina. "Biology Prefixes and Suffixes: tel- or telo-." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 9, 2023).