Understanding Difficult Biology Words

Volumes of the Second Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary
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One of the keys to being successful in biology is being able to understand the terminology. Difficult biology words and terms can be made easy to understand by becoming familiar with common prefixes and suffixes used in biology. These affixes, derived from Latin and Greek roots, form the basis for many difficult biology words.

Biology Terms

Below is a list of a few biology words and terms that many biology students find difficult to understand.

By breaking these words down into discrete units, even the most complex terms can be understood.

Autotroph

This word can be separated as follows: Auto - troph.
Auto - means self, troph - means nourish. Autotrophs are organisms capable of self-nourishment.

Cytokinesis

This word can be separated as follows: Cyto - kinesis.
Cyto - means cell, kinesis - means movement. Cytokinesis refers to the movement of the cytoplasm that produces distinct daughter cells during cell division.

Eukaryote

This word can be separated as follows: Eu - karyo - te.
Eu - means true, karyo - means nucleus. A eukaryote is an organism whose cells contain a "true" membrane-bound nucleus.

Heterozygous

This word can be separated as follows: Hetero - zyg - ous.
Hetero - means different, zyg - means yolk or union, ous - means characterized by or full of. Heterozygous refers to a union characterized by the joining of two different alleles for a given trait.

Hydrophilic

This word can be separated as follows: Hydro - philic.
Hydro - refers to water, philic - means love. Hydrophilic means water-loving.

Oligosaccharide

This word can be separated as follows: Oligo - saccharide.
Oligo - means few or little, saccharide - means sugar. An oligosaccharide is a carbohydrate that contains a small number of component sugars.

Osteoblast

This word can be separated as follows: Osteo - blast.
Osteo - means bone, blast - means bud or germ (early form of an organism). An osteoblast is a cell from which bone is derived.

Tegmentum

This word can be separated as follows: Teg - ment - um.
Teg - means cover, ment - refers to mind or brain. The tegmentum is the bundle of fibers that cover the brain.

More Biology Terms

For more information on how to understand difficult biology words or terms see:

Biology Word Dissections - Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. Yes, this is an actual word. What does it mean?