Seafriends - Alphabet Soup

A dicitonary of Latin and Greek words frequently used in scientific names for organisms and terms.

For the moment, this list has been suspended for later completion, since all strange words are being explained when they are being used. This list will be updated gradually as our web site grows. Eventually it may become very useful to many.

Use the Edit/Find option on your browser to quickly find words of interest. Do you disagree with our interpretation or can you shed more light on terminology, please contact us.

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abyss-: bottomless (Gk abussos, L=abyssus= bottomless)

acanth-: sharp? (Gk akanthos, akantha=thorn, sharp point)

-act: centre line from axon (Gk axon=axis, central line)

acuti-: sharp, pointed (L acus=needle, acuere=to sharpen)

alata: winged (L ala=wing)

an-, a-: without

-androus, andro-: male (Gk andros=male)

ante-: before (L ante=before)

anti-: against (Gk anti=against)

antho-: flower (Gk anthos=flower)

anthropo-: human (Gk anthropos=human being)

aptera: wingless (Gk pterus=wing)

archi- arche-: chief, main (Gk arkhe=rule)

argentea: silvery (L argentum=silver)

-ascens: becoming (L ascendere=to climb)

-ator: suffix to form a noun from a Latin verb

atro-: cruel, savage, terrible (L atrox=cruel)

atypic-: atypical, non conforming (L a-=not typicus=typical; Gk tupikos)

aurea, aureatus: golden (L aurum=gold, aureus=golden)

aureola: halo or circle of light (L aureola corona=golden crown)

azurea: deep sky-blue colour (L azzurum=blue, French azure=blue)

balanos: acorn (Gk balanos=acorn)

bathy-: deep (Gk bathus=deep)

-bella: pretty, beautiful(L bella, bellus=beautiful)

bi-,bin-: two, twice

bio-: of living beings. Gk bios=(course of) human life

brunnea: brown

bryo-: moss (Gk bruon=moss)

-bunda, abunda-: plentiful, abundant (L abundantia)

canthus: the corners of the eye, eye-shaped? (Gk Canthus, Gk Kanthos)

carina-: keel (L carina=keel). carinata=keeled

carnea: flesh-coloured (L caro carnis=flesh)

-carp, -carpo,: fruit (Gk karpos=fruit)

cauda-: tail like (L cauda=tail), caudal=of the tail

-cene: common (Gk koines=common)

chela-, chelo-: claw (Gk khele=claw)

chloro-: green (Gk khloros=green)

circa-: about (L circa= about)

clado-, clade-: a group of organisms evolved from a common ancestor (Gk klados=branch, shoot)

coccinea: scarlet-red (Gk kokkos=berry)

communis: common, occurring often (L communis=common)

corda-: heart shaped (with rounded basal lobes, e.g.) (L cordis=heart)

crena-: notched (L crena=notch). crenata=having a notched edge or rounded teeth. crenulata=with rounded small teeth on the margin.

ctenoid: toothed, combed (Gk kteis,ktenos=comb)

cuspi-, cuspidi-,cuspidata: pointed, peaked (L cuspis=point, apex; cuspidis= pointed)

cyan-: of greenish-blue colour (Gk kuan=dark blue)

-dactyl: finger (L dactylus, Gk daktulos=finger)

decora: decorated, adorned, ornamented (L decorare, decus/decoris=beauty)

dia-: across (Gr dia-, di- =across)

dino-: large (Gk deinos=terrible)

discolor: not of the same colour or of another colour

dulci-, dulcis: sweet (L dulcis=sweet)

edulis: edible (L edere=to eat)

endo-: inside (Gk endon=within)

ensigera: bearing a sword (L ensis=sword, ensiger=sword-bearing)

ep-, epi-: above, in addition (Gk epi=prep)

falc-: sickle-like (L falx, falcis=sickle). falcata=curved like a sickle.

-fer, -fera: bearing, having, producing (L -fer=producing. ferre=to bear)

-ferox: fierce, savage, cruel (L ferox=savage, cruel)

fili-: from a son or daughter (L filius=son filia=daughter)

fili-: thread, fine, delicate (L filum=thread)

feral: wild (L ferus=wild)

ferruginea: rust coloured or reddish-brown (L ferrum=iron)

flor- flore- flora- flori-: flower-like (L flos, floris=flower)

foetida: stinking, fetid (L fetere=to stink, stinking)

foli-: leaf- (L folium=leaf)

formosa: finely beautiful

fragrant, fragrantissima: sweet smelling, fragrant, (L fragrare=to smell sweet)

fruticosa: shrubby, resembling a shrub (L frutex=shrub). frutescent= of the nature of a shrub.

fusca: deep brown, sombre, dark-coloured (L fuscus= dusky, shadowy, dark coloured)

glandi-: acorn like (L glans=acorn)

glauca: blue-grey (L glaucus Gk glaukos= dull greyish green or blue)

gracilis: slender, gracefully slender (L gracilis=slender)

grandi-: large (L grandis=great). grandiflora=large flowered

-gynous, -gyne: female (GK gune=woman)

hemi-: half (Gk hemi=half, L semi=half)

hirsuta: coarsely or stiffly hairy, hairy, shaggy (L hirsutus=hair)

hydr-, hydro-: having to do with water (Gk hudro=water)

hyper-: over, above, exceeding (Gk huper=over, beyond)

hypo-, hyp-: below normal, slightly (Gk hupo=under)

in-: not (L); also il- im- ir- as in: illogical, impunity, irrational)

infra-: below or beneath (L infra=below or beneath)

intra-: inside (L intra=within, inside)

kyphosid: hunchback, bent (Gr kuphosis=bent)

latus: broad (L latus=broad)

lucida: shining, transparent (L lucidus, lux=light)

lutea, luteous: deep yellow, deep orange yellow or greenish yellow (L luteum=mud, clay)

macro-: long, large (Gk makro-, makros=long, large)

mesa-: middle (Gk mesos=middle)
mesa: table (Spanish)

micro-: small (Gk mikros= small)

mollis: soft (L mollis=soft)

myx-, myxo: of mucus (Gk muxa=mucus)

nana-, nana, nano-: dwarf-like, dwarf (Gk nanos=dwarf)

nereid, neritic, neri-: of the Sea God Nereus(L Nereis, Gk Nereis= god of the sea)

nigra: black (L nigri=black)

niva-, neve-: of snow. nivalis= pertaining to snow (L nix, nivis=snow)

obovate: egg-shaped with the narrower end at the base

officinalis: of a medicine, used in medicine (L officina=workshop)

palma-, palmata: shaped like an open hand. (L palma=hand)

-ped, -pes, -pod: foot (Gk podos, pous=foot)

pelagic: of the open sea (L pelagicus, Gk pelagikos= of the open sea)

pent-: five, fivefold

phyco-, -phycea: (relating to) seaweeds (Gk phukos=seaweed)

phyla, phylum: the major taxonomic rank (Gk Phulon=race)

phyllo-, phylla-: leaf form (Gk phullon=leaf)

phyto-, phyte-: plantlike (Gk phuton=plant)

-pinnata: feathered, leaflets in pairs opposite each other, like a fern/feather (L pinna=feather)

placoid: consisting of a hard base embedded in the skin and a spiny backward projection (Gk plax, placos= flat plate)

plena-: complete, full, entire (L plenus=full)

plumosa: feathery, featherlike, (L pluma=down)

praecox: early, precocious, ripe early, premature (L praecoquere=to ripen fully)

pro-, proto-: before (in time, place, order) (Gk pro=before)

ptero-: wing (Gk pteron=wing)

pulcherrima: most beautiful (L pulchri=beautiful)

pungens: sharp-pointed, sharp-tasted (L pungere=to prick)

purpurea: purple, atropurpurea=dark purple (Gk porphura=purple)

rubra, rubrum: red (L rubeus=red)

salmonea: salmon coloured (L salmo=salmon)

sanguinea: deep or blood red (L sanguineus=blood)

saxatilis: dwelling amongst rocks (L saxum=rocks)

scabra: rough or gritty, scurfy (L scaber=rough)

scorpis: ??? (L scorpio= scorpion and scorpionfish; Gk skorpios)

semi-: half (L semi=half)

squamata: covered with scales (L squama=scale)

squilla: crustacean ?? which?(L squilla, scilla Gk skilla)

stellata: star-like (L stella=star)

strata- strato-: layer (L stratum=layer of sternere=to lay down, to strew)

striga-: streaked, striped, ridged (L striga= swath, furrow)

suave-, suavi-: agreeable, smooth, affablen (L suavis=agreeable). suaveolens=fragrant

sub-: before (L sub= under, close to, toward). Also suc-, suf-, sug-, sup-, sur-, sus- with the same meanings

subulata: awl-formed, slender and tapering (L subula=awl)

super-, supra-: above or beyond (L super= above, beyond)

topo-: of a place. (Gk topos= place)

tra-, tran-, trans-: across (L trans- across)

-trophy: of food (Gk trophe=food)

variegata: variegated, having two or more colours (L variegare=to vary, varius=various)

ventri-: belly-, of the belly (L venter=belly)

ventricosa: having an extended belly, distended, inflated

versi-: changeable (L vertere= to turn)

versicolor: variously coloured or colours changeable (L vertere=to turn verse=turn color=colour)

viola-: blueish purple (L viola=violet flower)

virgin-: unspoilt, virgin (Lvirgo=virgin)

vulgaris: ordinary (L vulgus=common people)

-zoan, zoan-: animal (Gk zoia=animals)

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