Medical Prefixes that Describe the Position or Direction

The purpose of this quiz is to familiarize you with the prefixes describing the position and direction of a term, as well as its meanings.

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Prefix Position or Direction Sample Word
ab- away abduction
ad- toward adduction
ambi- both ambiphilia
ante-, anter(o)- anterior (front) anteroseptal
ventr(i)-, ventr(o)- anterior (front) ventrocranial
dextr(o)- right dextrocardia
ect(o)- out, outside ectoderm
ex(o)- out, outside exothermic
extra-, extro- out, outside extracellular
end(o)- inside endometrium
intra-, intro- inside intramuscular
ep(i)- above epidermis
super- above superior
supra- above suprarenal
inter- between interatrial
later(o)- lateral laterocranial
medi(o)-, medi(a)- middle mediastinum
mes(o)-, middle mesoblast
juxta- near juxtaspinal
para- near parathyroid
circum- around circumgastric
peri- around pericostal
dors(i)-, dors(o)- posterior (back) dorsiflexion
poster(o)- posterior (back) posterobuccal
levo- left levoscoliosis
sinistr(o)- left sinistrocular
infra- below infraclavicular
sub- below subcutaneous
tele-, telo- distant telecanthus
dia- through dialysis
per- through percutaneous
trans- through transdermal

  • Question of

    Identify the meaning of the prefix.

    • away
    • both
    • middle
    • inside

    Correct Wrong

    The prefix ab- means "away". Example is the word ab/duct/ion. ab- is a prefix that means "away",  duct is is a word root that means "to lead or to carry" and -ion is a suffix that means "action or process". Abduction is a movement in which a limb or structure is pulled away from the body's median plane.

  • Question of

    Identify the meaning of the prefix.

    • toward
    • anterior (front)
    • between
    • middle

    Correct Wrong

    The prefix ad- means "toward". Example is the word ad/duct/ion. ad- means "toward",  duct is a word root that means "to lead or to carry" and -ion is a suffix that means "action or process". Adduction is the motion of pulling something toward the midline of the body or towards the midline of a limb.

  • Question of

    Identify the meaning of the prefix.

    • both
    • inside
    • toward
    • away

    Correct Wrong

    The prefix ambi- means "both". Example is the word ambi/phil/ia. ambi- means "both",  phil is a word root that means "attraction" and -ai is a suffix that means "condition". Ambiphilia is an attraction to both men and women.

  • Question of

    Identify the meaning of the prefix.

    • front
    • away
    • around
    • distant

    Correct Wrong

    The prefix ante- or anter(o)- means "anterior or front". Example is the word anter(o)/sept/al. Anter(o)- means "front",  sept is a word root for "septum", -al is a suffix that means to "pertaining to". The term anteroseptal refers to the area in front of a septum, most notably the interventricular septum.

  • Question of

    Identify the meaning of the prefix.

    • front
    • middle
    • left
    • near

    Correct Wrong

    The prefix ventr(o)- or ventr(i)- means "anterior or front". Example is the word ventr(o)/crani/al. Ventr(o)- means "front",  crani is a word root for "cranium or skull", -al is a suffix that means to "pertaining to". A ventrocranial is a term used to refer to the front of the skull.

  • Question of

    Identify the meaning of the prefix.

    • right
    • below
    • back
    • between

    Correct Wrong

    The prefix dextr(o)- means "right". Example is the word dextr(o)/cardi/a. Dextr(o)- means "right",  cardi is a word root for "heart", -a is a noun ending suffix with no specific meaning. Dextrocardia is a congenital condition characterized by the abnormal position of the heart on the right side of the chest.

  • Question of

    Identify the meaning of the prefix.

    • outside
    • between
    • around
    • toward

    Correct Wrong

    The prefix ect(o)- means "out" or "outside". Example is the word ect(o)/derm. Ect(o)- means "outside",  derm is a word root that refers to the "skin". Following the formation of the three primary germ layers, the ectoderm is the outermost layer of cells of an embryo.

  • Question of

    Identify the meaning of the prefix.

    • out
    • distant
    • right
    • lateral

    Correct Wrong

    The prefix ex(o)- means "out" or "outside". Example is the word ex(o)/therm/ic. Ex(o)- means "outside",  therm is a word root that refers to the "heat", -ic is a suffix that means "pertaining to". In an exothermic process, heat is released into the environment.

  • Question of

    Identify the meaning of the prefix.

    • outside
    • inside
    • toward
    • distant

    Correct Wrong

    The prefix extr(a)-  or extr(o)- means "out" or "outside". Example is the word extra/cellular. Extra- means "outside",  cellular pertains to the "cell". An extracellular term refers to something occurring or found outside a cell.

  • Question of

    Identify the meaning of the prefix.

    • inside
    • back
    • distant
    • near

    Correct Wrong

    The prefix end(o)- means "inside". Example is the word end(o)/metr/i/um. End(o)- means "inside",  metr/i is a combining form that refers to the "uterus", -um is a noun ending suffix with no specific meaning. Endometrium is the innermost lining layer of the uterus. 

  • Question of

    Identify the meaning of the prefix.

    • inside
    • near
    • toward
    • above

    Correct Wrong

    The prefix intra- or intro- means "inside" or "within". Example is the word intra/muscul/ar. Intra- means "inside",  muscul is a word root that refers to the "muscle", -ar is a suffix that means "pertaining to". The intramuscular refers to the inside of the muscle.

  • Question of

    Identify the meaning of the prefix.

    • above
    • below
    • lateral
    • outside

    Correct Wrong

    The prefix ep(i)- means "above". Example is the word ep(i)/derm/is. Ep(i)- means "above", derm is a word root that refers to the "skin", -is is noun ending suffix with no specific meaning. A layer of tissue that forms the outermost layer of skin is referred to as the epidermis. 

  • Question of

    Identify the meaning of the prefix.

    • above
    • distant
    • outside
    • left

    Correct Wrong

    The prefix supra- means "above". Example is the word supra/ren/al. Supra- means "above", ren is a word root that refers to the "kidney", -al is a suffix that means "pertaining to". The suprarenal glands, also known as the adrenal glands, are small glands on top of the kidneys.

  • Question of

    Identify the meaning of the prefix.

    • above
    • back
    • both
    • toward

    Correct Wrong

    The prefix super- means "above" or "excessive". Example is the word super/ior. Super- means "above", -ior is a suffix that means "pertaining to". Superior refers to being higher or located above.

  • Question of

    Identify the meaning of the prefix.

    • between
    • through
    • away
    • above

    Correct Wrong

    The prefix inter- means "between". Example is the word inter/atri/al. Inter- means "between", atri is a word root for "atrium of the heart", -al is a suffix that means "pertaining to".  The interatrial septum is the wall between the atria of the heart.

  • Question of

    Identify the meaning of the prefix.

    • lateral
    • above
    • away
    • through

    Correct Wrong

    The prefix later(o)- means "lateral" or "side". Example is the word later(o)/crani/al. Later(o)- means "lateral" or "side", crani is a word root for "cranium" or "skull", -al is a suffix that means "pertaining to".  Laterocranial is the term for the side of the cranium.

  • Question of

    Identify the meaning of the prefix.

    • middle
    • left
    • around
    • through

    Correct Wrong

    The prefix mes(o)- means "middle". Example is the word mes(o)/blast. Mes(o)- means "middle", -blast is a suffix that refers to "immature cell".  In an embryo, the mesoblast is the middle layer of undifferentiated cells; it becomes the mesoderm.

  • Question of

    Identify the meaning of the prefix.

    • middle
    • both
    • below
    • distant

    Correct Wrong

    The prefix medi(a)- or medi(o)- means "middle". Take the word medi(o)/tars/al. Medi(o)- pertains to "middle", tars is a word root that refers to "ankle", and -al is a suffix term that means "pertaining to". Mediotarsal is in the middle of the tarsal (ankle) region.

  • Question of

    Identify the meaning of the prefix.

    • near
    • around
    • back
    • toward

    Correct Wrong

    The prefix para- means "near", "apart from" or "abnormal" . Example is the word para/thyr/oid. Para- in the term parathyroid means "beside" or "near", thyr is a word root for "thyroid gland", -oid is a suffix that means "resembling". Parathyroid glands are four endocrine glands located near the thyroid gland, which secrete parathyroid hormone.

  • Question of

    Identify the meaning of the prefix.

    • near
    • toward
    • right
    • distant

    Correct Wrong

    The prefix juxta- means "near". Example is the word juxta/spin/al. Juxta- means "near", spin is a word root for "spine", -al is a suffix that means "pertaining to". The term juxtaspinal refers to an area near the spine.

  • Question of

    Identify the meaning of the prefix.

    • around
    • away
    • left
    • right

    Correct Wrong

    The prefix peri- means "around" or "surrounding". Example is the word peri/cost/al. Peri- means "around", cost is a word root for "rib", -al is a suffix that means "pertaining to". Pericostal refers to the area surrounding a rib.

  • Question of

    Identify the meaning of the prefix.

    • around
    • right
    • near
    • back

    Correct Wrong

    The prefix circum- means "around" or "surrounding". Example is the word circum/gastr/ic. Circum- means "around", gastr is a word root for "stomach", -ic is a suffix that means "pertaining to". Circumgastric refers to the area surrounding a stomach.

  • Question of

    Identify the meaning of the prefix.

    • back
    • middle
    • away
    • above

    Correct Wrong

    The prefix poster(o)- means "back" or "posterior". Example is the word poster(o)/bucc/al. Poster(o)- means "back", bucc is a word root for "cheek", -ic is a suffix that means "pertaining to". Posterobuccal refers to the posterior or back part of the cheek.

  • Question of

    Identify the meaning of the prefix.

    • back
    • away
    • lateral
    • left

    Correct Wrong

    The prefix dors(o)- or dors(i)- means "back" or "posterior". Example is the word dors(i)/flex/ion. Dors(i)- means "back", flex is a word root for "bend", -ion is a suffix that refers to "process". Dorsiflexion can be described as the backward bending or contracting of your hands or feet. 

  • Question of

    Identify the meaning of the prefix.

    • left
    • right
    • both
    • middle

    Correct Wrong

    The prefix sinistr(o)- means "left". Example is the word sinistr(o)/ocul/ar. Sinistr(o)- means "left", ocul is a word root for "eye", -ar is a suffix that means "pertaining to". A sinistrocular error occurs when the left eye is favored by habit or for effective vision over the right eye.

  • Question of

    Identify the meaning of the prefix.

    • left
    • right
    • through
    • front

    Correct Wrong

    The prefix levo- means "left". Example is the word levo/scoli/o/sis. Levo- means "left", scoli/o is a combining form that pertains to "curved", -sis is a suffix that means "condition". The term 'levoscoliosis' refers to a type of scoliosis where the spine curves on the left side.

  • Question of

    Identify the meaning of the prefix.

    • below
    • front
    • above
    • outside

    Correct Wrong

    The prefix sub- means "below" or "under". Example is the word sub/cutane/ous. Sub- means "below", cutane is a word root that pertains to the "skin", -ous is a suffix that means "pertaining to". Subcutaneous refers to the fatty layer that lies under the skin.

  • Question of

    Identify the meaning of the prefix.

    • below
    • both
    • lateral
    • between

    Correct Wrong

    The prefix infra- means "below" or "under". Example is the word infra/clavicul/ar. Infra- means "below", clavicul is a word root that pertains to the "clavicle" or "collar bone", -ar is a suffix that means "pertaining to". The infraclavicular fossa is located below the clavicle.

  • Question of

    Identify the meaning of the prefix.

    • distant
    • above
    • below
    • through

    Correct Wrong

    The prefix tele- or telo- means "distant". Example is the word tele/canthus. Tele- means "distant", canthus refers to the corner of the eye where the upper and lower lids meet. Telecanthus means that the distance between the medial canthi of the eyes increased, whereas the interpupillary distance remains normal.

  • Question of

    Identify the meaning of the prefix.

    • through
    • toward
    • middle
    • around

    Correct Wrong

    The prefix trans- means "through". Example is the word trans/derm/al. Trans- means "through", derm is a word root for "skin", -al is a suffix that means "pertaining to". Transdermal is a form of medication administration in which ingredients are absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream. 

  • Question of

    Identify the meaning of the prefix.

    • through
    • middle
    • between
    • front

    Correct Wrong

    The prefix dia- means "through". Example is the word dia/lysis. Dia- means "through", -lysis is a suffix that means "separating" or "dissolution". When the kidneys stop working, dialysis removes and separates wastes and excess fluids from the blood through a machine to be cleaned.

  • Question of

    Identify the meaning of the prefix.

    • through
    • around
    • right
    • middle

    Correct Wrong

    The prefix per- means "through". Example is the word per/cutane/ous. Per- means "through", cutane is a word root for "skin", -ous is a suffix that means "pertaining to". Percutaneous refers to a form of administration or procedure that passes through the skin, either as an injection or as a topical injection.