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a prefix appearing in loanwords from Greek, where it meant “under” (hypostasis); on this model used, especially as opposed to hyper-, in the formation of compound words (hypothyroid).
Also, especially before a vowel, hyp-.
Origin of hypo-
< Greek, combining form of hypó under (preposition), below (adv.); cognate with Latin sub (see sub-); cf. up
Can be confused
hyper-, hypo-. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for hypo-


under, beneath, or below: hypodermic
lower; at a lower point: hypogastrium
less than: hypoploid
(in medicine) denoting a deficiency or an abnormally low level: hypothyroid, hypoglycaemia
incomplete or partial: hypoplasia
indicating that a chemical compound contains an element in a lower oxidation state than usual: hypochlorous acid
Word Origin
from Greek, from hupo under


indicating a plagal mode in music: Hypodorian
Word Origin
from Greek: beneath (it lies a fourth below the corresponding authentic mode)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for hypo-

word-forming element meaning "under, beneath" (in chemistry, indicating a lesser oxidation), from hypo-, comb. form of Greek hypo (prep. and adverb) "under," from PIE *upo- "under, up from under, over" (see sub-).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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hypo- in Medicine

hypo- or hyp-

  1. Below; beneath; under: hypochondriac.

  2. Less than normal; deficient: hypofunction.

  3. In the lowest state of oxidation: hypoxanthine.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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hypo- in Science
hypo- or hyp-  
A prefix that means "beneath" or "below," as in hypodermic, below the skin. It also means "less than normal," especially in medical terms like hypoglycemia. In the names of chemical compounds, it means "at the lowest state of oxidation," as in sodium hypochlorite.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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