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a combining form meaning “excision” of the part specified by the initial element, used in the formation of compound words: tonsillectomy.
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Origin of -ectomy

<New Latin -ectomia.See ec-, -tomy
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does -ectomy mean?

The combining form -ectomy is used like a suffix meaning “excision,” or “surgical removal.” It is often used in medical terms, especially in surgery.

The form -ectomy ultimately comes from the Greek ektomē, meaning “excision.” It is equivalent to the combination of ec- (from the Greek ek, “out”) and -tomy  from the Greek tomḗ, “a cutting”. So, -ectomy has a literal sense of “a cutting out of”—that is, “an excision.”

Related to -ectomy and -tomy are the combining forms -tome, -tomous, and tomo-.

Examples of -ectomy

An example of a word you may have encountered that features -ectomy is vasectomy, “excision of the vas deferens or of a portion of it.” This operation is performed to make men sterile, as the vas deferens is the duct that transports sperm to the penis.

The first part of the word, vas-, represents the vas deferens. The form -ectomy means “excision.” Vasectomy literally means “excision of the vas deferens.”

What are some words that use the combining form -ectomy?

What are some other forms that -ectomy may be commonly confused with?

Break it down!

Based on the meaning of -ectomy, what is a tonsillectomy?

British Dictionary definitions for -ectomy


n combining form
indicating surgical excision of a partappendectomy

Word Origin for -ectomy

from New Latin -ectomia, from Greek ek- out + -tomy
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

Medical definitions for -ectomy


Surgical removal:tonsillectomy.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.