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a combining form occurring in compound words denoting a medical examination or inspection: biopsy; necropsy.
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Origin of -opsy

Generalized from autopsy

Other definitions for -opsy (2 of 2)


variant of -opsia: achromatopsy.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does -opsy mean?

The combining formopsy is used like a suffix that has two distinct senses.

The first of these senses is “medical examination or inspection,” and this form of –opsy is occasionally used in a variety of scientific and technical terms. The form –opsy in this sense comes from the word autopsy, from Greek autopsía, meaning “a seeing with one’s own eyes.”

The second of these senses is “visual disorder,” and this form of –opsy is very rarely used in a variety of medical terms. The form –opsy ultimately comes from comes from Greek ṓps, meaning “eye” or “face.” Greek ṓps is also at the root of the word cyclops, a mythical giant with a single large eye. Cyclops literally means “round-eye” in Greek.

Related to autopsía and ṓps is ophthalmós, “eye,” which gives us the combining form ophthalmo. The Latin cognate of these three Greek words is oculus, “eye,” the source of the combining form oculo and the noun monocle. Learn more at our entries for both words.

What are variants of –opsy with the sense “visual disorder”?

The form –opsy is a variant of the more common opia or opsia, as in hemianopsia and myopia. From the same root, we also derive the combining form opto, as in optometrist. While opsis is not a variant of –opsy, the two combining forms have a common origin. Want to know more? Read our Words That Use articles for these forms.

Not every word that ends with the exact letters –opsy, such as dropsy or hydropsy, is necessarily using the combining form –opsy to denote “medical inspection” or “visual disorder.” Learn why dropsy means “edema” at our entry for the word.

Examples of -opsy with the sense “medical examination or inspection”

An example of a scientific term that features the form –opsy to mean “medical examination” is necropsy, “the examination of a body after death.”

The necr- part of the word means “corpse,” from Greek nekrós. As we have seen, –opsy means “medical examination. Necropsy literally means “medical examination of a corpse.”

What are some words that use the combining form –opsy?

What are some other forms that –opsy may be commonly confused with?

Break it down!

The combining form bi has a variety of meanings, including “life.” With this in mind, what does biopsy literally mean?

Examples of -opsy with the sense “visual disorder”

One word that features the combining form –opsy to mean “visual disorder” is macropsy, or macropsia, “a defect of vision in which objects appear to be larger than their actual size.”

The form macr means “large.” The form –opsy here means “visual disorder.” Macropsy literally means “visual disorder [where things seem] large.”

What are some words that use the combining form –opsy?

What are some other forms that –opsy may be commonly confused with?

Break it down!

The combining form micr- means “small.” With this in mind, what is the medical condition micropsy or micropsia?

Medical definitions for -opsy


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