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variant of phyto- as final element of compound words: lithophyte.
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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does -phyte mean?

The combining form -phyte is used like a suffix meaning “plant.” It is often used in scientific terms, especially in biology and botany.

The combining form –phyte comes from the Greek phytón, meaning “plant.” The Greek phytón also helps form the word neóphytos, source of the word neophyte, a “beginner” or “novice.” Neophyte literally means “newly planted” and originally referred to a newly baptized Christian.

The corresponding form of -phyte combined to the beginning of words is phyto-.

Want to know more? Read our Words That Use phyto- article.

Examples of -phyte

One example of a scientific term that features the combining form -phyte is macrophyte. A macrophyte is “a plant, especially a marine plant, large enough to be visible to the naked eye.”

You might be familiar with the combining form macro-, which means “large,” among other senses. As we have seen, -phyte means “plant.” Macrophyte, then, literally translates to “large plant.”

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

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

Break it down!

The opposite of macro- is micro-, meaning “small.” With this in mind, what does microphyte literally translate to?

British Dictionary definitions for -phyte


n combining form
indicating a plant of a specified type or habitatlithophyte; thallophyte

Derived forms of -phyte

-phytic, adj combining form

Word Origin for -phyte

from Greek phuton plant
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 -phyte


A plant with a specified character or habitat:saprophyte.
A pathological growth:osteophyte.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.