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a combining form meaning “breath, respiration,” used in the formation of compound words that denote a kind of breathing or condition of the respiratory system, as specified by the initial element: dyspnea; hyperpnea.



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“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.

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Also -pnoea.

Origin of -pnea

<Greek -pnoia, akin to pneîn to breathe; cf. pneuma
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What does -pnea mean?

The combining form -pnea is used like a suffix meaning “breath, respiration.” It is often used in medical terms, especially in pathology.

The form -pnea comes from the Greek pneîn, meaning “to breathe.”

What are variants of –pnea?

In British English, -pnea is commonly spelled -pnoea.

Examples of -pnea

One common word featuring -pnea is apnea, meaning “temporary suspension of breathing.” This is a medical condition that many people suffer from, particularly during sleep.

As we’ve seen, -pnea refers to “breath.” The prefix a-, here, means “not, without.” That means apnea literally translates to “without breath.”

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

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

The word pneumonia, a respiratory illness, comes from the Greek pneúmōn, meaning “lung” and which is related to -pnea, which, if you’ll recall, is from the Greek pneîn, meaning “to breathe.” Can you see the connection?

Break it down!

The prefix hyper- is borrowed from Greek to mean “over” (implying excess). With that in mind, what do you deduce hyperpnea is?

Medical definitions for -pnea



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