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a combining form used to form adjectives corresponding to nouns ending in -sperm: gymnospermal.
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Origin of -spermal

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What does -spermal mean?

The combining form -spermal is used like a suffix to mean “of or relating to one who has seeds.” It is occasionally used in scientific terms, especially in botany.

The form -spermal ultimately comes from Greek spérma, meaning “sperm” or “seed.” This form in English is combined with the suffix -al, from Latin ālis, meaning “pertaining to.”

What are variants of -spermal?

A more common variant of -spermal is -spermous, as in gymnospermous; another variant is -spermic, as in endospermic.

The related form -sperm is used for nouns instead of adjectives.

The forms sperm-, spermato-, and spermo- are also combining forms from Greek spérma that are variously used like prefixes to mean “sperm” or “seed.”

Want to learn more? Check out our Words That Use entries for each of these seven forms.

Examples of -spermal

One example of a term from botany that features the combining form -spermal is angiospermal, “of or relating to a plant having its seeds enclosed in an ovary.” Orchids, pea plants, and grass are all examples of angiosperms.

The angio- portion of the word means “vessel” or “container.” As we know, the form -spermal means “of or relating to one who has seeds.” Angiospermal literally translates to “having seeds (in a) vessel.”

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

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

Break it down!

Some seeds are known as gymnospermal. Given that gymno- means “bare” or “exposed,” what characterizes gymnospermal seeds? (Hint: it’s the opposite of what characterizes angiospermal seeds.)