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a combining form used in the names of surgical operations that involve the establishment of an artificial opening into or between the part or parts specified by the initial element: gastrostomy.
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Origin of -stomy

<Greek -stomia, derivative of stóma mouth. See -stome, -y3
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does -stomy mean?

The combining formstomy is used like a suffix meaning “opening,” specifically openings made in surgery in or between parts of the body. It is often in many medical terms.

The form -stomy comes from the Greek stóma, meaning “mouth” or “opening.” This root is the source of the English word stoma (a surgical opening) and is related to stomach. Stomach? Our stomachs and mouths are certainly connected—and etymologically so, too. Discover the connection at our entry for the word.

Closely related to -stomy are -stome and -stomous. Corresponding forms of -stomous combined to the beginning of words are stomato- and stomat-. Learn more about the specific applications of these forms at our Words That Use articles for them.

Examples of -stomy

An example of a word you may have encountered that features -stomy is colostomy. A colostomy is the construction of an artificial opening from the colon through the abdominal wall. Most people are familiar with this term from the expression colostomy bag, “a receptacle worn over the stoma to collect feces following a colostomy.”

The first part of the word, colo-, is a combining form representing the colon, a part of the large intestine. As we have seen, the -stomy part of the word means “opening.” Colostomy literally translates to “colon opening.”

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

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

Break it down!

The combining form gastro- means “stomach.” What does the surgical procedure of a gastrostomy involve, generally speaking?

British Dictionary definitions for -stomy


n combining form
indicating a surgical operation performed to make an artificial opening into or for a specified partcytostomy

Word Origin for -stomy

from Greek -stomia, from stoma mouth
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