[ tohm ]
/ toʊm /
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See synonyms for: tome / tomes on Thesaurus.com

a book, especially a very heavy, large, or learned book.
a volume forming a part of a larger work.
Should you take this quiz on “shall” versus “should”? It should prove to be a quick challenge!
Question 1 of 6
Which form is used to state an obligation or duty someone has?

Origin of tome

First recorded in 1510–20; from French, from Latin tomus, from Greek tómos “slice, piece, roll of paper, book,” akin to témnein “to cut”

Other definitions for tome (2 of 2)


a combining form with the meanings “cutting instrument” (microtome; osteotome), “segment, somite” (sclerotome), used in the formation of compound words.
Compare tomo-, -tomous, -tomy.

Origin of -tome

Combining form representing Greek tomḗ a cutting; tómos a cut, slice; -tomon (neuter), -tomos (masculine) -cutting (adj.)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does -tome mean?

The combining form -tome is used like a suffix to mean “cutting instrument” as well as a “segment, somite.” A somite is a scientific term designating body segments in animals like worms or segments of a developing embryo.

The form –tome is used in some scientific and medical terms, especially in anatomy and surgery. It comes from the Greek tomḗ, meaning “a cutting,” and tómos, “a cut, slice.”

The Greek root tómos, which can also mean “piece, roll of paper, or book,” is also the source of the word tome. Crack open the history of tome at our entry for the word. Also related to tómos is atom. What’s the big idea behind atoms and cutting? Find out in our Origin section for this term.

Related to -tome are the combining forms -ectomy, -tomous, -tomy, and tomo-. Slice into their specific meanings at our Words That Use articles for the forms.

Examples of -tome

A medical term that features the combining form -tome is osteotome, a surgical tool used for cutting or dividing bone.

The first part of the word, osteo-, means “bone.” The form -tome denotes “cutting instrument,” as we’ve learned. Osteotome, then, literally translates to “bone-cutting instrument.” Eek!

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

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

Break it down!

The combining form micro- means “small.” A microtome is an instrument used to cut what sized objects, generally speaking?

How to use tome in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for tome (1 of 2)

/ (təʊm) /

a large weighty book
one of the several volumes of a work

Word Origin for tome

C16: from French, from Latin tomus section of larger work, from Greek tomos a slice, from temnein to cut; related to Latin tondēre to shear

British Dictionary definitions for tome (2 of 2)


n combining form
indicating an instrument for cuttingosteotome

Word Origin for -tome

from Greek tomē a cutting, tomos a slice, from temnein to cut
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 tome


Part; area; segment:dermatome.
Cutting instrument:microtome.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.