1. a combining form with the meaning “rod,” used primarily in biology to form generic names of bacteria:

    aerobacter; arthrobacter.

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Word History and Origins

Origin of -bacter1

< New Latin, masculine noun coined as variant of neuter bactrum < Greek báktron; bacterium


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Words That Use bacter-

What does bacter- mean?

Bacter- is a combining form used like a prefix meaning “bacteria,” microscopic single-celled organisms. It is very occasionally used in scientific terms, especially in biology and pathology.

Bacter- comes from Greek baktḗria, meaning “staff, cane.” Discover how the word for “staff” came to denote microorganisms at our entry for bacterium.

What are variants of bacter-?

Bacter- is a variant of bacterio-, which loses its -io- when combined with words or word elements beginning with vowels. Another variant of bacter- is bacteri-, as in bacteriosis. Want to know more? Read our Words That Use bacteri and bacterio articles.

From a related Greek word, báktron, which means “stick,” English inherits the combining form -bacter. Want to learn more? Check out our Words That Use article for –bacter.

Related to both baktḗria and báktron is the Latin noun baculum, “staff,” which is the source of the combining form bacill-, which refers to a type of rod-shaped bacteria, and baguette, a rod-shaped loaf of bread.

Examples of bacter-

A scientific term that features the combining form bacter- is bacteroid, “any of the rod-shaped or branched bacteria in the root nodules of nitrogen-fixing plants.”

The form bacter- means “bacteria,” while the suffix -oid means “resembling” or “like.” Bacteroid literally translates to “resembling bacteria.”

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

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

Break it down!

The combining form -emia denotes a blood condition or disease. With this in mind, what is bacteremia?