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a combining form meaning “hundredth” or “hundred,” used in the formation of compound words: centiliter; centimeter; centipede.



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Also especially before a vowel, cent-.

Origin of centi-

<Latin, combining form of centum
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What does centi- mean?

Centi- is a combining form used like a prefix meaning “hundredth” or “hundred.” In science, centi- is very commonly used as a prefix in units of measure equaling a factor of “one hundredth.”

Centi- comes from the Latin centum, meaning “hundred.” The word cent, as in a hundredth of a dollar and also known as a penny, ultimately comes from this same Latin root, as does percent. The Greek word for “hundred” is hekatón, source of the combining forms hecto-, hect-, hekto-, and hekt-, which you can learn more about in our Words That Use articles for the forms.

What are variants of centi-?

When combined with words or word elements that begin with a vowel, centi- becomes cent-, as in centare.

Examples of centi-

One example of a term featuring centi- that you may have encountered is centimeter, “one 100th of a meter.”

The centi- part of the word here means “hundredth,” as used in units of measure. The -meter part in this word refers to meter, “the fundamental unit of length in the metric system.” Centimeter literally means “a hundredth of a meter.”

Centimeter comes from the French centimètre, which uses the equivalent form of centi- in the language.

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

Most of the following forms feature the equivalent forms of centi- in French or Latin.

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

Break it down!

The combining form -pede means “having a foot.” A centipede is a type of insect with many legs—from 17 to 173 pairs of them. What does the name centipede literally translate to?

British Dictionary definitions for centi-


before a vowel cent-


denoting one hundredthcentimetre Symbol: c
rare denoting a hundredcentipede
from French, from Latin centum hundred
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 centi-



One-hundredth part (10-2):centiliter.
One hundred (102):centigrade.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Scientific definitions for centi-


A prefix meaning “a hundredth,” as in centigram, a hundredth of a gram.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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