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a combining form meaning “bile,” “gall,” used in the formation of compound words: cholesterol.
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Also especially before a vowel, chol-.

Origin of chole-

Combining form of Greek cholḗ bile; akin to chlor-1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does chole- mean?

Chole- is a combining form used like a prefix meaning “bile” or “gall.” It is often used in medical terms, especially in physiology.

Chole- comes from the Greek cholḗ, meaning “bile.” Bile is a yellowish-green liquid secreted by the liver.

What are variants of chole-?

When combined with words or word elements that begin with a vowel, chole- becomes chol, as in choline. Another variant of chole- is cholo-, as in chololith.

Examples of chole- 

An example of a word you may have encountered that features chole- is cholecyst, the term for the gallbladder in anatomy.

The form chole- can mean either “bile” or “gall,” as we now know. In the case of cholecyst, chole- means “gall.” But what about cyst? Cyst means “bladder, sac.” So, the word cholecyst literally translates to “gallbladder.”

Another word you may be familiar with that uses chole- is cholesterol, a chemical found in animal tissue—and too much of which can increase the risk of heart disease. It was so named because it was first observed in gallstones. Learn more about cholesterol at our entry for the word.

What are some other words that use the combining form chole-?

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

The Greek root of chole-, cholḗ, is related to another Greek word choléra, which is the source of the English words cholera and choleric. Do you know how choleric came to describe personality traits? Discover why at our Vocab Builder on choleric.

Break it down!

The combining form -lith means “stone.” With this and your knowledge of chole- in mind, what is the pathological term for gallstone?

How to use chole- in a sentence

  • M. Zola (Germinal, p. 310) represents his miners playing chole, or choulle, and says that they hit drives of more than 500 yards.

  • The name chole may be connected with German Kolbe, and golf may be the form which this word would assume in a Celtic language.

British Dictionary definitions for chole-


before a vowel chol-

combining form
indicating bile or gallcholesterol

Word Origin for chole-

from Greek kholē
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