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a combining form meaning “color,” used in the formation of compound words in this sense and in the specialized sense of “chromatin”: chromatophore; chromatolysis.
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Also especially before a vowel, chromat-.

Origin of chromato-

<Greek chromat-, stem of chrôma color + -o-
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does chromato- mean?

Chromato- is a combining form used like a prefix meaning “color.” It is used in many scientific and medical terms. In cell biology, chromato- specifically refers to chromatin, “the readily stainable substance of a cell nucleus, consisting of DNA, RNA, and various proteins, that forms chromosomes during cell division.”

Chromato- comes from the Greek chrôma, meaning “color” and is source of the words chroma and chrome, among many others. The chemical element chromium is so named for the colorful compounds the metal can form.

What are variants of chromato-?

When combined with words or word elements that begin with a vowel, chromato- becomes chromat-, as in chromaturia.

Closely related to chromato- are the combining forms chromo-, chrom-, and -chrome.

Examples of chromato-

One example of a term that features the combining form chromato- is chromatology, also known as chromatics, “the science of colors.”

The form chromato- here means “color.” What about the -logy part of the word? That’s right, -logy is used to denote the names of sciences, bodies of knowledge, and areas of study. Chromatology literally translates to “the study of color.”

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

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

Break it down!

The suffix -genous means “producing” or “generating.” With this in mind, what does something described as chromatogenous do?

British Dictionary definitions for chromato-


before a vowel chromat-

combining form
indicating colour or colouredchromatophore
indicating chromatinchromatolysis

Word Origin for chromato-

from Greek khrōma, khrōmat- colour
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 chromato-


The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.