[ kok-uhs ]
/ ˈkɒk əs /
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noun, plural coc·ci [kok-sahy, -see]. /ˈkɒk saɪ, -si/.
Bacteriology. a spherical bacterium.
Botany. one of the carpels of a schizocarp.
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Origin of coccus

1755–65; <New Latin <Greek kókkos grain, seed, berry


coccal, coc·cic [kok-sik], /ˈkɒk sɪk/, adjectivecoccous, adjective

Other definitions for coccus (2 of 2)


a combining form representing coccus in compound words: streptococcus.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does -coccus mean?

The combining formcoccus is used like a suffix meaning “coccus.” Coccus is a scientific term with two meanings. In terms from bacteriology, it means “spherical bacterium.” In terms from botany, it refers to the mericarp, one segment of a schizocarp, a kind of fruit.

The form –coccus comes from Greek kókkos, meaning “grain, seed, or berry.” The Latin equivalent of kókkos is grānum, “grain” or “seed,” which is the source of words such as grain, granite, and granular. Discover more at our entry for each word.

What are variants of –coccus?

While –coccus doesn’t have any variants, it is related to the form coccal, as in streptococcal. Want to know more? Read our Words That Use article for –coccal.

Examples of -coccus

An example of a word you may have encountered that features –coccus is streptococcus, the type of bacteria that can cause such illnesses as scarlet fever and strep throat. Streptococcus comes from Latin, which uses the equivalent form in that language.

Strepto means “twisted,” from Greek streptós, while the form –coccus means “coccus.” Streptococcus literally translates to “twisted coccus.”

What are some words that use the equivalent of the combining form –coccus in Latin?

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

Break it down!

The combining form micro means “small.” With this in mind, what does the name of the bacteria micrococcus literally mean?

How to use coccus in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for coccus

/ (ˈkɒkəs) /

noun plural -ci (-saɪ)
any spherical or nearly spherical bacterium, such as a staphylococcusCompare bacillus (def. 1), spirillum (def. 1)
the part of a fruit that contains one seed and separates from the whole fruit at maturity
any of the scale insects of the genus Coccus

Derived forms of coccus

coccoid, coccal or coccic (ˈkɒksɪk), adjectivecoccous, adjective

Word Origin for coccus

C18: from New Latin, from Greek kokkos berry, grain
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

Scientific definitions for coccus

[ kŏkəs ]

Plural cocci (kŏksī, kŏkī)
Any of various bacteria having a round or ovoid form such as streptococcus or staphylococcus, usually grouped in chains.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.