a combining form meaning “icy cold,” “frost,” used in the formation of compound words: cryogenics.



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Origin of cryo-

Combining form representing Greek krýos Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020


What does cryo- mean?

Cryo- is a combining form used like a prefix meaning “icy cold,” “frost.” It is often used in medical and scientific terms.

Cryo- comes from the Greek krýos, meaning “ice cold” or “frost.” Can you guess what cryology is? The study of snow and ice. Related to cryo- is the combining form crymo, as in crymotherapy.

Examples of cryo-

An example of a scientific term that features cryo- is cryoplankton, plankton that live in the icy waters and meltwaters of glacial or polar areas.

Other words you may have heard that include cryo- are cryotherapy, “treatment by means of applications of cold,” and cryogenics, “the branch of physics that deals with very low temperatures,” often appearing in the phrase cryogenically frozen.

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

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

Despite the similarity of spelling and pronunciation, the combining form cryo- is not related to cry. Learn about where the word cry comes from at our entry for the word.

Break it down!

The controversial field of cryonics is dedicated to preserving dead bodies so they might be brought back to life in the future. Based on the meaning of cryo-, how are they preserving the bodies?

British Dictionary definitions for cryo-


combining form

indicating low temperature; frost, cold, or freezingcryogenics; cryosurgery

Word Origin for cryo-

from Greek kruos icy cold, frost
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 cryo-



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