[ krip-toh ]
/ ˈkrɪp toʊ /
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noun, plural cryp·tos.
a person who secretly supports or adheres to a group, party, or belief.
secret or hidden; not publicly admitted: a crypto Nazi.
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Origin of crypto

First recorded in 1945–50; probably independent use of crypto-; cf. -o

Other definitions for crypto (2 of 2)


a combining form meaning “hidden,” “secret,” used in the formation of compound words: cryptograph.
Also especially before a vowel, crypt-.

Origin of crypto-

Combining form representing Greek kryptós hidden. See crypt
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does crypto- mean?

Crypto- is a combining form used like a prefix meaning “hidden, secret.” It is used in many scientific, medical, and other technical terms.

Crypto- comes from the Greek kryptós, meaning “hidden.” The word crypt also derives from this root. Dig up the connection at our entry for the word.

In anatomy, crypto- specifically refers to a crypt in its specialized sense of a “slender pit or recess” or a “small glandular cavity.”

What are variants of crypto-?

When combined with words or word elements that begin with a vowel, crypto- becomes crypt-, as in cryptitis.

Examples of crypto-

One word you may have encountered that features the combining form crypto- is cryptogram, meaning “a message or writing in code or cypher.”

As we know, crypto- means “secret.” The second part of the word, gram, means “something written”—like a note. Cryptogram, then, has a literal sense of “secret note.”

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

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

Break it down!

Cryptozoology is the search for mythical creatures like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster. Given that zoology is “the science or branch of biology dealing with animals,” what does cryptozoology literally mean?

How to use crypto in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for crypto


before a vowel crypt-

combining form
secret, hidden, or concealedcryptography; crypto-fascist

Word Origin for crypto-

New Latin, from Greek kruptos hidden, from kruptein to hide
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