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a combining form meaning “tongue, word, speech,” used in the formation of compound words: glossology.
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Also glotto-; especially before a vowel, gloss- .

Origin of glosso-

<Greek (Ionic), combining form of glôssa
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does glosso- mean?

The combining form glosso– is used like a prefix meaning “tongue.” It is occasionally used in medical terms, especially in pathology. In some instances, “tongue” is used figuratively to mean “word,” “speech,” or “language.”

The form glosso– comes from Greek glôssa, meaning “tongue.” The Latin translation of glôssa is lingua, meaning “tongue” or “speech,” source of such words as language and bilingual.

What are variants of glosso-?

When combined with words or word elements that begin with a vowel, glosso– becomes gloss-, as in glossalgia.

A less-common variant of glosso– is glotto, as in glottogony. Generally, glotto– means “tongue” as in “language.” Want to know more? Read our Words That Use article about glotto-.

Examples of glosso-

One example of a medical term that uses the form glosso– is glossotomy, “incision of the tongue.”

The glosso– portion of the word means “tongue,” but what about the tomy part of the word? The form –tomy, from Greek –tomia, means “cutting” or “incision.” Glossotomy literally translates to “tongue incision.”

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

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

Break it down!

The combining form logy is used to name branches of science or domains of knowledge. With this in mind, what is glossology?

How to use glosso- in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for glosso-


before a vowel gloss-

combining form
indicating a tongue or languageglossolaryngeal

Word Origin for glosso-

from Greek glossa tongue
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