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a combining form with the meanings “sugar,” “glucose and its derivatives,” used in the formation of compound words: glycolipid.
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Also gluco-. Also especially before a vowel, glyc-.

Origin of glyco-

Combining form representing Greek glykýs sweet
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does glyco- mean?

Glyco– is a combining form used like a prefix meaning “sugar” or “glucose and its derivatives.” Glucose is a sugar found in many fruits, animal tissues and fluids, and other sources. Glyco– is often used in scientific terms, especially in chemistry.

Glyco– comes from Greek glykýs, meaning “sweet.” The Latin translation (and perhaps cognate) of glykýs is dulcis, “sweet,” which is the source of sweetness-related terms such as dulcet and, through Italian, dolce vita. To learn more, check out our entries for both words.

What are variants of glyco-?

When combined with words or word elements that begin with a vowel, glyco– becomes glyc-, as in glycin.

Less common variants of glyco– are gluco- and gluc-, as in glucolipid and glucan.

Want to know more? Read our Words That Use articles on glyc-, gluco-, and gluc-.

Examples of glyco-

An example of a scientific term that uses the form glyco– is glycogen, also called animal starch, “a white, tasteless polysaccharide, constituting the principal carbohydrate storage material in animals.”

We know glyco– means “sugar,” and the -gen portion of the word means “that which produces,” from Greek –genēs. Glycogen literally translates to “that which produces sugar.”

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

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

Break it down!

The combining form -genetic means “of or relating to an origin, creation, or beginning.” With this in mind, what does glycogenetic literally mean?

How to use glyco- in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for glyco-


before a vowel glyc-

combining form
indicating sugarglycogen

Word Origin for glyco-

from Greek glukus sweet
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