Chemistry. of or relating to an atom other than carbon, particularly in a cyclic compound.
Informal. heterosexual.

noun, plural het·er·os.

Informal. a heterosexual person.

Origin of hetero

1930–35 for def 2; (in def 1) by shortening of heteroatom; (in def 2) by shortening of heterosexual; see -o


a combining form meaning “different,” “other,” used in the formation of compound words: heterocyclic.
Also especially before a vowel, heter-.

Origin of hetero-

combining form of Greek héteros the other of two, other, different
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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Contemporary Examples of hetero

British Dictionary definitions for hetero


noun, adjective plural -os

short for heterosexual


combining form

other, another, or differentheterodyne; heterophony; heterosexual Compare homo-

Word Origin for hetero-

from Greek heteros other
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

Word Origin and History for hetero


word-forming element meaning "other, different," from comb. form of Greek heteros "the other (of two), another, different;" first element meaning "one, at one, together," from PIE *sem- "one;" the second cognate with the second element in Latin al-ter, Gothic an-þar, Old English o-ðer "other."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for hetero



Other; different:heterocellular.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for hetero


A prefix that means “different” or “other,” as in heterophyllous, having different kinds of leaves.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.