a combining form meaning “different,” “other,” used in the formation of compound words: heterocyclic.

Nearby words

  1. hetaira,
  2. heterarchy,
  3. heteraxial,
  4. heteresthesia,
  5. hetero,
  6. heteroagglutinin,
  7. heteroantibody,
  8. heteroantiserum,
  9. heteroaromatic,
  10. heteroatom

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

British Dictionary definitions for hetero-


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.