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a combining form meaning “wood,” “matter,” used in the formation of compound words: hylophagous; hylotheism.
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Origin of hylo-

<Greek, combining form of hȳ́lē wood, matter
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does hylo- mean?

Hylo– is a combining form used like a prefix. In terms from biology, hylo– typically is used to mean “wood.” In terms from philosophy, hylo– typically is used to mean “matter.” It is occasionally used in scientific terms, especially in biology.

Hylo– comes from Greek hȳ́lē, meaning “wood” or “matter,” as in the substance of the universe. Another Greek-based combining form meaning “wood” is xylo, which you can learn more about in our Words That Use article on the form.

The Latin translation of Greek hȳ́lē is lignum, meaning “wood.” To learn more, check out our Words That Use article on the combining forms lign, ligni, and ligno.

Examples of hylo-

One example of a scientific term that features the form hylo– is hylophagous, also known as xylophagous, meaning “feeding on wood.”

The hylo– part of the word here refers to “wood.” The second portion of the word, phagous, means “eating,” “feeding on,” or “devouring.” Hylophagous literally translates to “eating wood.”

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

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

Break it down!

The combining form morphism means “the state of having a shape, form, or structure.” With this in mind, what does the philosophical term hylomorphism mean?

British Dictionary definitions for hylo-


before a vowel hyl-

combining form
indicating matter (as distinguished from spirit)hylozoism
indicating woodhylophagous

Word Origin for hylo-

from Greek hulē wood
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