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Variant ofkerato-
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.


What does kerat- mean?

Kerat- is a combining form used like a prefix meaning “horn” or “cornea.” The cornea is the transparent front part of the eyeball. It is used in some scientific and medical terms, including in ophthalmology and dermatology.

Kerat- comes from the Greek kéras, meaning “horn.” The Latin cousin to kéras is cornū, source of corneus, literally “horn-y.” The term cornea comes from the Latin phrase cornea tēla, meaning “horn-y web,” i.e., “hornlike tissue.”

Another word related to this Greek root is karat, or carat, which is a unit of weight for gemstones. It ultimately comes from the Greek word for “little horn.”

Kerat- is a variant of kerato-, which loses its -o– when combined with words or word elements beginning with vowels.

Want to know more? Read our Words That Use kerato- article.

Kerat- and kerato- can also be spelled with an initial c-, becoming cerat- or cerato-, as in keratoid or ceratoid. Variants spelled with c- are pronounced with a soft c sound, e.g., [ seruh-toid ]. Learn more at our Words That Use articles for the forms.

Examples of kerat-

A term you may have encountered that features the combining form kerat- is keratin, “a fibrous, structural protein that is the principal constituent of hoofs, nails, claws, talons, bills, horn, hair, feathers, etc., and that is found in the outermost layers of skin.”

The first part of the word, kerat- means “horn.” The suffix in here denotes a protein. Keratin literally translates to “horn protein.”

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

What are some other forms that kerat- may be commonly confused with?

Break it down!

The combining form -itis means “inflammation.” With this in mind, what does the medical condition of keratitis involve?