[ lep-toh ]
/ ˈlɛp toʊ /
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noun Informal.
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Origin of lepto

By shortening

Other definitions for lepto (2 of 2)


a combining form meaning “thin,” “fine,” “slight,” used in the formation of compound words: leptophyllous.
Also especially before a vowel, lept-.

Origin of lepto-

<Greek lepto-, combining form of leptós thin, slight, fine, literally, stripped, equivalent to lép(ein) to strip + -tos adj. suffix
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does lepto- mean?

Lepto- is a combining form used like a prefix meaning “thin, fine, slight.” It is used in medical, scientific, and other technical terms.

Lepto- comes from the Greek leptós, variously meaning “thin, slight, fine, small,” with a literal sense of “stripped.” Leptós is also the source of leptin, a hormone thought to suppress appetite and speed up metabolism.

What are variants of lepto-?

When combined with words or word elements that begin with a vowel, lepto- can become lept-.

Examples of lepto-

One example of a term that features the combining form lepto- is leptocyte. A leptocyte is an abnormally thin or flattened red blood cell having a central rounded pigmented area, a middle pigmentless zone, and a pigmented edge.

The first part of the word, lepto-, can mean “thin,” as we’ve seen. The combining form cyte might look familiar, too; it means “cell.” Leptocyte, then, literally translates to “thin cell.”

Another word that uses lepto- is leptospirosis, an infectious disease that can cause fever, muscle pain, jaundice, and more sometimes more severe liver and kidney problems  in humans, dogs, horses, pigs, and other animals. Popularly known as lepto for short, leptospirosis takes its name from leptospira, a kind of spiral-shaped bacteria that can cause the disease. Dogs commonly get leptospirosis from exposure to water, soil, urine, and rodents carrying the bacteria; antibiotics can help treat leptospirosis and a vaccine can help prevent it.

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

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

Break it down!

The combining form phyllous means “having leaves.” With this in mind, what kind of leaves does a leptophyllous plant have?

How to use lepto in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for lepto


before a vowel lept-

combining form
fine, slender, or slightleptosome

Word Origin for lepto-

from Greek leptos thin, literally: peeled, from lepein to peel
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