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variant of leuko- before a vowel.
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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does leuk- mean?

Leuk- is a combining form used like a prefix meaning “white” or “white blood cell.” It is often used in medical terms, especially in pathology.

Leuk- comes from the Greek leukós, meaning “white, bright.”

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

The combining form leuc-, as in leucoline, is a common variant of leuk-.

Want to know more? Read our Words That Use leuko-, leuc-, and leuco- articles.

Examples of leuk-

Leukemia, sometimes spelled leucemia, is a type of cancer of the bone marrow that prevents the normal manufacture of red and white blood cells and platelets. It results in anemia, increased susceptibility to infection, and impaired blood clotting.

The English word leukemia comes immediately from the German Leukämie, a term in turn based on the Greek leukós, source of leuk-.

What about the -emia portion of leukemia? It is a combining form that denotes a condition of the blood, and ultimately comes from the Greek root haîma, meaning “blood.” Hematology, the study of blood, is another word you may have come across that also comes from  Greek.

So, putting it all back together, leukemia has the literal sense of “(disease of) white blood (cells).”

What are some words that use or are related to the combining form leuk-?

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

Break it down!

The suffix osis is used to indicate abnormal states, especially diseases. Leukosis is a disease that chiefly affects chicken. What part of the body does it affect?

How to use leuk- in a sentence