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


What does melan- mean?

Melan- is a combining form used like a prefix meaning “black” or “dark-colored.” In biology and medicine, melan- is specifically used to refer to melanin, “any of a class of insoluble pigments, found in all forms of animal life, that account for the dark color of skin, hair, fur, scales, feathers, etc.”

Melan- comes from the Greek mélās, meaning “black.” Did you know the word melancholy also derives in part from this Greek root? Discover the connection between gloominess and the Greek word for black at our entry and in our video for melancholy.

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

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

Examples of melan-

One word you may be familiar with that features melan- is melanoma, a medical term for various types of skin tumors.

The first part of the word, melan-, means “black,” as we now know. The second part of the word, -oma, is a suffix used for naming tumors. Melanoma literally translates to “black or dark tumor.”

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

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

Break it down!

Albinism is a condition that causes pale skin, light hair, and pinkish eyes due to a lack of the ability to produce melanin. What is the name of the condition where an animal produces an unusually high amount of melanin?

How to use melan- in a sentence

  • Theocritus calls the hyacinth black—melan—and so does Vergil.

    In a Little Town|Rupert Hughes