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


What does myel- mean?

Myel- is a combining form used like a prefix meaning “marrow” or “of the spinal cord.” It is often used in medical terms.

Marrow is a soft, fatty, vascular tissue in the interior cavities of bones that is a major site of blood cell production.

Myel- comes from the Greek myelós, meaning “marrow.”

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

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

Examples of myel-

An example of a word you may have seen that features myel- is myelitis, the medical term for inflammation of bone marrow or the substance of the spinal cord.

As you know, the combining form myel- means “marrow” or “of the spinal cord.” But what about the rest of the word, -itis? It might also look familiar. The combining form -itis is used in medical terms for “inflammation.” The word myelitis translates literally to “marrow (or spinal cord) inflammation.”

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

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

Break it down!

The combining form -osis refers to disorders and abnormal states. What tissue in the body does myelosis have an abnormal proliferation of?

British Dictionary definitions for myel-


before a consonant myelo-

combining form
the spinal cord or bone marrowmyeloid

Word Origin for myel-

from Greek muelos marrow, spinal cord, from mus muscle
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