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a combining form meaning “kidney,” used in the formation of compound words: nephrolith.
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Also especially before a vowel, nephr-.

Origin of nephro-

Combining form representing Greek nephrós kidney, kidneys
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What does nephro- mean?

Nephro- is a combining form used like a prefix meaning “kidney.” It is often used in medical terms, especially in anatomy and pathology.

Nephro- comes from the Greek nephrós, meaning “kidney, kidneys.” The Latin word for kidney is rēnēs, yielding such English words as renal.

What are variants of nephro-?

When combined with words or word elements that begin with a vowel, nephro- becomes nephr-, as in nephralgia.

Examples of nephro-

An example of a word you may have encountered that features nephro- is nephrolith, “a renal calculus; kidney stone.” (Ouch.)

Nephro-, as we’ve seen, means “kidney,” and -lith is a combining form meaning “stone.” So, a nephrolith literally translates to “kidney stone.”

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

What are some other forms that nephro– may be commonly confused with?

Be mindful that many other words begin with neph- but aren’t using the full combining form nephro- to denote “kidneys,” such as nephew or nephanalysis. Discover what nephanalysis has to do with mapping clouds at our entry for the word.

Break it down!

Put your knowledge of the meaning of nephro- to the test! What is a nephrologist?

British Dictionary definitions for nephro-


before a vowel nephr-

combining form
kidney or kidneysnephrotomy

Word Origin for nephro-

from Greek nephros
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

Medical definitions for nephro-


Kidney; kidneylike structure:nephrotomy.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.