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a combining form meaning “without fertilization,” used in the formation of compound words: parthenogenesis.



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Origin of partheno-

<Greek, combining form representing parthénos maiden
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What does partheno- mean?

Partheno- is a combining form used like a prefix meaning “without fertilization.” In biology, fertilization specifically refers to sexual fusion of gametes. It is used in some biological terms, especially in botany.

Partheno- comes from the Greek parthénos, meaning “maiden” or “virgin.” The rare adjective parthenic, meaning “virginal” or “pure,” also derives from this root. The Parthenon is the magnificent temple of Athena Parthenos—Athena the Virgin, with Parthenos an epithet of the important goddess—on the Acropolis at Athens, Greece.

Examples of partheno-

One example of a term from botany that features the combining form partheno- is parthenospore, “a spore developed without fertilization.”

We know partheno- means “without fertilization.” And, as you may have guessed, -spore is a combining form representing spore, a reproductive unit in plants and some other organisms that can develop into a new individual. So, parthenospore has a literal sense of a “virgin spore”—that’s because such spores can reproduce themselves without the fusion of male and female gametes.

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

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

Break it down!

Genesis means “an origin, creation, beginning.” With this in mind, what does it mean if an egg is developed by parthenogenesis?

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