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a combining form of sperm1, used also with the meaning “seed,” “germ,” “semen,” in the formation of compound words: spermophyte.
Should you take this quiz on “shall” versus “should”? It should prove to be a quick challenge!
Question 1 of 6
Which form is used to state an obligation or duty someone has?
Also especially before a vowel, sperm-.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does spermo- mean?

Spermo- is a combining form used like a prefix representing “sperm.” Sperm are the reproductive cells contained in semen. Spermo- means “sperm” both literally and figuratively, as in “germ” or “seed.” It is occasionally used in scientific terms, especially in biology.

Spermo- comes from the Greek spérma, meaning “seed.”

What are variants of spermo-?

When combined with words or word elements that begin with a vowel, spermo- becomes sperm-, as in spermous.

The forms spermi- and spermato- are also combining forms from Greek spérma that are variously used to mean “sperm” or “seed.”

Related combining forms used as suffixes include -sperm, -spermal, -spermic, and -spermous.

Want to learn more? Check out our Words That Use entries for each of these seven forms.

Examples of spermo-

One example of a scientific term that features the combining form spermo- is spermophile, “any of various burrowing rodents of the squirrel family.”

One of the various meanings of spermo- is “seed,” while the combining form -phile means “lover of” or “enthusiast for.” Spermophile literally translates to “lover of seeds,” an accurate description of acorn-burying squirrels.

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

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

Break it down!

A synonym for toxin is “poison.” With this in mind, what bodily substance does a spermotoxin poison?