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a combining form meaning “place,” “local,” used in the formation of compound words: topography; topology.
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Question 1 of 7
Which sentence is correct?
Also especially before a vowel, top-.

Origin of topo-

Combining form of Greek tópos place, commonplace
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does topo- mean?

Topo- is a combining form used like a prefix meaning “place” or “local.” It is often used in scientific and other technical terms.

Topo- comes from the Greek tópos, meaning “place” or “commonplace.” Commonplace? Yep, discover why at our entry here. The word topic also ultimately comes from the Greek tópos.

What are variants of topo-?

When combined with words or word elements that begin with a vowel, topo- becomes top-, as in topalgia.

Examples of topo-

One term you may have encountered that uses topo- is topology, a branch of mathematics that concerns the properties of geometric forms that aren’t affected by bending, stretching, and other such transformations.

The first part of the word, topo-, means “place.” What about -logy? The second part, -logy, comes from the Greek lógos, meaning “word” and is widely used in English to indicate an area of study. Topology literally means “place study” (think spatial relations).

You have probably heard of a topographical map, which provides a detailed picture of the physical features of an area, such as a city. Topography ultimately comes from the Greek topographía, featuring the Greek forms of topo- and -graphy and literally meaning “place drawing.”

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

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

Break it down!

Chemistry is the study of the composition and properties of substances and matter.

Based on the meaning of topo-, can you guess what topochemistry specifically studies?

How to use topo- in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for topo- (1 of 2)

/ (ˈtɒpəʊ) /

noun plural topos
mountaineering a picture of a mountain with details of climbing routes superimposed on it

Word Origin for topo

C20: shortened from topographical picture

British Dictionary definitions for topo- (2 of 2)


before a vowel top-

combining form
indicating place or regiontopography; topology; toponym; topotype

Word Origin for topo-

from Greek topos a place, commonplace
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