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Ur

[ ur, oor ]
/ ɜr, ʊər /
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noun
an ancient Sumerian city on the Euphrates, in S Iraq: extensive excavations, especially of royal tombs.
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Other definitions for Ur (2 of 4)

ur-1

variant of uro-1: uranalysis.

Other definitions for Ur (3 of 4)

ur-2

variant of uro-2 before a vowel: urite.

Other definitions for Ur (4 of 4)

ur-3

(sometimes initial capital letter)
a combining form meaning “earliest, original,” used in words denoting the primal stage of a historical or cultural entity or phenomenon: ur-civilization; urtext.

Origin of ur-

3
<German ur-,Middle High German, Old High German; cognate with Old English or-
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

WORDS THAT USE UR-

What does ur- mean?

Ur- is a combining form used like a prefix that has two unrelated senses.

The first is “urine.” It is used occasionally in medical terms, especially in pathology. In some rare instances, like urate, ur- specifically denotes uric acid, a compound found in urine. This ur- comes from Greek oûron, meaning “urine.” Other combining forms that mean “urine,” such as urino- and urin-, come from the Latin for “urine,” ūrīn(a).

The second is “earliest” or “original.” It is frequently used or appendaged to a wide variety of terms. In some instances, it is stylized with a hyphen after the form, as in ur-fascism. Because the German language capitalizes nouns, the combining form ur- sometimes appears as Ur-, as in Urheimat. This ur- comes from Old High German ur-, meaning “thoroughly.”

Despite popular misconception, the name Uranus, a planet named for a Roman god, does not use the combining form ur- to mean “urine” or “earliest.” Discover more about the origins of this name at our entry for Uranus. The chemical compound uranium is also named after this figure from Greco-Roman mythology.

What are variants of ur-?

The “urine” sense of ur- are variants of uro-, which loses its -o- when combined with words or word elements beginning with vowels. Want to know more? Read our Words That Use uro- article.

Note that uro- can also mean “tail.” It is occasionally used in scientific terms, especially in anatomy and zoology. This uro- ultimately comes from Greek ourá, meaning “tail.”

Examples of ur- meaning “urine”

One example of a medical term that features the combining form ur- is uremia, “a condition resulting from the retention in the blood of constituents normally excreted in the urine.”

Ur- typically means “urine” in medical terms, while -emia denotes a blood condition; this latter form derives from Greek haîma, meaning “blood.” Uremia literally means “urine (in the) blood.”

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

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

Words that begin ure- do not always use ur- as a combining form to mean “urine.” Frequently, it is an abbreviation of urea, a chemical compound that occurs in urine. Find out more at our entry for urease.

Break it down!

The suffix -esis is used to denote an action or process. With this in mind, what is uresis?

Examples of ur- meaning “earliest”

One example of a term you may have encountered that features the combining form ur- to mean “original,” is urtext, “the original form of a text, especially of a musical composition.”

In this term, ur- means “original,” and, as you probably guessed, -text means “text.” Urtext literally translates to “original text.” A well-known example of an urtext is Ur-Hamlet, which is the title retroactively given to a lost urtext that may have influenced William Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Thomas Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy.

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

  • ur-origin
  • ur-stock
  • urform
  • urlanguage

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

Not every word that begins with the exact letters ur-, such as urge or ursine, is necessarily using the combining forming ur- to denote “original.” Learn why ursine means “bearlike” at our entry for the word.

Break it down!

Researchers and anthropologists have long searched for the ur-language of human civilization. Keeping in mind the meaning of ur-, what is the ur-language?

How to use Ur in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for Ur (1 of 4)

Ur
/ (ɜː) /

noun
an ancient city of Sumer located on a former channel of the Euphrates

British Dictionary definitions for Ur (2 of 4)

UR
/ text messaging /

abbreviation for
you are
your

British Dictionary definitions for Ur (3 of 4)

ur-

combining form
a variant of uro- 1, uro- 2

British Dictionary definitions for Ur (4 of 4)

Ur-

combining form
original, primitiveUrsprache

Word Origin for Ur-

German
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 Ur

ur-

pref.
Variant ofuro-
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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