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a combining form meaning “wood,” used in the formation of compound words: xylophilous.
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Also especially before a vowel, xyl- .

Origin of xylo-

Combining form of Greek xýlon
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What does xylo- mean?

Xylo- is a combining form used like a prefix meaning “wood.” It is used in various scientific and other technical terms.

Xylo- comes from the Greek xýlon, meaning “wood.” This Greek root is also the direct source of such chemistry words as xylan, xylene, xylose, xylyl, and other related words.

What are variants of xylo-?

When combined with words or word elements that begin with a vowel, xylo- becomes xyl-, as in xyloid (using the equivalent form in Greek).

Examples of xylo-

An example of a word you may have encountered that features xylo- is xylophone, “a musical instrument consisting of a graduated series of wooden bars, usually sounded by striking with small wooden hammers.”

We know xylo- means “wood.” What about the -phone portion of the word? It’s a combining form from the Greek phōnḗ meaning “voice, sound.” The combining form -phone has several meanings in English, including naming types of “a musical instrument.” Xylophone literally translates to “wooden musical instrument.”

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

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

Break it down!

The combining form -phage means “a thing that devours.” What does an insect known as a xylophage eat?

British Dictionary definitions for xylo-


before a vowel xyl-

combining form
indicating woodxylophone
indicating xylenexylidine

Word Origin for xylo-

from Greek xulon wood
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