Sunday, May 3, 2009

-itis: disease, inflammation of

Welcome back, aficionados of Greek and Latin roots of English vocabulary words. Thank you for reading the posts of the last two weeks which discussed not only SAT words of the Greek root word pathos, but also GRE and medical vocabulary of the Greek root pathos. I have decided to move on to a new Greek root, that is, -itis, a suffix which usually indicates an inflammation of a part of the body, the main stem or morpheme of the word to which it is appended. I will spend the next two posts considering -itis and the primarily Greek main stems that go with it.
Most people know the following common English words ending in the Greek suffix -itis: appendicitis, tonsillitis, tendonitis/tendinitis, Achilles tendonitis/tendinitis, laryngitis, and even such nonce words as televisionitis (a true disease) and chocolatitis! More common, however, to the physician, and perhaps not yet so common to those first-year students in medical school learning thousands of new medical vocabulary terms, are the following words ending in -itis:

peritonitis: (via the Greek root word peritonaios, stretched across; note that the primary root of this word is the Greek root word teinein, to stretch, which gives us the following English words, among many others: tendonitis, Achilles tendinitis, hypotenuse, monotonous, and tetanus): inflammation of the peritoneum, the membrance that contains the viscera and lines the walls of the abdominal cavity.

gastritis: (via the Greek root word gaster, gastros—stomach, belly {gastro-} which is the source of such English vocabulary as gastrology, gastrolith, gastronomy, gastrointestinal, and gastric): inflammation of the stomach, which can be chronic or acute, especially the mucous membrane thereof.

colitis or colonitis: (via the Greek root kolon (Gr.)—large intestine, word origin of such medical and anatomical vocabulary as colon, coloscopy, colonoscopy, colostomy,colotomy, ascending colon, descending colon, and transverse colon): inflammation of the colon.

nephritis: (via the Greek root word Nephros (Gr.)—kidney, source of the following words from anatomy and medicine: nephrology, nephron, nephrosis, nephrotomy, nephrectomy, nephrite, and nephrorrhagia): inflammation, acute or chronic, of the kidneys, caused by many different diseases or pathologies.

encephalitis: (via the Greek root word Kephale—head {cephal, cephalo-} word origin of a such English words as: cephalopod, Pachycephalosaurus, Homalocephale, Rhynchocephala, and enkephalin): inflammation of the brain.

dermatitis: (via the Greek root word derma, dermatos: skin, word origin of such English words as dermatology, epidermis, taxidermy, dermatoplasty, echinodermata, and, of course, dermatologist): inflammation of the skin, etiologies of which are legion.

rhinitis: (via the Greek root word rhis, rhinos: nose, word origin of many English words, including: rhinorrhea, rhinoscopy, otorhinolaryngology, rhinoplasty, and rhinoceros): inflammation of the nose, that is, of the mucous membranes that line the nasal cavity

bursitis: (via the first of our Latin roots...again, one can see the somewhat more limited use of Latin roots as they pertain to medical word origins...bursa: purse, source of the SAT words disburse and disbursement, as well as purse (b's often change to p's via Grimm's law), bursar, bourse, and bursectomy): inflammation of the bursae, those lubricating "sacs" that help limit friction in the body between a tendons and bones.

parotitis: inflammation of the parotid or salivary glands, those placed below and in front of each ear; a more common word for this pathology is mumps.

phlebitis: (via the Greek root phleps, phlebos: blood vessel, vein, word origin of phlebotomy, phlebology, and phlebography): inflammation of a vein.

Interested in the power of word origin? In Greek and Latin roots as the linguistic core of English vocabulary? In more SAT, GRE, and medical vocabulary that comes from such root words as teinein, to stretch; gaster, gastros: the belly; kolon: large intestine; nephros: kidney; kephale: head; derma, dermatos: skin; and rhis, rhinos: nose? All of the word roots mentioned in all my blog posts are fully fleshed out in the most comprehensive Greek and Latin roots dictionary available today; a Greek and Latin roots poster is also available, which beautifully illustrates not only the sheer power of Greek and Latin roots as they form the very semantic and morphemic structure of the English language, but also contains a prolific number of GRE and SAT vocabulary words, including a vast host of medical vocabulary.  Or, if you're looking to learn vocabulary for the SAT or GRE verbal section, check out, where vocabulary is taught to you via an Adaptive Reinforcement Engine in a fun and engaging way which at the same time enhances your memory.