Veterinary Terminology Cheat Sheet

Veterinary Terminology

Veterinary science, like any other field of medicine, has a vast amount of its own unique terms. It’s important when attending veterinary assistant school to learn the basic terminology to more effectively communicate in a veterinary office. Like other medical terminology, veterinary terms are best learned by breaking them down into their component parts. Veterinary terminology has three basic parts (not all of which are used in every word): the prefix, root, and suffix.

Common Veterinary Terminology Terms Defined

  • Contralateral. Prefix: Contra- (against). Root: lateral (side).
    • Meaning: Affecting the opposite side.
  • Endoscope. Prefix: Endo- (inner). Root: scope.
    • Meaning: Instrument used to view the inside of the gastrointestinal tract, or another organ.
  • Hypothyroid. Prefix: Hypo- (deficient). Root: thyroid.
    • Meaning: a Deficient activity of the thyroid gland.
  • Omnivore. Prefix: Omni- (all). Root: vore (what one eats).
    • Meaning: Animal that eats plants and meat.
  • Polydactyly. Prefix: Poly- (many). Root: dactyl (digits).
    • Meaning: Many (or extra) digits.
  • Scleroderma. Prefix: Sclero- (hardness). Root: derma (skin).
    • Meaning: Hardened skin.
  • Arthralgia. Root: Arthro (joints). Suffix: -algia (pain).
    • Meaning: Pain in the joints.
  • Gingivitis. Root: Gingiva (gums). Suffix: -itis (inflammation).
    • Meaning: Inflammation of the gums.
  • Hematoma. Root: Hemo (blood). Suffix: -oma (tumor or mass).
    • Meaning: A localized collection of blood, usually clotted, in an organ, space, or tissue.
  • Laparoscopy. Root: Laparo (loin or flank). Suffix: -scopy (visual examination process).
    • Meaning: Visualization of the abdominal cavity.
  • Pancreatitis. Root: Pancreas. Suffix: -itis (inflammation).
    • Meaning: Inflammation of the pancreas.
  • Pathology. Root: Patho (disease). Suffix: -ology (study).
    • Meaning: The study of disease.
  • Bradycardic. Prefix: Brady- (slow). Root: cardio (heart). Suffix: -ic (pertaining to).
    • Meaning: Slow heart rhythm.
  • Hemilaminectomy. Prefix: Hemi- (half). Root: lamina. Suffix: -ectomy (excision).
    • Meaning: Removal of one side of a vertebral lamina.
  • Prognathism. Prefix: Pro- (in front of). Root: nath (jaw). Suffix: -ism (condition).
    • Meaning: Abnormal protrusion of one or both jaws.
  • Echocardiogram. Prefix: Echo- (sound). Root: cardio (heart). Suffix: -gram (tracing).
    • Meaning: The record produced by a sound wave examination of the heart.

**Please note: This is not a full list of veterinary terminology. Students will be tested on a wider variety of terms.

The task of trying to memorize every single term may seem daunting at first. Breaking down the term by the prefix, root, and suffix will help make things a lot easier. We hope these simple grammar rules have helped you master veterinary vocabulary. The veterinary assistant training program at Milwaukee Career College prepares students with the skills needed to succeed as a vet tech or veterinary assistant.

Contact us to learn more about veterinary assistant classes and how MCC can help you get started on your new career!


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