There's this video where a guy explains meanings of medical terms:


He explains the word "hypokalemia" as:

  • "hypo" - meaning "low"
  • "kal" - meaning "potassium" (K)
  • "emia" - meaning "presence in blood"

I was wondering if there's a site/software that does this for all words (in english language, not just medical terms).

OS: Windows

Price limit: $100 (per year in case of a subscription model)

  • Dictionaries usually provide some information on a word's etymology, where possible. For example, dictionary.com/browse/hypokalemia#source-word-origin Do you need a desktop software specifically? Is there any particular reason for that, like text editor integration or mass processing? Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 3:39

3 Answers 3


A start for a DIY piece might be this dictionary along with its companion for suffixes.

There are a few Python codes at Python codes -- they produce output like:

['con', 'struct']
- prefixes: ['con']
- root: struct

So combining the definitions from the first link with something like the codes in the second might help answer your question. It also looks like one would want to add a local dictionary for medical and other professional terms.

Best wishes ... cheers, drl


In my experience each dictionary varies in its ability to break the words down, because that's usually not done by an automatic tool but manually by the dictionary's composer.

It's not easy to automate this because some affixes got changed a bit when applying to the roots (most commonly occur when the 2 merging ends are 2 vowels), and sometimes what looks like an affix isn't a real affix. For example -emia actually contains the suffix -ia, but should you split the infix -em- as well? In Latin there are a lot of infixes like -m-, -n-, -an-, -de-... which are almost impossible for the machine to know where to split

As a result it's better to compare the result from various sources

It seems TheFreeDictionary often does the best work of showing the full etymology. This is what you get for hypokalemia:

[hypo- + New Latin kalium, potassium (from Medieval Latin kali, alkali, potassium, from Arabic qily, ashes, lye, potash; see alkali) + -emia.]


You can click the hypo- and -emia links to get more detailed meanings

Meriam-Webster also gives the same information for hypokalemia but not for many other words

Wiktionary is a good source of etymology, too. It's often the one with most detailed information about a word across languages.


I simply use Google. For instance:

  sophisticated etymology

Google will give you the word origin and detailed analysis.

  • They never get macabre right; the word comes from the Arabic "ma cabr" (cemetery).
    – user26732
    Commented Sep 8, 2021 at 10:59

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.