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Definition & Meaning: Embryo- Word Root

The word “embryo-” refers to an unborn or unhatched offspring in the process of development. In humans, this term is particularly used during the period from approximately the second to the eighth week after fertilization, after which it is usually termed a fetus. The root “embryo-” is widely used in biological terms such as embryology, embryogenesis, embryoscopy, and embryopathy. The adjective form, “embryonic,” also has a figurative sense, describing something that is in a rudimentary stage with potential for further development.

Diagram showing words derived from the root word "embryo-"

Understanding the Term: Embryology

To have a better understanding, let’s break down the word Embryology:

  • Embryo: Fetus/unhatched offspring
  • Logy: Study of
  • Embryology: The branch of biology and medicine concerned with the study of embryos and their development

Words Based on the Embryo- Word Root

Commonly Used Words based on this Word Root:

  • Embryology: The study of embryos and their development.
  • Embryonic: Pertaining to an embryo; in an early stage of development.
  • Embryologists: Specialists in embryology.

Archaic Words based on this Word Root:

  • Embryonated: In a state of having an embryo.

Technical Words/Jargon based on this Word Root:

  • Embryogenic: Referring to the process where explants produce undifferentiated or partially differentiated cells that can develop into plant tissues.
  • Embryoid: Three-dimensional aggregates of pluripotent stem cells.
  • Embryoplasty: A procedure where fragments developing between an embryo’s cells are removed.
  • Embryophyte: Green plants that form vegetation on earth, including mosses, ferns, and flowering plants.
  • Embryogeny: The production and development of an embryo.
  • Extraembryonic membrane: Membranes that develop outside the embryo, such as the amnion and yolk sac in birds and reptiles.
  • Embryoblast: A mass of cells at the embryonic pole of the blastocyst that forms the embryo.

Related Word Roots

Here are some related word roots that carry similar meanings:


Meaning: Pertaining to a fetus.

  • Fetology: The branch of medicine dealing with the fetus in the uterus.
  • Fetoscope: An instrument used to examine the fetus in the womb.
  • Fetography: Radiographic imaging of the fetus.


Meaning: Related to the early development stage of organisms.

  • Germinate: To begin to grow or develop.
  • Germinal: In the earliest stage of development.
  • Germicide: A substance that kills germs.


Meaning: Referring to an immature or embryonic cell.

  • Blastocyst: A structure formed in the early development of mammals, containing the embryoblast.
  • Blastogenesis: The formation of new individuals by budding.
  • Blastomere: A cell formed by cleavage of a fertilized ovum.

Understanding these root words helps in deciphering complex terms and enhances your vocabulary. By linking words to their roots, you can break down and grasp their meanings more easily.

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Explore Our Full Word Roots Section

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