tomo-,-tom, -toma, -tomic, -tomize, -tome, -tomical, -tomically, -tomist, -tomous, -tomy; -otomy

(Greek: cut, incision; section; more often used as a suffix)

anatomy (s) (noun), anatomies (pl)
1. The profession in science dealing with morphology which is concerned with the gross and microscopic structure of animals, especially humans.
2. The study of form, or the branch of science that studies the physical structure of animals, plants, and other organisms.
3. The physical structure; especially, the internal structure, of an animal, plant, or other organism, or of any of its parts.

Gross anatomy involves structures that can be seen with the naked eye. It is the opposite of "microscopic anatomy" (or histology) which involves structures seen under the microscope.

Traditionally, both gross and microscopic anatomy have been studied in the first year of medical school in the U.S. The most celebrated textbook of anatomy in the English-speaking world is Gray's Anatomy, still a useful reference book.

The word anatomy comes from the Greek ana-, "up" or "through" + tome, "a cutting". Anatomy was once a "cutting up" because the structure of the body was originally learned through dissecting it; that is, cutting it up.

atom (s) (noun), atoms (pl)
1. A core, or nucleus, of protons and neutrons that are surrounded by an orbiting cloud of electrons: The chemical behavior of an atom is largely determined by the distribution of its electrons, particularly the number that exist in its outermost level.

Carbon, the sixth element of the periodic table of atoms, forms the basis of most biological molecules and oxygen is another atom, one of about a hundred basic elements that make up all of the objects around us.

2. The fundament building blocks for all matter: An atom is the smallest representative sample of a chemical element and it consists of a positively charged nucleus surrounded by negatively charged electrons.

All of the matter on the Earth is made of atoms which are the chemical structures of our world.

New modern atomic theory is generally credited to an English meteorologist, John Dalton (1766-1844), who suggested that for each chemical element there was a corresponding species of indivisible objects called atoms.

Two or more atoms that are joined together form a molecule which is the same term that applies to any cluster of atoms which can be isolated, whether it contains two atoms or a thousand atoms.

3. A tiny particle or a very small amount of anything: After the politician's presentation, Nicola was heard to say that there was not an atom of truth in anything that he had said.
4. Etymology: atom means "not cut, indivisible"; from Greek atomos, "uncut, indivisible"; from a-, "not" + tomos, "a cutting"; from temnein, "to cut".
cephalotomy (s) (noun), cephalotomies (pl)
1. The surgical cutting of the fetal head to make delivery of the baby easier.
2. A dissection of the fetal head.
cirsotomy (s) (noun), cirsotomies (pl)
The medical treatment of varicose veins with multiple incisions.
colostomy (s) (noun), colostomies (pl)
A surgical operation that creates an opening from the colon (section of the large intestine) to the surface of the body to function as an artificial excretory opening: "A colostomy is an artificial exit from the colon created to divert body wastes through a hole in the colon and through the wall of the abdomen."

"A colostomy is commonly performed by severing the colon and then attaching the end leading to the stomach to the skin, through the wall of the abdomen. At the exterior opening (stoma), a bag can be attached to receive bodily-waste removal."

computerized tomography (noun), CT, CAT scan (s), computerized tomographies (pl)
1. An x-ray procedure that uses the help of a computer to produce a detailed picture of a cross section of tissue of the body.
2. A computerized axial tomography scan which is an x-ray procedure that combines many x-ray images with the aid of a computer to generate cross-sectional views and, if needed, three-dimensional images of the internal organs and structures of the body.

Computerized axial tomography is more commonly known by its abbreviated names, CT scan or CAT scan. A CT scan is used to define normal and abnormal structures in the body and/or to assist in procedures by helping to accurately guide the placement of instruments or treatments.

The procedure was used first in 1972 to study the brain and is a painless and noninvasive procedure that does not require any special preparation. It is considered to be 100 times more sensitive than conventional radiography or X-rays.

As well as being essential for the study of the brain, CT scanning is considered to be invaluable in investigating diseases of any part of the body. It is particularly useful for locating and imaging tumors, and for guiding the operator who is performing a needle biopsy.

—Information in this section is based primarily on information from
The American Medical Association, Home Medical Encyclopedia;
Medical Editor, Charles B. Clayman, MD; The Reader's Digest Association, Inc.;
New York; page 323; 1989.
Webster's New World Medical Dictionary, 3rd edition; Wiley Publishing, Inc.;
Hoboken, New Jersey; page 72; 2008.
costotomy (s) (noun), costotomies (pl)
A surgical incision or division of a rib or part of one.
cystolithotomy (s) (noun), cystolithotomies (pl)
The surgical removal of a urinary stone from the bladder through an incision (cut) in its wall.
dichotomy (s) (noun), dichotomies (pl)
A division into two usually contradictory parts or opinions: Shirley's essay discusses the dichotomy between good and evil as presented in an author's novel that she had been reading.

Tim's psychologist discussed the dichotomy of love and hate when associating with people.

A division into two equal parts.
© ALL rights are reserved.

Go to this Word A Day Revisited Index
so you can see more of Mickey Bach's cartoons.

Surgical incision or dissection of the brain.

Related cutting-word units: cast-; castrat-; -cise, -cide; -ectomy; mutil-; put-; sec-, seg-; temno-; trunc-.