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a combining form used in the formation of compound words that have the general sense “lack, deficiency,” as specified by the initial element: leukopenia.
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Origin of -penia

<New Latin, combining form representing Greek penía poverty, need
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does -penia mean?

The combining form -penia is used like a suffix meaning “lack” or “deficiency.” It is often used in medical terms.

The combining form -penia is ultimately based on the Greek penía, meaning “poverty” or “need.” The word penury, meaning “extreme poverty,” is related. Discover how at our entry for penury.

Examples of -penia

The medical term leukopenia, meaning “the decrease in the number of white blood cells in the blood,” is an example of a word that features the form –penia.

The first part of the word, leuko, means “white” and is used to refer to white blood cells. The form –penia means “deficiency,” as we’ve seen. So, leukopenia literally translates to “lack of white blood cells.”

What are some words that use the combining form -penia?

What are some other forms that -penia may be commonly confused with?

Break it down!

The combining form osteo- means “bone.” With this in mind, what would you say the condition of osteopenia involves?

How to use -penia in a sentence

Medical definitions for -penia


Lack; deficiency:leukopenia.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.