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-itis

Inflammatory disease.

Greek feminine form of adjectives ending in ‑itēs.

In Greek, such adjectives were often used alone, with a following noun understood, especially nosos, disease. For example, though nephritis in classical Greek strictly meant ‘of the kidneys’, it actually referred to a disease of that organ. Application specifically to inflammations occurred in English from the eighteenth century onwards. A large number of such terms now exists, of which a few are given in the list below.

The ending is often used facetiously in temporary formations that refer to some state of mind or tendency viewed as a disease: celebritis, excessive admiration for celebrities; electionitis; lotteryitis; millenniumitis.

Examples of words in -itis

appendicitis

inflammation of the appendix

English appendix

arthritis

disease causing inflammation of the joints

Greek arthron, joint

bronchitis

inflammation of the mucous membrane in the bronchial tubes

Greek bronkhos, windpipe

colitis

inflammation of the lining of the colon

English colon, from Greek kolon

conjunctivitis

inflammation of the conjunctiva, the mucous membrane that covers the front of the eye

Latin conjungere, join together

cystitis

inflammation of the urinary bladder

Greek kustis, bladder

dermatitis

an inflammatory condition of the skin

Greek derma, dermat‑, skin

encephalitis

inflammation of the brain

Greek enkephalos, brain

gastritis

inflammation of the lining of the stomach

Greek gastēr, gastr‑, stomach

hepatitis

inflammation of the liver

Greek hēpar, hēpat‑, liver

mastitis

inflammation of the mammary gland in the breast or udder

Greek mastos, breast

meningitis

inflammation of the meninges, the membranes that line the skull

Greek mēninx, mēning‑, membrane

poliomyelitis

an infectious viral disease that can cause paralysis

Greek polios, grey, plus muelos, marrow

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