Definition of cryo-

: cold : freezing cryogen cryopreservation

History and Etymology for cryo-

Greek krýos (neuter s-stem) "icy cold, frost" (of uncertain origin) + -o-

Note: Greek krýos has long been associated with Latin crusta "hard surface layer, crust" and Greek krýstallos "ice, rock crystal," though these words most likely have different explanations (see crust, crystal entry 1). The best possibilities for comparison are perhaps Old Norse hrjósa "to shiver" and Tocharian B krośce "cold" (from Proto-Tocharian *kwroscē per Douglas Adams, A Dictionary of Tocharian B, 2nd edition [Rodopi, 2013], p. 236). Old High German roso, rosa "crust, layer of ice" may not belong here if the "ice" sense is secondary. On the basis of the related derivative krȳmós "icy cold, frost, chill," a comparison has been made with Avestan xrūma- "horrible," which, if reconstructed as *kruh2-mo-, may contain Indo-European *kruh2- "(dried) blood" (see raw entry 1), but the sense development "blood" > "horror" > "chill, cold" seems quite tenuous. The vowel length in krȳmós may be in any case of secondary origin. (For details see Robert Beekes, Etymological Dictionary of Greek [Leiden: Brill, 2010], p. 786.)

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about cryo-

Statistics for cryo-

Cite this Entry

“Cryo-.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cryo-. Accessed 24 Jan. 2021.

Comments on cryo-

What made you want to look up cryo-? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Typeshift

Anagram puzzles meet word search.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!