combining form

: developmental malformation

Word History


borrowed from Greek, combining form from terat-, téras (earlier, in Homer, inflected as an s-stem, with accusative plural téraa) "sign sent by the gods, portent, marvel, monster," of uncertain origin

Note: The sense "developmental malformation" follows the use in teratology.Greek téras has been compared with semantically similar pélōr "prodigy, monster" (applied in Homer to the Cyclops, Scylla and the god Hephaestus), with a variant télōr. Assuming that this pair derives by dissimilation from *kwer-ōr-, both nouns may descend from a base *kwer-, perhaps to be connected with Old Church Slavic čarŭ "sorcery, witchcraft," Lithuanian kẽras "magic, sorcery," Sanskrit kṛṇoti "(s/he) does, makes, accomplishes" (with a shift "make, perform" > "perform magic") (cf. karma).

Dictionary Entries Near terato-

Cite this Entry

“Terato-.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/terato-. Accessed 3 Dec. 2023.

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