Medical Prefixes to Indicate Inside or Outside

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  • 0:02 Prefixes
  • 0:48 Intra- and Inter-
  • 2:20 Other Prefixes
  • 2:55 Outside or Out Prefixes
  • 3:45 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Adrianne Baron

Adrianne has taught high school and college biology and has a master's degree in cancer biology.

Learn all about the different prefixes that can be used to describe inside or outside structures of the body. We will go over examples of using the different prefixes.


The overall purpose of prefixes is to make the meaning of a medical term even more specific. Some prefixes do this by telling time, amount, location, position, size, or by negating what the rest of the term means. It is easiest to learn the prefixes by looking at each category and becoming familiar with the prefixes and how they are used.

We are going to look at the prefixes that indicate location. Let's be methodical about our approach to learning the location prefixes. In some instances, more than one prefix has the same meaning, so we'll look at those at the same time. Most location prefixes also have a prefix that means the opposite, so we'll look at opposites as well. This should help the prefixes to stick in your head a little better.

Location Prefixes: Intra- and Inter-

You know a little more about some of these prefixes than you probably think you do. I bet the prefix inter- looks a little familiar to you. Of course it does! You drive on the interstate all of the time, right? You like to do some international traveling, correct? It has the same meaning in medicine as it does in general. Inter- means 'between.' Just as the interstate goes between states and an international flight goes between countries, inter in medicine will indicate that something is going between two parts of the body.

Examples of this include, intercostal and intercerebral. Intercostal means 'between ribs' since cost- is the word root for ribs. Intercerebral means 'between the cerebrum,' which in this case refers to the hemispheres of the cerebrum. You will often see the term interstitial used to describe location. This entire term means 'standing between' or 'positioned between.' For instance, interstitial tissue means something is located between tissues.

Intra- is a prefix that looks similar to inter but differs in meaning. Intra- means 'within' or 'inside.' Maybe you have heard of an IUD, which is an intrauterine device. Intrauterine means 'within the uterus.' This refers to a device that is placed inside of the uterus. Another term that uses the prefix intra- is intracellular. This term means 'within the cells.'

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