Thinking about the word cardiology and that which the cardiac pump does for one (via the Greek root word kardia: heart), one naturally moves on to the circulatory system and the primary fluid which runs through the veins, arteries, and capillaries, the predominant root word for which stems from Greek:

Haima, haimatos—blood {em, -emia, haemo-, hem, hemat-, hemato-, hemo-}

In this article and subsequent discussions, I will divulge the fascinating etymologies using this Greek root word and its multiple spelling permutations.

If one is anemic, or afflicted with anemia, one is etymologically "without blood," via the Greek prefix a, an: without (note as well that the Latin suffix -ia means "an abnormal or pathological condition," contained in such pathologies as hemophilia, amnesia, insomnia, anorexia, paranoia, hysteria, pneumonia, hypochondria, aphasia, bulimia, neuralgia, mastalgia, and myopia). Hence, if one is deficient in blood, it is easy to see that anemia can refer to deficiencies in hemoglobin count, and/or erythrocyte count or volume per unit of blood.

Hemoglobin (short for hematinoglobulin), deriving also from the Latin root word globus (sphere, somewhat spherical mass) refers to a molecule that consists of four globular protein subunits (dubbed alpha and beta) that provide a structure for ferrous heme groups that bond oxygen atoms to themselves by means of iron and in such a way acts as the primary carrier or transport system of oxygen in the blood stream (for an informative article vis a vis hemoglobin, please check out where you will discover via some fairly sophisticated illustrations that illuminate very well why the Greek word for blood and the Latin word for sphere were used to coin this word).

Hemophilia (or the British English version haemophilia) is a fairly rare (about 1 in 10,000) ailment or pathological condition primarily present among males, where the blood fails to clot normally; the blood thereby is deficient in clotting factors, such as platelet count and other coagulatory agents. Note that the word itself, other than the Greek word for blood, also contains the common Greek root word philein, "to love." Hence, a hemophiliac is someone who "loves blood" because they lose it so readily, and hence need more and more. Note that a deficiency in coagulation factor VIII is the most common cause of hemophilia.

A hemorrhoid arrives via the Greek verb rhein to flow (also giving us words such as diarrhea, amenorrhea, and rheumatism); hence, a hemorrhoid is an excessive "flowing of the blood," which causes a tumid mass of swollen anal tissue (that is, blood flowing where it should not be), which is the same problem found in a hemorrhage, which is even worse since it refers to blood gushing out of a blood vessel when it should not be, such as a brain hemorrhage. A hemorrhage can also refer to a large loss of anything, such as share values hemorrhaging in a severe bear market.

Hematology is the study of the blood and those hematogenous organs that produce the blood, a vast discipline which the hematologist makes her life study of, that is, the study of diseases and disorders of the blood and the blood-forming tissues. I will discuss the pathology of blood related to its etymological origins in my next post.

n.b. The Latin root for blood, sanguis, sanguinis, has been largely ignored by the medical community. The most useful word that comes from this root word is sanguine, so named because an abundance of the medieval humor ‘blood’ was thought to make someone sanguine, or ‘cheerful’ and ‘optimistic.’

Note that all of the above Greek and Latin root words can be more fully analyzed at, where the core of the English language is revealed and demystified.

Author's Bio: 

Brett Brunner has been teaching Latin and English vocabulary in college-prep schools for seventeen years, as well as summer courses targeting the verbal section of the SAT. He spent eleven years at Saint Mary’s Hall in San Antonio, TX, where he presided as the chair of the Language Department, overseeing the Spanish, Japanese, French, and Latin programs; in addition, he taught Latin, etymology, philosophy, and world history. He designed a course in Greek and Latin roots to build vocabulary in the mid 90s, from which he had the idea of creating his own comprehensive Greek and Latin roots textbook, Word Empire, which is now used by numerous schools and individuals, and includes distribution through the American Classical League. He spent the academic year of 2000-2001 on sabbatical, finishing Word Empire, and recently completed Word Empire III: Clarity; he also wrote a book on teaching methodology, entitled Chaos Motivation, which describes his unique, infrastructural motivational methodology--he finished the second edition of Chaos Motivation in the fall of 2006. He holds an undergraduate honors degree from UW Madison, and an M.A. in English from the University of Virginia; he has continued his studies in Latin at the University of Georgia at Athens. He was awarded the prestigious Master Teacher's award at Saint Mary's Hall in the fall of 2003 for his success in motivating students at the middle and upper-school levels. In June of 2005, Mr. Brunner was named Teen Ink’s Educator of the Year. Mr. Brunner regularly presents his learning English vocabulary methodology at conferences, the most recent being at Vanderbilt University for the American Classical League. He currently teaches Latin at Tandem Friends School in Charlottesville, VA, where he writes a Latin roots SAT word of the day column on the school's web site, and also frequently contributes to his Greek and Latin roots blog.