What are the meaning and origin of the suffix ‑don, as in the words pteranodon and megalodon?


-odon (not just -don) means tooth. It is a variation of the suffix -odont, which comes from odon, which is Greek for tooth.

pter-anódōn means winged-toothless; megalodon means large-toothed. I learned Greek a while ago, and though I'm rusty, I recognized the words behind those names.

  • AH, makes perfect sense now. I can see the root in the word orthodontist! Appreciated! – Gabe Jul 13 '11 at 16:01
  • @Gabe: Yes. Ortho- means straight or correct; -dont means tooth (or teeth, in this case). So an orthodontist is a "straight-toothist", or "tooth-straightener". – Daniel Jul 13 '11 at 16:08

The suffix is not -don but -odon... Look at the etymology for "Ptenarodon":

ORIGIN modern Latin, from Greek pteron ‘wing’ + an- ‘without’ + odous, odont- ‘tooth.’

"Odont" still survives in Italian (I'm not aware about other languages), for example in the medical field "Odontoiatria" which treats about preventing/healing deseases that affect teeth, mandibles, gum, etc.

  • and it's related to Latin "dent-", and indeed to German "Zahn" - yes, and English "tooth", though those are not so obvious. – Colin Fine Jul 13 '11 at 16:49
  • @Colin: In italian teeth = denti :D – Alenanno Jul 13 '11 at 17:07

It’s the Greek for tooth. Megalodon = big tooth. Iguanadon = lizard tooth.

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