I cannot understand the morphology of the word retroviral.

is "re" the prefix?

  • I think the prefix might be retro, is that true?

is "al the suffix?

  • I am assuming that "viral" is the root, is that true

2 Answers 2


retrovirus (noun) retroviral (adjective)

The prefix "retro-" has been added to "virus" because of the retrograde mechanism used for replication.

  • "Once inside the host cell cytoplasm, the virus uses its own reverse transcriptase enzyme to produce DNA from its RNA genome, the reverse of the usual pattern, thus retro (backwards)." - from Wikipedia

retrograde - "moving, occurring, or performed in a backward direction"

retro (pref.) "contrary to a usual or natural course or direction: retrograde."

  • "viral" is the adjective form of "virus". It's not a suffix, its just the way that the word "virus" is converted into an adjective.
    – divibisan
    Commented Mar 27, 2018 at 21:43
  • I can't write it in tree form, but using parentheses to group as in mathematics, it's (retro + virus) + al, with -al a common adjective-forming suffix (sometimes coming to us from Latin words with the suffix -alis), as in "causal", "usual", "bridal", "oral" (Latin "os" = "mouth", stem form "or-"), "arboreal", etc. Commented Mar 27, 2018 at 21:57

As also stated in the other answer I see at the moment of writing here, the word retro in Latin means a movement backwards or a backward position, both in time and place. A quote from the Gospel is "Vade retro Satana" (Back away, Devil!), spoken by Jesus in the desert to the Devil who wanted to tempt him.

Go back, Satan! An exhortation for Satan to be gone, often used in response to temptation. From a popular Medieval Catholic exorcismformula, based on a rebuke by Jesus to Peter in the Vulgate, Mark 8:33: vade retro me Satana |"step back from me, Satan!"|. The older phrase vade retro |"go back!"| can be found in Terence's Formio I, 4, 203. https://glosbe.com/la/en/vade%20retro%20Satana

  • Use citations in answers, if you please.
    – lbf
    Commented Mar 27, 2018 at 18:06

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