Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Usage notes concerning concatenation, spelling, and pronunciation
- When combined with a word or another affix which begins with a consonant, this prefix concatenates with -o- (as gynæco-).
- This prefix has so many variant forms because its etymon (γυναικ-) contains three spelling elements subject to different transcription conventions:
- The alpha-iota diphthong (αι) is traditionally transcribed as æ or ae — the Roman transcription. Variably, it is also reduced to e (especially in American English) or transcribed as ai, the latter being closer to the Greek (favoured in some academic circles).
- Letters kappa (κ) are traditionally transcribed as c, under Roman influence; however, some academics prefer k, which is closer to the Greek. The latter affects pronunciation, effecting k in place of s where κ precedes æ, e, i, œ, or y; in practice, this only affects the rare variant gynaekeum.
- Upsila (υ) are traditionally transcribed as y, owing to the Romans’ desire to distinguish its sound ([ʉ], later [y]) in their Grecogenous words from the sound of the native Ⅴ ([u]). Some, especially in academic circles, prefer to transcribe the upsilon as u, since phonologically o͝o is closer than ĭ to ῠ and o͞o is closer than ī to ῡ.
- Because the υ in γῠναικ- is short, the initial g is the Grecian gamma (γ), and αι is a diphthong, this prefix’s etymology suggests that the g be hard, the y pronounced as a short vowel, and the æ pronounced as a long vowel; i.e., probably as * gĭʹnēk—. However, whereas the g is indeed usually pronounced hard (as g, not j), contrary to the etymology, the y is usually pronounced long and the æ usually pronounced short.
- gynæcoid (entomology and anatomy) →
- gynæcoid pelvis (anatomy)
- gynæcology →
Terms ultimately deriving from γῠνή (gunḗ, “woman, female”) but not formed with this prefix