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Hyper vs. Hypo

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  Angbeen Chaudhary  —  Grammar Tips

English has a lot of confusing words that mix up writers from time to time. Many of these words sound the same or are spelled the same or their definitions are so similar that it’s hard to tell them apart.

Thankfully, this isn’t the case with the two prefixes hypo vs. hyper. While they do have similar sounds, both starting with “hyp,” they have the exact opposite meanings. Since their meanings are so different, it’s that much more important that we be careful not to mix them up in our writing.


The word hyper originated from Greek huper ‘over, beyond’. The word hypo originated from from Greek hupo ‘under’.

Hyper as adjective:

The word hyper is used as an adjective which means hyperactive or unusually energetic.

Eating sugar makes you hyper.

Hyper as prefix:

As a prefix, hyper means something that is over, beyond or above.

The car was moving at a hypersonic speed.

Hyper also accompanies many medical conditions, hypertension, hyperthyroidism, hyperesthesia, hyperacidity, etc.

Hypo as prefix:

Hypo is used as a prefix in English language where it means under.

His hypodermic skin is affected with the virus.

The meaning of hypo, as well as hyper, is relevant in many cases to medical conditions. For example, hypochondria, hypothyroidism, hypoacidity, hypocalemia, hypothermia, etc. All of these have to do with having less than or under the normal or recommended amount of something.


Health experts in the field of gynaecology have expressed concern over the increasing cases of hypertension among women during pregnancy. (The Times of India)

The county engineer is telling it like it is: Hyper-development bodes ill for traffic (Palm Beach Post)

“The idea of 65daysofstatic being held up in any way as evidence that this hyper-Dickensian, **** nightmare of a Tory government is apparently supporting the arts, when in actual fact they are destroying any kind of infrastructure for future creativity at the grassroots level and plunging the most vulnerable parts of society into further misery, leaves a bad taste in our mouths.” (The Independent)

Dr. Garber, one of the authors who updated the clinical-practice guidelines for hypothyroidism last year, says while there have been some intriguing studies looking at different therapies, more research is needed. (The Wall Street Journal)

The 35-year-old from Middlesbrough was rushed to hospital with hypothermia after a member of the public spotted him struggling in the inflatable kayak, which he bought from a discount supermarket. (The Mirror)

Hyper or hypo:

Although these words have similar sounds, they are nearly opposite meanings. A careful writer always observers the distinction between these two prefixes. The prefix hypo means below normal, under. The prefix hyper means above, beyond, excessive. Both come from Greek words and are widely used in the medical field. Hypo means below normal. Hypo and below both have the letter “O” in them. Hyper means excessive or extremely. Hyper, excessive, and extremely all have the letter “E” in them.




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