The root “sphingo-” comes from the Greek word sphingein which means to to hold fast. There are 12 different entries containing this root.

  • glycosphingolipid- any of various lipids (such as a cerebroside or a ganglioside)
  • sphingometer- an instrument for measuring the bending of a strut (as by deflection of beams of light)
  • sphingomyelin- any of a group of crystalline phospholipids that are obtained especially from nerve tissue and that on hydrolysis yield a fatty acid
  • sphingosine- an unsaturated amino obtained by hydrolysis of various sphingomyelins, cerebrosides, and gangliosides
  • Sphinx- this word may not seem to contain the root, however, the Sphinx in Greek mythology would ask a riddle to any travelers and if they could not answer correctly, she would bind them with a curse.


Many words with the root “sphingo-” are related to lipids in some way. Going into a bit of chemistry, lipids are long chains of carbon and hydrogen atoms which are bound together.