Origin – Cutting In And Out

Flies, bees, beetles, wasps, and other insects are segmented creatures – head, thorax, and abdomen. Where these parts join, there appears to the imaginative eye a ‘cutting in’ of the body.
Hence the branch of zoology dealing with insects is aptly named entomology, from Greek en-, in, plus tome, a cutting. The adjective is entomological.
(The word insect makes the same point – it is built on Latin in-, in, plus sectus, a form of the verb meaning to cut.)
The prefix ec-, from Greek ek-, means out. (The Latin prefix, you will recall, is ex-.) Combine ec- with tome to derive the words for surgical procedures in which parts are ‘cut out’ or removed: tonsil-lectomy (the tonsils), appendectomy (the appendix), mastectomy (the breast), hysterectomy (the uterus), prostatectomy (the prostate), etc.
Combine ec- with Greek kentron, centre (the Latin root, as we have discovered, is centrum), to derive eccentric – out of the centre, hence deviating from the normal in behavior, attitudes, etc., or unconventional odd, strange. The noun is eccentricity.
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