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a combining form meaning “being,” used in the formation of compound words:
Also, especially before a vowel, ont-.
Origin of onto-
< New Latin < Greek ont- (stem of ón, neuter present participle of eînai to be) + -o- -o- Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for onto-


combining form
existence or being: ontogeny, ontology
Word Origin
from Late Greek, from ōn (stem ont-) being, present participle of einai to be
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for onto-

word-forming element meaning "a being, individual; being, existence," from Greek onto-, from stem of on (genitive ontos) "being," neuter present participle of einai "to be" (see essence).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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onto- in Medicine

onto- or ont-
Organism; being: ontogeny.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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