Hypo vs. Hyper – How to Use Each Correctly

enhancedwriting/ August 11, 2017/ Uncategorized

hypo versus hyper

What’s the Difference Between Hypo and Hyper?

Hypo and hyper both have Greek origins, and often appear as prefixes as well as independent words. However, they have opposite meanings.

Hypo relates to the meaning of under.

  • The doctor grabbed her hypodermic needle.

relates to the meaning of over.

  • The children were hyperactive after eating too much sugar.

Now, let’s go over a few ways to use these prefixes and words correctly.

Using Hypo in a Sentence

When to use hypo: Hypo most commonly acts as a prefix that means under or below normal. It can also act as either a noun or verb meaning injection or stimulus or boost.

For example,

  • Quick! I need a hypo for this patient! Without the injection he’ll go into shock. (noun)
  • Hygiene is of the utmost importance when using hypodermic syringes. (prefix)

Hypo is common within the field of medicine. Some other words with the prefix hypo include hypoglycemia, hypothyroidism, and hypoallergenic. Another lesser used meaning is a fixer used in photograph developing.

Using Hyper in a Sentence

When to use hyper: Hyper often appears as a prefix meaning over or above normal, especially when implying excess. It can also stand alone as an adjective that means overexcited.

For example,

  • Children who are too hyper in class sometimes receive special permission to stand at their desks rather than sit. (adjective)
  • He hyperextended his knee while playing soccer. (prefix)

Some common words that start with hyper include hypersensitive, hyperventilate, and hyperbolic. These all include the meaning of excess.

A related word is the noun or verb hype. As a noun, hype refers to lots of publicity. As a verb, it means to excite. From this noun comes another noun, hyper. This means a person who hypes.

  • The marketing team used social media to hype the rapper’s new song.

Yet another related expression is hyped up. Hyped up is an adjective that describes someone who is very excited.

  • The child was all hyped up for Christmas.

This expression is informal, so it does not appear in academic texts.

Remembering Hypo vs. Hyper

There are two easy ways to remember which word to use and when.

First, hypo ends with the long o sound, just like the word below. Both hypo and below relate to under.

Second, hyper contains the letter e, just like the word excessive. If you are hyperactive, you are excessively active. Both hyper and excessive relate to above or over.

Outside Examples

  • Hypo-allergenic terriers Johnny, Candy and Rodney were the first to take the stage. –New York Post (Although this newspaper hyphenated the word hypoallergenic, this is not necessary.)
  • She sees a lot of patients who are hyperglycemic or hypoglycemic, she says. “The hyper is in people who don’t exercise and a have a more processed diet. I tend to see the hypo in those who are more nutrition-conscious but aren’t eating enough, especially not enough fat,” she says. –Denver Post
  • In the current hyper-partisan atmosphere, if a black candidate can appeal to Republican voters, he or she can capture the same coalition that white Republicans use to win elections. –The Washington Post
  • The combination of Amazon and Whole Foods, which has 10 Houston-area stores, will likely give the hyper-competitive supermarket industry far greater online potential. The grocery sector has remained largely tied to brick-and-mortar stores as other parts of the retail industry succumb to e-commerce pressure. –Houston Chronicle

Quiz: Hyper vs. Hypo

Instructions: Fill in the blanks with the correct word or prefix, either hyper or hypo, in the correct form.

  • Drug users who share _______dermic needles can transmit disease.
  • She cries all the time for really insignificant reasons because she is so __________sensitive.
  • Calm down before you start to ___________ventilate!
  • She has bad allergies so she bought a ________allergenic dog.
  • Some doctors claim that many children who have an OCD diagnosis are actually just _____________.

See answers below.

Article Summary

Should I use hypo or hyper? These words sound similar, but they have opposite meanings.

  • Hypo means under.
  • Hyper means over.

Understanding the origins and uses of each word can help you keep hypo and hyper straight.


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