before vowels ophi-, word-forming element meaning "a snake, serpent," from Greek ophio-, combining form of ophis "serpent, a snake," probably from PIE *egwhi- (source also of Sanskrit ahi-, Avestan aži- "snake," and perhaps the first element of a Germanic word for "lizard," i.e. Old High German egi-dehsa). Hence ophiolatry "serpent-worship" (1862), and the 2c. sect of the Ophitæ, who revered the serpent as the symbol of divine wisdom.
before vowels crypt-, word-forming element meaning "secret" or "hidden, not evident or obvious," used in forming English words at least since 1760 (crypto-Calvinianism), from Latinized form of Greek kryptos "hidden, concealed, secret" (see crypt; the Greek combining form was krypho-).
In 19c. often of secret religious faith; from 1870s in scientific words; since c. 1945 typically of hidden political loyalties. Crypto-fascist is attested from 1937; crypto-communist from 1946. Hence, as an abstracted noun, crypto "person who conceals a political adherence" (1946).