word-forming element, especially in scientific compounds, meaning "life, life and," or "biology, biology and," or "biological, of or pertaining to living organisms or their constituents," from Greek bios "one's life, course or way of living, lifetime" (as opposed to zoe "animal life, organic life"), from PIE root *gwei- "to live."
The correct usage is that in biography, but since c. 1800 in modern science it has been extended to mean "organic life," as zoo-, the better choice, is restricted in modern use to animal, as opposed to plant, life. Both are from the same PIE root. Compare biology.
updated on October 10, 2022