'Hypo' vs 'Hyper': What's the Difference?

By Amy Gilmore, updated on July 14, 2023

Are you looking for an explanation of the difference between 'hypo' vs. 'hyper?' I can help!

Here is the short answer:

  • 'Hypo' and 'hyper' are terms often used in medicine.
  • 'Hypo' is a noun that means stimulus, a verb that means stimulate, and a prefix defined as under, down, or below.
  • 'Hyper' is an adjective that means extremely excited and a prefix that means above, beyond, or excessive.

Both terms have several meanings and uses. So, there is much more to learn. To better understand how to use these two terms accurately, read this entire post. It contains definitions, examples, and tips to help you comprehensively understand both terms.

What is the Difference Between 'Hypo' vs. 'Hyper'

People often confuse the meanings of 'hypo' and 'hyper' because they look and sound alike, and both terms are associated with medical treatments or diagnoses.

Although both terms can be standalone words, they are often used as prefixes, and when you add them to the beginning of a word, they change the meaning, for example:

  • Hypoactive means underperforming.
  • Hyperactive means overstimulated or above average.

Furthermore, 'hypo' can be a verb meaning to stimulate. It can also be a noun that means stimulus.

'Hyper,' on the other hand, can be an adjective that describes a noun as overactive, higher than average, or excessive.

So, an easy way to remember the difference between these two is that 'hypo' is less than average, while 'hyper' is above average.

When to Use 'Hypo' vs. 'Hyper'

Now that you know the difference between these terms, let's look at how to use 'hypo' vs. 'hyper.'

  • Use 'hypo' to describe a stimulus to something like the economy.

For example, you could say:

Analysts predict that the latest economic hypo will temporarily delay a depression but that the economy is still in a recession. 

  • Use 'hyper' to describe something that is above average or someone that has above average.

For example, you might hear someone say:

The hyper child was all over the place while the other students sat quietly doing their work. 

  • Use 'hypo' as a prefix to say something is under the skin.

For example, I might say:

If you have diabetes, you must use hypodermic needles to inject insulin each time you eat a meal containing sugar or carbohydrates. 

  • Use 'hyper' as a prefix to describe something that functions at a higher-than-average rate, speed, or position.

For example, you might say:

Hypercritical parents are constantly pointing out the faults of their children, which often causes them to lack self-confidence. 

Definition of 'Hypo': What Does 'Hypo' Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 'hypo' is a noun defined as:

  • A solution or mixture of sodium thiosulfate

It can also mean:

  • A stimulus
  • Excessive concern over one's health, as in hypochondria

It can also be a verb that means:

  • To stimulate
  • To boost up

'Hypo' can also be a prefix that means:

  • Down, under, beneath, or in a state that is below average
  • Less than average
  • Lower than normal
  • In a reduced state of oxidation

'Hypo' Terms and Phrases

  • Hypodermic
  • Hypochondria
  • Hypocenter
  • Hypocentric
  • Hypotensive
  • Hypobaric

Definition of 'Hyper': What Does 'Hyper' Mean?

The same defines 'hyper' as an adjective that means:

  • High-strung or excitable
  • Extremely active
  • More active than normal

It can also be a prefix that means:

  • Above average
  • Super, excessive, above, or beyond
  • Existing in more than three dimensions of space
  • Nonsequentially bridging thoughts or concepts
  • Bridging random points within a text

'Hyper' Terms and Phrases

  • Hyperactive
  • Hyperintelligence
  • Hyperbaric
  • Hyperspace
  • Hyperbole
  • Hypereimmune
  • Hypermarket
  • Hypersexual
  • Hypertrophia

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Hypo' vs. 'Hyper'

Now, let's look at the pronunciation of these words because whether you are learning English as a second language or trying to improve your writing skills learning how to pronounce a word will help you remember the term and how to spell it.

So, here is a quick pronunciation guide you can reference.

  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'hypo':


  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'hyper':


Sample Sentences Using 'Hypo' vs. 'Hyper'

Before you go, read these sample sentences using 'hypo' vs. 'hyper' to ensure you correctly use each term.


  • The doctors used a hypodermic needle to inject the medicine under the patient's skin.
  • Some economists suggest that a hypo could answer our economic issues.
  • Will you hypo the economy, or will you allow it to fall into a deep depression that could affect the entire world?
  • If you have sensitive skin, you should look for hypoallergenic products because they are less likely to cause irritation.
  • The hypochondriac was constantly at the hospital. Although, he is actually in the pink of health.


  • Sometimes, physicians use hyperbaric chambers to increase the oxygen level in a patient's blood.
  • It is challenging for hyper children to sit in class the entire day.
  • Have you been to the new hypermarket? It has furniture, food, clothing, automotive care, electronics, and other products you buy regularly.
  • She is hypersensitive about everything, but I guess that is to be expected after what she went through.
  • She has always been hyperactive, but she didn't start having issues sleeping until she was an adult.

Final Review of the Difference Between 'Hypo' vs. 'Hyper'

Finally, let's do a quick recap of what you learned about 'hypo' vs. 'hyper': 

  • 'Hypo' is a noun that means stimulus, a verb that means to stimulate, and a prefix that means below or under. 
  • 'Hyper' is an adverb defined as high-energy or excited and a prefix that means above, beyond, or in excess.

These terms can stump writers because when used as a noun prefix, 'hypo' has a similar meaning to 'hyper.' So, if you get mixed up in the future, come back for a quick review of this lesson.

You can also learn about other English words that often stump writers in the confusing words section here. Each contains definitions, examples, tips, and other vital information to help you learn to use words correctly.

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Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

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