Prefix: A Big List of 20 Common Prefixes and Their Meaning

Are you curious about the building blocks of words? Do you ever wonder how words are formed and what gives them meaning? Look no further than prefixes! Prefixes are a crucial component of the English language, adding layers of meaning and nuance to words that we use every day. In this article, we’ll explore the world of prefixes, from their basic definition to some common examples you’re sure to recognize.

Prefixes

A prefix is a group of letters that is added to the beginning of a word and changes the meaning of the word.

List of Prefixes

Below is a list of prefixes plus definitions and examples you should know.

1. Ex-

  • Definition: Former, older
  • Words: ex-president, ex-boyfriend, exterminate, ex-wife
  • Example sentence: I needed a lot of retail therapy to help me get over my ex-boyfriend.

2. Dis-

  • Definition: Not, opposite of
  • Words: discord, discomfort, disengage
  • Example sentence: Some patients don’t refer to the discomfort of angina as an ache; rather they describe it as sudden sharp pains.

3. Anti-

  • Definition: Against
  • Words: antidote, antisocial, antifreeze, antithesis
  • Example sentence: She was aware that, because of their circumscribed and antisocial existence, the question of godparents would probably pose yet another problem.

4. Pre-

  • Definition: Before
  • Words: preview, pretest, prevent, preplan
  • Example sentence: The news that no less than five new endings were shot due to poor reaction at the preview screenings hardly augers well.

5. Mis-

  • Definition: Wrong, wrongly
  • Words: misjudge, misinterpret, misguided, mismatch, misplace
  • Example sentence: He had misjudged the situation, and if he had added to his problems, it was his own fault.

6. Post-

  • Definition: After
  • Words: postgraduate, postdate, postnatal
  • Example sentence: For these students, this was manifested by a decision not to continue with physics at postgraduate level.

7. Auto-

  • Definition: Self
  • Words: automobile, autobus, automatic
  • Example sentence: I think that it comes down to the fact that people do feel very dependent on their automobile.

8. Re-

  • Definition: Again
  • Words: rewrite, reread, return, review
  • Example sentence: Take one of your recent essays and rewrite the introduction according to the pattern suggested.

9. Un-

  • Definition: Not
  • Words: uncover, unlock, unsafe, unemployment
  • Example sentence: Marco was in his room and wouldn’t unlock the door until Jamieson banged on it and ordered him to come out.

10. Ir-

  • Definition: Not
  • Words: irregular (irregular plural nouns or irregular verbs), irresponsible, irritate
  • Example sentence: We don’t want to squander that through lax cost control, irresponsible pay increases and things like that.

11. Mid-

  • Definition: Middle
  • Words: midterm, Midwest, midstream, midway, midnight
  • Example sentence: The midterm tests for background information on the U.S. system.

12. Over-

  • Definition: Too much
  • Words: overload, overdo, overact, overboard, overdose, overweight
  • Example sentence: Don’t overload your lecture with details that do not bear on the topic under discussion.
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13. Semi-

  • Definition: Half
  • Words: semicircle, semiprecious, semicolon, semifinal
  • Example sentence: I looked through the window, a large semicircle that extended almost to the ceiling.

14. Fore-

  • Definition: Before
  • Words: foreshadow, foresight, foreseeable, forecast, foreground
  • Example sentence: If you had had more foresight, you would have saved yourself a lot of trouble.

15. In-

  • Definition: Not
  • Words: invade, inedible, incapable
  • Example sentence: He seems incapable of walking past a music shop without going in and buying another CD.

16. Non-

  • Definition: Not, without
  • Words: nonsense, nonverbal, nonstick, nonspecific
  • Example sentence: It is a nonspecific test and must be interpreted in the context of the total clinical presentation.

17. Inter-

  • Definition: Between, among
  • Words: interstate, international, intermission, intermingle, interface
  • Example sentence: From the interstate highway which runs nearby, nothing about this bluff looks any different from thousands of others.

18. Sub-

  • Definition: Under
  • Words: submarine, subtext, substandard, substitute, subversive
  • Example sentence: The submarine had had time to submerge before the warship could approach.

19. Super-

  • Definition: Above
  • Words: supersonic, superstar, supernatural, superstore
  • Example sentence: Residents were accused of nimbyism when they tried to stop the new superstore development.

20. Trans-

  • Definition: Across
  • Words: transatlantic, transcend, transfer, transact, transport
  • Example sentence: We also want to see more transatlantic flights, particularly to regional airports.

Learn more about common suffixes in English.

Types of Prefixes

In English, there are two main types of prefixes: derivational prefixes and inflectional prefixes.

Derivational Prefixes

Derivational prefixes are added to the beginning of a word to create a new word with a different meaning. These prefixes can change the meaning of the word entirely or simply modify it in some way. Some common examples of derivational prefixes include:

  • Un- (meaning “not” or “opposite of”)
  • Re- (meaning “again” or “back”)
  • Dis- (meaning “not” or “opposite of”)
  • Pre- (meaning “before”)
  • Mis- (meaning “wrong” or “badly”)

Derivational prefixes can be used to create many new words in English, such as “unhappy,” “rethink,” “dislike,” “preheat,” and “misunderstand.”

Inflectional Prefixes

Inflectional prefixes, on the other hand, are added to the beginning of a word to modify its grammatical function. These prefixes do not change the meaning of the word itself, but rather indicate things like tense, number, or person. Some common examples of inflectional prefixes include:

  • Un- (used to indicate negation or reversal in some verbs, such as “undo” or “unbend”)
  • Re- (used to indicate repetition or restoration in some verbs, such as “rebuild” or “reheat”)
  • In- (used to indicate negation or lack of something in some adjectives, such as “inhuman” or “incomplete”)

Inflectional prefixes can be used to modify many different parts of speech in English, such as verbs, adjectives, and nouns.

Common English Prefixes

In English, prefixes are added to the beginning of a word to change its meaning. Understanding common prefixes can greatly assist in determining the meaning of new words. Here are some of the most common prefixes in English:

Un-

The prefix “un-” means “not” or “opposite of.” It is often used to create words that are the opposite of their original meaning. For example, “happy” becomes “unhappy” and “likely” becomes “unlikely.”

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Re-

The prefix “re-” means “again” or “back.” It is often used to indicate repetition or a return to a previous state. For example, “do” becomes “redo” and “connect” becomes “reconnect.”

In-

The prefix “in-” means “not” or “opposite of.” It is often used to create words that are the opposite of their original meaning. For example, “active” becomes “inactive” and “complete” becomes “incomplete.”

Dis-

The prefix “dis-” means “not” or “opposite of.” It is often used to create words that are the opposite of their original meaning. For example, “appear” becomes “disappear” and “honest” becomes “dishonest.”

Non-

The prefix “non-” means “not” or “opposite of.” It is often used to create words that are the opposite of their original meaning. For example, “fiction” becomes “nonfiction” and “violent” becomes “nonviolent.”

Knowing common prefixes can help you understand new words and expand your vocabulary.

Prefixes in Science

In science, prefixes are added to words to modify their meaning. These prefixes can indicate a variety of things, such as size, location, or time. Here are some common prefixes used in science:

Bio-

The prefix “bio-” refers to life or living organisms. This prefix is often used in biology and biochemistry to describe the study of living things. Some common words with the prefix “bio-” include “biome,” “biopsy,” and “biosphere.”

Geo-

The prefix “geo-” refers to the Earth or the study of the Earth. This prefix is often used in geology and geography to describe the study of the Earth’s physical features and processes. Some common words with the prefix “geo-” include “geography,” “geology,” and “geothermal.”

Astro-

The prefix “astro-” refers to space or the study of space. This prefix is often used in astronomy and astrophysics to describe the study of the universe and celestial objects. Some common words with the prefix “astro-” include “astronomy,” “astrology,” and “astronaut.”

Prefixes in Mathematics

In mathematics, prefixes are used to indicate the scale or size of a number. They are used to represent large or small numbers in a more concise and easy-to-read format. Here are some commonly used prefixes in mathematics:

Mono-

The prefix mono- means one. In mathematics, it is used to indicate a single unit of measurement. For example, monomial is a polynomial with one term.

Poly-

The prefix poly- means many. In mathematics, it is used to indicate multiple units of measurement. For example, a polygon is a shape with many sides.

Deca-

The prefix deca- means ten. In mathematics, it is used to indicate a multiple of ten. For example, a decagon is a polygon with ten sides.

Prefixes are also commonly used in the metric system to indicate multiples or submultiples of a unit of measurement. The table below shows some of the most commonly used metric prefixes:

Prefix Symbol Meaning
kilo- k thousand
hecto- h hundred
deka- da ten
deci- d tenth
centi- c hundredth
milli- m thousandth

Prefixes in Medicine

In medical terminology, prefixes are added to the beginning of a word to modify its meaning. Understanding prefixes is essential for healthcare professionals as it helps them to accurately describe a patient’s condition.

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Hypo-

The prefix hypo- means “under” or “below.” It is commonly used in medical terms to indicate a deficiency or a decreased level of a substance or function. For example, hypoglycemia is a medical condition where a person has low blood sugar levels. Other medical terms that use the prefix hypo- include hypothyroidism, hypotension, and hypocalcemia.

Hyper-

The prefix hyper- means “over” or “above.” It is commonly used in medical terms to indicate an excess or an increased level of a substance or function. For example, hyperglycemia is a medical condition where a person has high blood sugar levels. Other medical terms that use the prefix hyper- include hypertension, hyperthyroidism, and hypercalcemia.

Epi-

The prefix epi- means “on” or “upon.” It is commonly used in medical terms to indicate a location or a position. For example, the epidermis is the outermost layer of the skin. Other medical terms that use the prefix epi- include epidural, epigastric, and epiphyseal.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common prefixes used in medical terminology?

Medical terminology uses a variety of prefixes to describe different conditions and procedures. Some of the most common prefixes used in medical terminology include anti-, dys-, hyper-, hypo-, inter-, intra-, macro-, micro-, post-, and pre-.

What are some examples of prefixes from A to Z?

There are many prefixes used in the English language, and they can be found at the beginning of words to change their meaning. Some examples of prefixes from A to Z include:

  • A: ab-, ad-, anti-
  • B: bi-, bio-, by-
  • C: co-, com-, con-
  • D: de-, dis-, dys-
  • E: ex-, extra-
  • F: fore-, for-
  • G: geo-, glyco-
  • H: hemi-, hyper-
  • I: il-, im-, in-
  • J: juxta-
  • K: kilo-
  • L: levo-, lip-, litho-
  • M: macro-, mal-, micro-
  • N: neo-, non-, neuro-
  • O: ob-, oc-, omni-
  • P: para-, peri-, poly-
  • Q: quadri-, quasi-
  • R: re-, retro-
  • S: semi-, sub-, super-
  • T: tele-, trans-
  • U: ultra-, uni-
  • V: vice-
  • W: with-
  • X: xeno-
  • Y: yotta-
  • Z: zetta-

How do you pronounce prefixes correctly?

The pronunciation of prefixes can vary depending on the word they are attached to. In general, the stress is usually on the second syllable of the word. For example, the prefix “un-” is pronounced “uhn” when attached to a word like “unhappy.”

What are 10 common prefixes used in the English language?

There are many prefixes used in the English language, but some of the most common include:

  • un-
  • re-
  • pre-
  • post-
  • anti-
  • dis-
  • in-
  • mis-
  • over-
  • under-

What are the 20 most frequently used prefixes in English?

The 20 most frequently used prefixes in English include:

  • un-
  • in-
  • re-
  • pre-
  • post-
  • anti-
  • dis-
  • inter-
  • semi-
  • non-
  • mis-
  • sub-
  • super-
  • trans-
  • over-
  • under-
  • hyper-
  • hypo-
  • micro-
  • macro-

What are some common prefixes used in chemistry?

Chemistry uses a variety of prefixes to describe different molecules and compounds. Some of the most common prefixes used in chemistry include:

  • mono-
  • di-
  • tri-
  • tetra-
  • penta-
  • hexa-
  • hepta-
  • octa-
  • nona-
  • deca-

Last Updated on November 15, 2023

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