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Prefixes

A prefix is placed at the beginning of a word to modify or change its meaning. This is a
list of the most common prefixes in English, together with their basic meaning and some
examples. You can find more detail or precision for each prefix in any good dictionary.
The origins of words are extremely complicated. You should use this list as a guide only,
to help you understand possible meanings. But be very careful, because often what
appears to be a prefix is not a prefix at all. Note also that this list does not include
elements like "auto-" or " bio-", because these are "combining forms", not prefixes.
Prefix
aalso ana-

Examples
atheist, anaemic
aside, aback
a-hunting, aglow

a-

anew
abashed
abdicate, abstract
advance, adulterate, adjunct, ascend,
affiliate, affirm, aggravate, alleviate,
annotate, apprehend, arrive, assemble,
attend
antecedent, ante-room
anti-aircraft, antibiotic, anticlimax,
Antarctic
bespatter, beset
bewitch, bemuse
bejewelled
befog

abad-

anteanti-

Meaning
not, without
to, towards
in the process of, in a
particular state
of
completely
also absaway, from
also a-, ac-, af-, movement to, change
ag- al-, an-, ap-, into, addition or
at- as-, atincrease

also ant-

be-

com- also co-, col-,


con-, corcontracounterde-

dia-

also di-

before, preceding
opposing, against, the
opposite
all over, all around
completely
having, covered with
affect with (added to
nouns)
cause to be (added to
adjectives)
with, jointly,
completely
against, opposite
opposition, opposite
direction
down, away
completely
removal, reversal
through, across

becalm
combat, codriver, collude, confide, corrode
contraceptive
counter-attack, counteract
descend, despair, depend, deduct
denude, denigrate
de-ice, decamp
diagonal

disen-

ex-

extrahemihyperhypoininfrainterintranonoboutover-

peripostprepro-

re-

also di-

negation, removal,
disadvantage, dismount, disbud, disbar
expulsion
also emput into or on
engulf, enmesh
bring into the condition enlighten, embitter
of
intensification
entangle, enrage
also e-, efout
exit, exclude, expand
upward
exalt, extol
completely
excruciate, exasperate
previous
ex-wife
outside, beyond
extracurricular
half
hemisphere
beyond, more than,
hypersonic, hyperactive
more than normal
under
hypodermic, hypothermia
also il-, imnot, without
infertile, inappropriate, impossible
also il-, im-, ir- in, into, towards, inside influence, influx, imbibe
below
infrared, infrastructure
between, among
interact, interchange
inside, within
intramural, intravenous
absence, negation
non-smoker, non-alcoholic
also oc-, of-, blocking, against,
obstruct, occult, offend, oppose
opconcealing
surpassing, exceeding outperform
external, away from
outbuilding, outboard
excessively, completely overconfident, overburdened, overjoyed
upper, outer, over,
overcoat, overcast
above
round, about
perimeter
after in time or order postpone
before in time, place, pre-adolescent, prelude, precondition
order or importance
favouring, in support of pro-African
acting for
proconsul
motion forwards or
propulsion
away
before in time, place or prologue
order
again
repaint, reappraise, reawake

semihalf, partly
sub- also suc-, suf-, at a lower position
sug-, sup-, sur-, lower in rank
susnearly, approximately
syn-

also sym-

transultraun-

under-

in union, acting
together
across, beyond
into a different state
beyond
extreme
not
reversal or cancellation
of action or state
beneath, below
lower in rank
not enough

semicircle, semi-conscious
submarine, subsoil
sub-lieutenant
sub-tropical
synchronize, symmetry
transnational, transatlantic
translate
ultraviolet, ultrasonic
ultramicroscopic
unacceptable, unreal, unhappy, unmanned
unplug, unmask
underarm, undercarriage
undersecretary
underdeveloped

A prefix goes at the beginning of a word.


A suffix goes at the end of a word.

A prefix is a letter or a group of letters attached to the beginning of a word that partly
indicates its meaning. For example, the word prefix itself begins with a prefix--pre-,
which generally means "before."
Understanding the meanings of the common prefixes can help us deduce the meanings of
new words that we encounter. But be careful: some prefixes (such as in-) have more than
one meaning (in this example, "not" and "into").
The table below defines and illustrates 35 common prefixes.
Common Prefixes
Prefix
a-, ananteantiautocircumcocom-, concontradedis-

Meaning
without
before
against
self
around
with
with
against
off, away from
not

Example
amoral
antecedent
anticlimax
autopilot
circumvent
copilot
companion, contact
contradict
devalue
disappear

enexextraheterohomohyperil-, im-, in-,


irininterintramacromicromonononomnipostpre-, prosubsyntranstriununi-

put into
out of, former
beyond, more
than
different
same
over, more

enclose
extract, ex-president
extracurricular

heterosexual
homonym
hyperactive
illegal, immoral, inconsiderate,
not, without
irresponsible
into
insert
between
intersect
between
intravenous
large
macroeconomics
small
microscope
one
monocle
not, without
nonentity
all, every
omniscient
after
postmortem
before, forward precede, project
under
submarine
same time
synchronize
across
transmit
three
tricycle
not
unfinished
one
unicorn