Prefixes – a few letters that change everything

A prefix is a word or syllable added at the beginning of another word that changes its meaning. Some negate the original meaning, some change the word to mean the opposite, others expand on the meaning.

Here are some examples:



a not amoral, asymmetric
anti opposite, against anti-inflammatory, antibiotic
auto self automobile, autobiography
bi two biweekly
co together cooperation, coexist
contra against contraindicate
de reverse, undo degrade, deactivate
dis opposite of disappear, disagree, disconnect
down reduce downgrade, downshift
dys negative dysfunction
ex out, previous ex-boss
extra greater extraordinary
fore before foresight
hemi half hemisphere
hetero different heterosexual
homo same homophobia
hyper more hyperactive, hypertension
hypo less hypoglycemia
il not illegal, illogical
im lack of, not imbalance, impossible
in not, without inactive, injustice, invisible
infra below infrared
inter between interactive
intra within intracellular
ir without irregular, irreversible
mal bad malodorous
mega large, superlative megastore, megaphone
micro small microscope
mid middle midterm, midseason
mis incorrect, wrong misunderstand, misplace
mono same monotone
non not nonfiction, nonsense
over too much overcook, overdone
pan all pan-African
para beside, beyond paranormal, paramilitary
post after postoperative
pre before preassembled, preschool
pro for, before proactive
re again reconsider, re-evaluate, rewrite
self acting by itself self-cleaning
semi half semi-retired
sub below subzero, sub-Saharan Africa, submarine
super above, more supermarket
trans across, change transatlantic
ultra beyond ultraviolet, ultramarathon
un not, opposite unhappy, unkind, unusual
xeno foreign xenophobia

© Andrea Paulsen