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Prefixes and suffixes were originally words themselves but they are now groups of letters added to words or to roots to create new words. Prefixes are groups of letters placed before words or roots. Prefixes modify or extend the meanings of words and roots. Following is a list of commonly used prefixes and sample vocabulary.



  • a-, ac-, ad-, af-, ag-, al-, an-, ap-, as-, at- to, toward, near, in addition to
    • aside(adverb): to or toward the side
      • a + side
    • accompany(verb): to go with someone as a companion
      • ac + com + pan + y
    • adjust(verb): to correct, to move closer to a correct position
    • affix(verb): to attach to something, to fasten
      • af + fix
    • aggression(noun): hostile behavior towards someone or something
    • allocate(verb): to distribute to specific people or for specific purposes
    • annihilate(verb): to destroy
      • an + nihil + ate
    • associate(verb): to join with
    • attend(verb): to look after, to go to
  • a-, an-not, without
    • apolitical(adjective): without interest in politics
      • a + polit + ic + al
    • anemia(noun): the condition (disease) of not having enough red blood cells
      • an + em + ia
  • ab-, abs- away from, off
    • abrupt(adjective): unexpected change
    • absolve(verb): to be set free from one's actions or obligations
  • ante- before
    • anterior (adjective): before or near the front
      • ante + rior



  • against
    • antipathy (noun): dislike, opposite feeling
  • auto- self
    • automotive (adjective): related to self-propelled machines


  • bi- two
    • biped (noun): a two-footed animal
    • biennial (adjective): happening every two years bi + enni + al


  • cat-, cata-, cath- down, with
    • category (noun): a class or set to which a thing belongs
    • catalogue(noun): a book or pamphlet that lists and describes
      • cata + log + ue
    • catheter (noun): a medical device used to transfer fluids cath +eter
  • circum- around
    • circumvent (verb): to manage to get around a situation
  • co-, cog-, col-, com-, con-, cor together, with
    • cohesiveness(noun): the ability to stick together
    • cognate(adjective): related, similar in nature
    • collaborate(verb): to work together
    • commitment(noun): to entrust, to put into a place
    • convenient(adjective): handy, nearby
    • correct(verb): to set right, to be right
      • cor + rect
  • contra- against, opposite
    • contradict (verb) to state the opposite


  • de- to do the opposite, to take away from
    • decrease (verb): to grow smaller, to become less
      • de + cre + ase
  • di-, dif-, dis- apart, separate, two, opposite, not
    • divide (verb): to separate into two or more parts
      • di + vide
    • differ(verb): to be unlike
  • dis- not, opposite of, exclude
    • distrust (verb): to have no confidence or trust
      • dis + trust


  • e-, ex- out, out of, from
    • emit (verb) to send out
    • expel (verb): to force out ex + pel
  • en-, em- put into
    • enamor (verb): to cause to love, to "put" someone "into" love
    • empower (verb): to give power, to put into power em + pow + er
  • epi-, upon, beside, over
    • epilogue (noun): the concluding section of a play or literary work
  • extra- beyond
    • extraordinary (adjective): going beyond normal
      • extra + ordin + ary


  • il-, im-, in-, ir, not, in
    • illegible (adjective): cannot be read
    • imposter(noun): someone who poses as someone else
    • inaction(noun): lack of motion, idle
    • irresolute(adjective): uncertain about hot to act, undecided, not having a solution
  • in-, im-, il- in, into
    • instead (adverb): in place of, an alternative
      • in + stead
    • import(verb): to bring into a country from another country
  • inter- between, among
    • interject (verb): to throw something (usually a comment) between other things
  • intro- into
    • introspection (noun): to look into one's own thoughts and feelings


  • mal- bad
    • malfunction (noun): when something does not work properly
      • mal + funct + ion
  • mis- wrong
    • misconduct (noun): wrong doing, bad behavior
  • mono- one
    • monologue (noun): a dramatic performance or speech given by one actor
  • multi- many
    • multiply (verb): to increase in number


  • non- not, no
    • nonsense (noun): something that has no meaning or makes no sense


  • ob-, oc-, of-, op- toward, against, in the way
    • obtain (verb): to gain or get, to get a hold of
    • occur(verb): to happen, to come to mind
    • offer(verb): to attempt to give, to propose, to try to hand out
    • oppose(verb): to be against, to stand in the way of something
  • over- excessive, above
    • overwork (verb): to have too much work
      • over + work


  • para- beside
    • paradox (noun): a statement that seems true and contradictory at the same time
  • per- through
    • persecute (verb): to go after, to pursue
  • post- after
    • postpone (verb): to put off to a later time, to delay
  • pre- before
    • precede (verb): to go before, to come in front of
  • pro- for, foward
    • propel (verb): to push forward


  • re- back, again
    • readmit (verb): to allow in again
  • retro- backward
    • retrospect (noun) to look back at past events


  • se- apart, move away from
    • secede (verb): to withdraw from an organization
  • semi- half
    • semiannual (adjective): occurring twice a year
  • sub-, suc-, suf-, sup-, sur-, sus under, beneath, near, from below, secretly, above, up
    • submarine (adjective): underwater
      • sub + mar + ine
    • succeed(verb): to do well, to come after
    • suffice(verb): to be enough
    • support(verb): to hold up, too keep up
    • survive(verb): to live, to live through something, to exist
    • sustain(verb): to keep up, to hold up,
  • super- over, above
    • superimpose (verb): to place something on top of something else
  • syn-, sym- together, at the same time
    • synchronous (adjective): happening at the same time
    • sympathy(noun): sharing another person's feelings, compassion


  • trans- across, beyond, change
    • transform (verb): to change shape
  • tri- three
    • tripod (noun): a three-legged stand


  • un- not, against, opposite
    • unceasing (adjective): never ending, continuous
  • uni- one
    • uniform (adjective): having the same form or consistency

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