Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I'm looking for prefixes similar to extra- in the sense of 'outside of'. I'm attaching it to "mathematical" and in its context "extra-mathematical" or "extramathematical" can be misread as "very mathematical".

I'm specifically trying to avoid "nonmathematical" because I want to stress the connections with, rather than differences from, that field.

The term would be used to refer to fields of study aside from math, e.g. chemistry or engineering.


I'm tempted to add a [single-affix-requests] tag for this question... that would be wrong in so many ways.

share|improve this question
    
I think "fields related to math" or "fields other than math" would be the clearest way to state this. Or you could say something like interdisciplinary studies of math and science. –  JLG Jan 25 '13 at 17:36
    
@JLG: A single word or affix would be best for this purpose, since I want to use this as a label (though I will use words to that effect in describing it). But interdisciplinary is good, you should submit that as an answer. –  Charles Jan 25 '13 at 17:38
1  
What about defining your term? Use extramathematical and state what you mean by it the first time you do so. –  Jon Hanna Jan 25 '13 at 17:46
    
Perhaps you can give a sentence that would convey the meaning you want, I think that would make it easier to come up with something suitable. –  Fraser Orr Jan 25 '13 at 17:46
    
As I wrote above, I need a label. It will have a definition but I expect most will skim and miss it. –  Charles Jan 25 '13 at 18:01

6 Answers 6

It's not exactly a "neologism", since there are 10s of 1000s of prior instances on Google, but...
quasi-mathematical
...is the term native speakers would coin on the spot even if they'd never come across it before.

In such contexts, quasi- is a productive prefix meaning partially, akin to. It's similar to pseudo-, except that has more negative connotations of counterfeit, false.


You wouldn't normally refer to things like chemistry and engineering as quasi-mathematical, because these are disciplines in their own right, not examples of "mathematics manqué". But from some perspectives (not just mathematicians'!) mathematics doesn't only underpin all other disciplines - it actually is the whole universe. So I think OP would be quite justified in using quasi- for his particular context (maybe not so much if his starting point had been any other discipline!).

share|improve this answer

What about "para-"?

1 beside; adjacent to: parameter | parataxis | parathyroid.

• Medicine denoting a disordered function or faculty: paresthesia.

• distinct from, but analogous to: paramilitary | paraphrase | paratyphoid.

• beyond: paradox | paranormal | parapsychology.

• subsidiary; assisting: paramedic | paraprofessional.

I'm thinking in the "beyond" sense.

share|improve this answer
    
I had considered it (in fact before I posted here I Googled [para extra non prefix] in hopes of a quick answer), but I use "paramathematical" very differently: things 'alongside' math but outside of it, like discussing what things are appropriate for a journal article. Still, a better answer may not exist... –  Charles Jan 25 '13 at 17:37
2  
I believe para- attached to a science usually means "besides" as in "besides proper science", almost like pseudo-, so not something so respectable as chemistry in the original question. –  Cerberus Jan 25 '13 at 20:04
    
What @Cerberus said. I know there are neutral/positive examples in other spheres, but specifically in relation to "hard" sciences, para- is invariably "sneeringly negative". –  FumbleFingers Jan 25 '13 at 23:33
1  
@Cerberus and FumbleFingers, I am a professional scientist and I had never heard of paraphysics or parachemstry until I searched for them just now. It looks like only a handful of weirdos use the terms, but I agree that they have ruined them for other uses. –  ArgentoSapiens Jan 25 '13 at 23:57
    
@ArgentoSapiens: In this case, your ignorance is to your credit! (As in, you're not supposed to know of such silly pursuits.) –  Cerberus Jan 26 '13 at 5:40

> Supra

a prefix meaning “above, over” (supraorbital) or “beyond the limits of, outside of” (supramolecular; suprasegmental).

From which we get Supramathematical, suprachemical, and so on.

share|improve this answer

Might co-, semi- or demi- work for this purpose?

share|improve this answer
    
Comathematical doesn't quite seem to do it, but semimathematical might (as long as one doesn't mind aggravating language purists). –  Charles Jan 27 '13 at 5:39

When I read the first sentence of your question, I immediately thought of “super-”, as in “supernatural.”  But, upon reading the rest of your question, I suggest “meta-”.  Or maybe “ultra-”, as in “ultra-violet.”

share|improve this answer
    
Unfortunately metamathematics has acquired a technical meaning which would be distracting to my audience. Ultramathematical is not a choice I would have considered but it might work. Thanks! –  Charles Jan 27 '13 at 5:40

Mathematica is Greek, and the Greek equivalent of extra- is exo-, as in exoskeleton ("outside-skeleton"), exotic ("outside-ish"), exogenous ("outside-born"), exothermic ("outside-temperature-ish"), etc. The opposite is endo-. So exomathematic would be properly formed.

share|improve this answer
    
What I like best about this suggestion is that the term is almost entirely unused, a tabula rasa for my audience. –  Charles Jan 27 '13 at 5:47
    
@Charles: Your audience are tabulae rasae, and exomathematical is what you may inscribe onto them! –  Cerberus Jan 27 '13 at 7:06

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.