English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

There are prefixes of time and order (pre-, post-), of location (sub-, super-), for expressing the reversing of an action (de-, dis-), and go on.

English words may take prefixes from one or two of those groups. Words of the latter types are, for example, unpremeditated or antidisestablishment.

Is there a name for words, like unpremeditated or antidisestablishment, having two prefixes incorporated?

share|improve this question
The general term is "compound words". I don't believe there is a special term for compound words that have exactly two prefixes. – SevenSidedDie Sep 7 '12 at 18:44
English prefixes are derivative and can be used in conjunction. the root of unpremeditated is premeditated not meditated. therefore technically it only has one prefix. – David McGowan Sep 7 '12 at 18:49
Not an answer, but interesting: a bahuvrihi is (in linguistics) “A type of nominal compound in which the first part modifies the second and neither part can be used alone while retaining the intended meaning. Examples include redcoat, bluestocking and lowlife” – jwpat7 Sep 7 '12 at 18:54
@David, antidisestablishment has two privatives on its front, and might be termed (ambiguously and obscurely) bi-privative. – jwpat7 Sep 7 '12 at 19:01
I don't think there is a specific word to describe such words. At this point I think that means we'd be making up words for the concept, and so this is non-constructive. – Mitch Sep 13 '12 at 14:43

No, there is no specific term for this kind of word.

share|improve this answer

Technically, these are slang terms. If you have to put more than one prefix on a word, then you don't know the appropriate term for what you're trying to describe.

For example, antidisestablishment means "against the removal of establishment", disestablishment meaning the removal of establishment, anti a prefix meaning to be against something; you could simply say pro-establishment. Unpremeditated means "not planned ahead of time", premeditated meaning with forethought and/or planning, and un a prefix used to refer to an opposing state or nature (such as unfair, or uncaring); so you could simply say accidental or spontaneously.

There isn't really a specific term for a dual prefix because there is no need for a dual prefix, mainly because a dual prefix will almost always be a double-negative, or at the very least, simply describe another, less complicated word.

I sincerely hope this helps.

share|improve this answer
Antidisestablishmentarian is not a slang term: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antidisestablishmentarianism Nor is nonagnostic or many other strange assemblages. – Charles Sep 14 '12 at 5:02
Nor is antepenultimate, disinclined, reprehensible. – Peter Shor Sep 16 '12 at 0:10
Answer is incorrect in describing these words as slang, and is also incorrect / off-topic in his comments regarding "there is no need for a dual prefix". – Marc Cenedella Sep 19 '12 at 19:33

Your Answer


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.