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For instance, if I were to describe someone as being *near-*carnivorous, I'm have the goal of depicting them as being a heavy meat eater that includes very few forms of non-meat based food in their diet as opposed to being one who exclusively consumes meat.

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You would have to use an adverb like largely or mostly — or near. –  Robusto Oct 23 '12 at 15:39

7 Answers 7

up vote 8 down vote accepted

I'm very much in favour of quasi- for this purpose, but near serves the purpose, as does mostly.

Quasi- used to show that something is almost, but not completely, the thing described http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/quasi?q=quasi

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Yes, but in some contexts I quite like the "suffix" XXX manqué for someone/something that doesn't quite make the grade as an XXX. –  FumbleFingers Oct 23 '12 at 16:41
    
Perhaps, but quasi is often used negatively in my experience. If the intent is to show that quasicarnivorous is not as good as carnivorous then this works. I think semi is more neutral but certainly does not indicate 'mostly'. –  fredsbend Apr 5 '13 at 7:45

I think para- comes closest, when used in the sense of resembling or similar, as in para-military, para-medic or para-legal.

Others you might consider in particular contexts are quasi- and crypto-.

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There are too many other senses of para- for this to be of much use. Also, the para in paralegal means subsidiary to, not "nearly" a lawyer. –  Robusto Oct 23 '12 at 15:43
    
@Robusto I disagree with your first point; the first time I heard the term paramedic, I understood what it must mean based on my understanding of paramilitary and so on. It was clear that the other meanings were inappropriate. I also contest your second point; paralegal may mean a person assisting a lawyer, but the para- in paralegal does not mean subsidiary to; it is using the meaning of para- as "near or alongside", because the paralegal is an auxilliary. para- does not have a meaning of "subsidiary to". –  itsbruce Oct 23 '12 at 15:52

While not a prefix, your instance appears to perfectly describe obligate carnivores.

Besides quasi (which I like), you can also consider the prefix cis- which is from Latin cis 'on this side of'.

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The prefix peri- may suit

enclosing, encircling, or around ⇒ pericardium, pericarp, perigon
near or adjacent ⇒ perihelion

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peri is more physical location than state of being. Peri is largely used in the medical field because it is a prefix to describe location. –  fredsbend Apr 5 '13 at 7:35

According to Wikipedia, English has borrowed presque-isle from the French, to mean a peninsula with an unusually narrow neck. However, this seems to be the sole use of this prefix in English - so far.

Carnivorous is essentially a non-gradable (because it classifies) adjective. To get round this fact to describe an animal eating say 98% meat, one could use the construction 'almost exclusively carnivorous'.

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"semi: a Latin prefix to a verb, noun, or adjective meaning 'half'".

Even though it means half, it is often used in context to mean "almost", especially in cases when it is applied to non-measurable concepts. Some examples are "semi-automatic firearm", "semi-parasitic creature", or "semi-arid climate".

I think that "pseudo-" could work in the context of "near carnivorous". Pseudo means "false" or "mock", so it would not work in all cases as "near". But "pseudo-carnivorous" for some reason sounds more natural to me than "semi-carnivorous".

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Why not pen-, as in penultimate or peninsula?

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I do not believe pen- to be a productive prefix in English. Penultimate and peninsula were borrowed in toto from Latin. –  MετάEd Jan 25 '13 at 3:36

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