Tagged Questions

A prefix is an affix which is placed before the stem of a word

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

18
votes
3answers
8k views

How does the “be-” prefix change the words to which it is applied? How did it come about?

What does the be- prefix change when applied to adjectives and verbs? There are many such words that seemed to be coined of this process, for example: behold, beget, befallen, beridden, ...
18
votes
3answers
3k views

Is there a general rule for the prefixation of “un-” and “de-” to words?

Given the different questions we have seen about the prefixes "de-" and "un-", I have grown curious if there is a overarching rule for terms that need undoing. “Unselect” or “Deselect”? “Unregister” ...
57
votes
10answers
49k views

“Unregister” vs “Deregister”

The concept of "undoing a registration" is widely used in my line of work. While most dictionaries define unregister as the proper verb for it, several widely used and highly considered sources also ...
7
votes
5answers
960 views

Using the “ex” prefix on a multiple word subject

What is the proper way to use the "ex" prefix to more than one word? Examples: He is an ex-school bus driver. My ex baseball coach taught me. I am an ex-Fish and Game Warden. ...
2
votes
3answers
2k views

Monetary amounts: 'thousands' prefix has opposite capitalisation to SI

One thing I noticed recently when looking through some reports is that thousands are often abbreviated, in a similar way to scientific measurements are abbreviated. E.g. $1,000,000 becomes $1m and ...
-5
votes
2answers
479 views

Why is “insatiable” pronounced as if it was “unsatiable”? [closed]

Why is insatiable pronounced as if it was unsatiable?
7
votes
4answers
1k views

If “hexa-” is a prefix representing six

Why does the word "hexadecimal" have the prefix "hexa-" if it has a base of 16, not 6?
50
votes
6answers
5k views

What we've gelost — why doesn't English use the prefix “ge-”?

The Germanic languages that I'm familiar with all use a prefix similar to ge- on past participles: German: Ich habe mir den Fuß gebrochen. Dutch: Ik heb mijn voet gebroken. But English ...
3
votes
3answers
1k views

Prefix “a” in “amaze”

Usually the prefix "a" means "not" or "without", for example: atheist, anarchy. But, in "amaze" it's not the case, since the word maze means "confusing" or "labyrinth" and "amaze" means "surprise". Is ...
13
votes
4answers
9k views

“pseudo-”, “quasi-” “semi-” and

I was wondering about the meaning of "pseudo-", "quasi-" "semi-" and possibly other related prefixes, in general cases. Particularly, in engineering and science, there are quite a few terms named ...
16
votes
7answers
20k views

“Biweekly”, “bimonthly”, “biannual”, and “bicentennial”

What do lengths of time with the "bi" prefix mean"? I have understood bicentennial as once every two hundred years, but biannual as meaning twice a year. Do biweekly and bimonthly mean twice a week or ...
31
votes
4answers
39k views

“Unselect” or “Deselect”?

If I want the user to revert their operation of selecting an item, should I say: "Unselect the option" or "Deselect the option"?
6
votes
2answers
3k views

'Irrealistic' or 'unrealistic'?

I basically learnt that words that start with a 'm' or 'p' get 'im' as a negative prefix, whilst words starting with 'r' get 'ir' in such a case (irreverent, irrelevant). However, I stumbled upon ...
6
votes
5answers
520 views

Why isn't the word “undiscovered” a double negative?

Why do we use the word undiscovered? As far as I know, un– and dis– have the same negative meaning; why don't we just say "covered"?
4
votes
2answers
654 views

Biweekly, bimonthly, semi-confused [closed]

There seems to be a fair amount of confusion surrounding the meaning of the prefix bi when used with units of time measurement. Biweekly, according to dictionary.com, can mean either "occurring twice ...
7
votes
4answers
8k views

Origins of negative prefixes like in-, un-, il-, ir-, dis-, a-

I've read here about origins of in- and un- negative prefixes. Are there any known origins of other negative prefixes such as il-, ir-, dis-, a-?
16
votes
1answer
8k views

Why “unequal” but “inequality”?

The opposite of "equal" is "unequal", yet there is no word "unequality". Why do we use "inequality" instead?
17
votes
4answers
3k views

Isn't the word “uninstall” wrong?

I've never understood this. Why is the proper usage "uninstall"? You can't actually "unin" something at all and this isn't that case with most (all?) other use cases. Examples: You make someone ...
8
votes
4answers
1k views

Pronunciation of en- prefix as ahn-

Recently, I pronounced the word enqueue as ahn-queue. The person I was talking to said he would have pronounced it with a more normal en sound (like in Ben or den). I'm not sure why I thought that ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the history of adding the a- prefix to form words?

I have always found the a- prefix to words (as in anew, ajar, aside, awake, afoot, a-hunting, etc.) fascinating. The NOAD says on this topic: a- 2. prefix •to; toward : aside | ashore. ...
18
votes
3answers
8k views

What is the opposite of “meta”?

A while back I was talking about it with friends. Another question indicates a few meanings of the "meta-" prefix. Considering that "meta" means, in simple words, "about itself" (like how metadata is ...
8
votes
4answers
1k views

What is it called when you add 'im' to 'possible'?

I took the ESL certification test and I was wondering: what is it called when you add 'im' to 'possible'?
6
votes
3answers
3k views

adding a prefix “re” to a word, with or without a hyphen?

In science we often invent words, but that doesn't mean we know how to spell them. Most of the time words are invented by adding prefixes. In that case should there be a hyphen or not? Specifically, I ...
5
votes
2answers
8k views

Use of hypens with “auto”: autopopulate, auto-populate, or auto populate?

I've done a fair amount of research (like here), but I can't find any examples of hyphen rules with "auto". Microsoft Word doesn't take "autopopulate", but will accept either auto-populate or auto ...
4
votes
2answers
7k views

Meaning of “pro” before a noun

First, is "pro" an abbreviated form of "professional"? If yes, does "Pro American" mean "Professional American"?
1
vote
4answers
3k views

Is “incomplex” a legitimate word?

I want to create a poster titled "An Incomplex Introduction to Complexity-based Cryptography." As you see, it contrasts the words incomplex and complexity. (Words like simple or easy do not provide ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

Any other words that use “dis-” as an amplifying prefix?

I remember hearing once about the etymology of disgruntled, probably based around a joke about how people can not be gruntled. The explanation given was that there was never a word gruntled, rather ...
3
votes
3answers
1k views

Where did prefix exceptions originate?

Consider the following words: inflammable invaluable Each of these has the unusual property that its meaning is identical to its counterpart lacking the prefix. In almost all other cases, the ...
14
votes
11answers
21k views

What is a good replacement for “ununderstandable”?

I want to tell a colleague of mine I'm doing something that will prevent her from getting "ununderstandable" errors. I have: ...so that you will not get unnecessary, [ununderstandable] errors. ...
7
votes
4answers
4k views

“Undistinguishable” vs. “indistinguishable”

Is there a difference between these two words? To me, it seems that undistinguishable is more where you can't tell what it is, and indistinguishable seems to be where they're the same. It seems a lot ...
7
votes
3answers
4k views

Are there any patterns to observe in choosing the correct negation prefix to use?

Are there any patterns to observe in choosing the correct prefix to use? There are other prefixes as well, but these are usually the ones I mix up. As in unbelievable, disproportionate, asymmetric, ...
31
votes
3answers
4k views

Why are not “infamous” and “inflammable” the opposite of “famous” and “flammable”?

Why are not infamous and inflammable the opposite of famous and flammable, like incomplete, inactivity, inappropriate and so on?
7
votes
5answers
4k views

“Irregardless” vs. “irrespective”

Why is irrespective considered a proper word but irregardless is not?