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

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What is the story behind “a-” prefix / suffix?

For example, If this van's a-rockin', don't come a-knockin' Here We Come A-caroling (song title) Come on-a My House (song title) I have a few related questions: What is the "a-" or "-a" called? ...
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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?
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“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 ...
11
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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, ...
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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-?
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1answer
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Why “unequal” but “inequality”?

The opposite of "equal" is "unequal", yet there is no word "unequality". Why do we use "inequality" instead?
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Etymology for “Mc‑” and “O’‑” prefix in surnames

There is clearly a prefix in names like McDonald, McChrystal, O’Brian, O’Neal. What does this Mc- and O- prefix signify? It looks like Donald, Chrystal, Brian, Neal are perfectly fine names on their ...
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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 ...
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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, ...
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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” ...
11
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Using “non-” to prefix a two-word phrase

Does "non-" prefixed to a two word phrase permit another hyphen before the second word? If I want to refer to an entity which is defined as the negation of another entity by attaching "non-" it seems ...
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“Irregardless” vs. “irrespective”

Why is irrespective considered a proper word but irregardless is not?
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“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 ...
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16answers
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A word that means 'most important'?

I tried to find a single word that means "most important", but I couldn't. I want it to be able to express what's missing below: If you get hurt, the _ thing to do is to stay calm. It would ...
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3answers
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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. ...
9
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What are the correct spelling and regional distribution of “X, schmX” to indicate dismissiveness (e.g., “evidence, schmevidence”)?

There is a curious construct in American English in which a word is stated and then repeated with the prefix "schm-" or "shm-" in order to indicate the speaker's dismissive attitude toward a concern ...
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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 ...
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5answers
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Which is higher — “hyper-”, “ultra-” or “super-”?

According to OED, hyper-: over, beyond, over much, above measure ultra-: beyond super-: over, above, higher than They all have the meaning "higher than", but what is the order of ...
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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
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2answers
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Hyphens in verb construction containing prefix such as “re”

In semi-formal business writing in the United States, I often observe that writers tend to add a hyphen between a prefix and the root infinitive of verbs. In many of the cases, the resulting verb ...
19
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4answers
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“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 ...
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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. ...
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Why do we say INcomplete but UNcompleted?

I'm a native speaker and it's just occurred to me that this is a strange irregularity: "The work is incomplete." < Fine "The work is uncompleted." < Less common but still sounds ...
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Is there a prefix that indicates that an event recurs four times a year?

"Semi-annually" describes an event that recurs every 6 months. Is there a similar term for an event that recurs every 3 months? (I'm guessing that "semi-semi-annually" isn't the correct answer.) More ...
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Why does “unisex” mean both sexes?

There are some places where men and women are segregated — for example public toilets and public swimming pool changing areas. By this I mean, for example, that there are "Men's toilets" and "Ladies' ...
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“Inter-”, “multi-”, “cross-”, “trans-” in relation to disciplines

In academia the words inter-discipline, multi-discipline, trans-discipline, or cross-discipline are used to describe a type of combination between different disciplines or the uniqueness of a field. ...
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How to form this tag question?

We always use a positive tag question after a negative sentence: You shouldn't take this medicine, should you? We use a negative tag question after a positive sentence: She must leave early, ...
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4answers
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“The service is temporarily unavailable” vs. “…not available”

Is there a difference? Both versions are common. If there is a difference, which do I use when, and why?
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0answers
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I was wondering why there are multiple prefixes for the same meaning [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why “unequal” but “inequality”? Origins of negative prefixes like in-, un-, il-, ir-, dis-, a- There are a lot of prefixes for meaning ...
4
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4answers
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What's the distinction between “nonessential” and “inessential”?

I'm revising a text that uses the word "nonessential", but my ear is telling me "inessential." Usually when there are two very similar words like this, there is some subtle (or not so subtle) ...
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5answers
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“Not able to” vs. “unable to”

Which phrase is more suitable to convey one's inability to do something — "not able to" or "unable to"? For example, not able to join the meeting unable to join the meeting
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“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"?
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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 ...
21
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5answers
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What is the antonym of the prefix retro-?

A coworker and I are discussing the word "retromingent", which means urinating backwards. We are wondering what the opposite would be: the word that means urinating forwards. What is the opposite of ...
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1answer
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Is “catenate” used in IT parlance?

When I was doing my IT degree in the 80s we learned that, in programming terms, concatenation was the act of joining two strings together. Recently I was reading a technical manual and came across ...
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Change of form of some (Latin) prefixes like ex-, ad- into ef-, a-: are there rules or conditions?

There are many cases of prefixes changing their forms. For example ex- can change to ef- in front of f, e.g. effusion. ad- becomes a- in front of b, e.g. abate. Are there some more general rules ...
6
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1answer
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Prefix di- and bi-

I was wondering if there are differences between the cases of using di- and the cases of using bi-? For example, why carbon dioxide instead of carbon bioxide? Why binoculars instead of dinoculars? ...
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What is the opposite of the “sub” prefix?

The term subcategories refers to lower level categories. Which term should I use to refer to higher level categories? Does supercategories sound right?
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How productive is the prefix “un-”?

Is it possible to use un- with new words such as sit, sleep, sad? I'm currently seeing many words (in programming) which use "un-" in the meaning of undoing something. For example, is it possible to ...
7
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1answer
963 views

When is the prefix non- used vs un-?

Specifically, my students were asking why the terms "nonliving" and "undead" are the way they are. (And why "unliving" and "nondead" seem wrong.)
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Is “dispreferred” a mainstream word in English?

I just recently came across the word dispreferred in a linguistic document. I have never heard the word used before, rather I generally hear something like "preferred something else" in everyday ...
6
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2answers
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in-able ? un-able?

Suffix -able adds meaning "being able" to a word. I know that. Prefix in- and un- mean "not" or some negative meaning. I know that. However, when it comes to mixing of these, I am confused. ...
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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 ...
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1answer
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“Unauthentic” vs. “inauthentic” [closed]

Is there really no difference between inauthentic and unauthentic? If there is, which is more correct?
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2answers
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Rule to determine when to use the prefix “im” vs. “un” to negate a word starting with “p”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Negation prefixes: un-, dis-, a-, in-, … The prefix un is commonly used to negate a word, but is is quite rare with words that start with the letter p; the prefix ...
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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'?
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To outstay vs. overstay one's welcome

I came across the expression "outstayed my welcome" in the following excerpt of a novel I glance around and see that the café has filled up with people ordering lunch and that a couple is queuing ...
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Words having two prefixes incorporated

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 ...
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Adding “re” prefix

Can all verbs have "re" attached to the front of the word? I play Scrabble with a friend who feels that in the English language you can put "re" in front on any verb, and not just the ones listed in ...
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2answers
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'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 ...