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.

  • 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
    Commented Jan 25, 2013 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
    Commented Jan 25, 2013 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
    Commented Jan 25, 2013 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
    Commented Jan 25, 2013 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
    Commented Jan 25, 2013 at 18:01

6 Answers 6


It's not exactly a "neologism", since there are 10s of 1000s of prior instances on Google, but...
...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!).


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.

  • 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
    Commented Jan 25, 2013 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. Commented Jan 25, 2013 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". Commented Jan 25, 2013 at 23:33
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    @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. Commented Jan 25, 2013 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.) Commented Jan 26, 2013 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.


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

  • Comathematical doesn't quite seem to do it, but semimathematical might (as long as one doesn't mind aggravating language purists).
    – Charles
    Commented Jan 27, 2013 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.”

  • 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
    Commented Jan 27, 2013 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.

  • What I like best about this suggestion is that the term is almost entirely unused, a tabula rasa for my audience.
    – Charles
    Commented Jan 27, 2013 at 5:47
  • @Charles: Your audience are tabulae rasae, and exomathematical is what you may inscribe onto them! Commented Jan 27, 2013 at 7:06

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