I need the antonyms for "append" (that is, I need a word that means "to remove at the end", since "append" means "to add at the end") and "prepend" (that is, I need a word that means "to remove at the beginning", since "prepend" means "to add at the beginning"). Do those words exist?

Would it be possible to use "behead" in a general context or is it limited to killing somebody?

  • To detach would be a good word for the antonym of append, and yes, programmers need to prepend and append all day
    – mplungjan
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 9:17
  • @BillFranke "remove" does not express the difference between the beginning and the end.
    – ceving
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 9:20
  • If this is for coding purposes, why not just make up your own terminology? FrontDelete vs. BackDelete, for instance.
    – user13141
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 9:40
  • 2
    It would help to know the context for these antonyms.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 14:27
  • 2
    Don't look for single words. Use add to or remove from in conjunction with start or end, depending. Perl used pop and push, and shift and unshift, but I don't advise it.
    – tchrist
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 18:10

5 Answers 5


You could top and tail something.

to cut off the hard parts at each end of a fruit or vegetable when you prepare it for cooking: Top and tail the beans.

One can do this with gooseberries and runner beans and so forth, so I can't see why you shouldn't do it to something else.

  • Are "top" and "tail" used as verbs in this context? Normally they are not, are they?
    – ceving
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 13:38
  • @ceving, that's correct. Top and tail are verbs in this context, and used in a slightly unusual way. They both have other meanings as verbs but are more commonly nouns. Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 13:55

"Truncate" means to remove part of something, usually at the end.

  • truncate − shorten (something) by cutting off the top or the end. Example: "a truncated cone shape". Synonyms: shorten, cut, cut short, curtail, bring to an untimely end.
    – Bryce
    Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 18:11
  • 1
    Truncate is the best word for this application.
    – Tim
    Commented Jul 25, 2017 at 17:15

In the generic sense, you could use edit, since, strictly speaking, removing is a form of editing. That would be much better than behead.

You might also consider the verb dele, though. It means:

To remove, especially from printed or written matter; delete.

That word itself won't tell you if the text to be deleted comes from the front or the back of written work, but you could specify that by saying, "dele from the front," or, "dele from the end."

As Bill suggested, though, the words remove and delete would probably sound more natural. If any English words do mean "delete from the beginning" or "delete from the end of something," they don't spring to my mind.

If you wanted to use something informal, you might consider lop off or chop off. One dictionary defines lop as:

To cut off as the top or extreme part of anything

so lop off might at least carry the implication that the text being deleted is from either the beginning or the end, and not the middle, whereas that might not be so for remove or delete.

  • So the answer is: they do not exist?
    – ceving
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 9:31
  • @ceving: Sorry, ceving, I don't have time to go through the entire dictionary this morning, and confirm that hypothesis. There are quite a few words in there I'm not familiar with; maybe the words you are looking for are buried in there somewhere, I can't say for sure. My answer is, "If they exist, I don't believe they are commonly used." But someone else could chime in with an answer six hours from now that causes me to slap my forehead and think, "D'oh! Why didn't I remember that?" and then edit (or dele) my answer.
    – J.R.
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 9:36
  • I vote for dele and lop.
    – mplungjan
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 9:38

For queues or lists in a programming context, you probably want the following words:

  • dequeue - Remove from the front of the list
  • pop (or pull) - Remove from the end of the list
  • 1
    Depending on the programming language and context there is also "shift" to remove the first element from a list (and "unshift" to add elements to the start).
    – kapex
    Commented Apr 20, 2014 at 19:29

I guess this is an old thread, but if you still want to differentiate between removing from the front or the back, you could build on @gmcgath's and @Bryce's suggestions.

They say that "truncate" usually means to cut off the end. So why not use "precate" to cut off the front. I have no doubt that your readers will know what you meant.

  • 1
    Truncate means "take back to the trunk, the main stem" so one can't form precate: the suffix is not -cate.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Jul 25, 2017 at 17:20
  • and predicate could mean to remove the first two items. ;-) (ad absurdum to underscore Andrew's comment)
    – Ryan
    Commented Oct 1, 2017 at 21:09

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