Finite and infinite come from the same root word, but the prefix of the latter completely changes the pronunciation. Speaking English as a second-language and reading a lot more than I listen, it makes me nervous that I might be missing other such changes.

Is this an isolated occurrence?

  • 1
    I haven't checked out the whole list, but a brief skim here didn't throw up anything else)
    – Benjol
    Feb 17, 2011 at 10:10
  • @Andy: I saw that one, but found no additional examples.
    – user4727
    Feb 17, 2011 at 11:11
  • No, you're right, I skimmed through as well and couldn't find any other examples. I just wanted to suggest it as related reading.
    – Andy F
    Feb 17, 2011 at 11:15
  • You may also like to note that a number of words change pronunciation depending on whether used as a noun or a verb.
    – nnnnnn
    Oct 2, 2019 at 14:10

3 Answers 3


If I read your question correctly, you are looking for examples of words that change pronunciation because of prefixes. Another example would be famous (ˈfā-məs) and infamous (ˈin-fə-məs).

I don't know what this phenomenon is called, but it can also apply to other derivations from the same word; for instance, house (haʊs) and houses (ˈhaʊzɪz), (or the verb house (haʊz)), photograph (ˈfō-tə-ˌgraf) and photographer (fə-ˈtä-grə-fər).


Another example of word that changes pronunciation because a prefix is belief, which is pronounced /bəˈlif/ or /biˈlif/ in American English, and where the prefix un- changes the pronunciation to /ˌənbəˈlif/.

  • I thought it was /bəˈliːf/ in AmE and /bɪˈliːf/ in BrE.
    – Tragicomic
    Feb 17, 2011 at 13:22
  • The pronunciations I reported are the ones NOAD reports as American English pronunciations.
    – apaderno
    Feb 17, 2011 at 13:24

In fact the prefix didn't change the pronunciation. The pronunciation for infinite was the original form (coming from French/Latin). Somehow, when the prefix was removed, the pronunciation changed.

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