Is re a prefix in respect or just a part of the word? Any guidance on this would be appreciated?

2 Answers 2


Not in English, but it is derived from the Latin verb respicio, in which re- seems ultimately to have been a prefix.

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    Similarly despicio despise: the Latin can be divided, but not the English. Nov 19, 2013 at 17:15

No, re- is not considered a prefix in respect. Compare the Online Etymology Dictionary entries for respect and disrespect. Dis- is a prefix added to respect to form the word disrespect. As Barrie notes, at one time in its history, the re- in respect's predecessors might have been considered a prefix.

respect (v.) 1540s, "to regard," from Middle French respecter "look back; respect; delay," from Latin respectere, frequentative of respicere

disrespect 1610s (v.), 1630s (n.), from dis- + respect.

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    Clearly, however, they are prefixes. They're surely not suffixes or infixes. Re- is a productive prefix in English, though it's pretty frozen into respect; what's being asked about is the temperature of the freeze. That's an empirical matter, and until there are measurements, it's irresponsible to say that they're not prefixes, just because somebody says so. Nobody knows what standards or rules they're following, and everyone's mileage varies. Nov 19, 2013 at 17:27
  • @JohnLawler You say "they are prefixes" ...? What are? I'm not sure what you are referring to. I said dis- is a prefix. I would argue that re- in respect is not a prefix in modern English. Even Barrie said so.
    – JLG
    Nov 19, 2013 at 18:03
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    Re- and dis- are productive prefixes in English. Dis has even escaped morphological captivity to become a verb. Nov 19, 2013 at 18:18

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