The prefixes "patr-" and "matr-" refer, respectively, to father and mother--e.g., a patriarch is a father who rules a family, and a matrilineal society is one where property is passed from mother to daughter.

Is there a prefix that refers more generally to "parent"?

  • 2
    There is the word ancestors. – Elliott Frisch Feb 27 '14 at 19:12
  • @ElliottFrisch It's certainly a good suggestion, but not so specific to parents. – David M Feb 27 '14 at 19:44
  • @DavidM I know. It's also not really a prefix. – Elliott Frisch Feb 27 '14 at 19:45
  • @ElliottFrisch I was on the same fence with progenitor. Ancestr- can be used as a prefix of sorts. Ancestry, Ancestral, etc. Yes, it's mostly carrying the suffix, but still. – David M Feb 27 '14 at 19:49

The answer is yes, and that prefix is parent.

From MW;

Origin of PARENT

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin parent-, parens; akin to Latin parere to give birth to

| improve this answer | |
  • It should end with a vowel to function as a standard English prefix comparable with "patri-" and "matri-", right? Otherwise how can I attach it to suffixes like "-archy", "-cracy", "-philia", "-mancy", etc.? That makes me more inclined to go with Roger's "parri-", but there aren't any examples other than "parricide", so a pattern isn't established. – sigil Feb 27 '14 at 20:19
  • @sigil English is a very irregular language. Con is a prefix that ends in a consonant. So there are precedents. – Elliott Frisch Feb 27 '14 at 20:21
  • Hmm..."parri-" looks more technical and attaches nicely to the usual bag of Greek suffixes, but there's more evidence in the corpus for "parent-" (e.g. "parentage"). The only samples of "parriarchy" online are misspellings of "patriarchy", whereas usages of the neologism "parentarchy" appear to have the correct usage. I'll go with this one. – sigil Feb 27 '14 at 21:16
  • 1
    I'm disappointed that a Google for 'parentomancy' returns 0 hits! That seems like a word that deserves wider use. OTOH, parentophobia and parentophilia return 40K and 100K hits respectively. – Spike0xff Nov 17 '14 at 22:24
  • 1
    @Spike0xff It's up to six now! Of course they're all to your comment. – Elliott Frisch Apr 2 '19 at 0:57

"Parr-" seems to be the general term to refer to either parent, at least insofar as the term "parricide" vs. "matricide" or "patricide".

Parricide: Characteristics of sons and daughters who kill their parents

Understanding Parricide: When Sons and Daughters Kill Parents

I haven't done an exhaustive search to see if this prefix is used in any other contexts, though.

| improve this answer | |
  • I went with Elliott Frisch's answer, based on empirical evidence (see my comment on that answer), but "parri-" feels more prefix-y. If you can find other examples to support the claim, I'd be willing to reconsider your answer. – sigil Feb 27 '14 at 21:18

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.