My first post here, hello everyone. :) Feel free to suggest changes to this question.

I was just wondering why is the word remote unlike the other words starting with “re” like replay, reply, relocate, remove where the “re” is the prefix meaning again. Is there any historical reason behind this?

Are there other words like this? :)

Edit: Actually, I'm referring to my TV remote here, I do know remote also = far..

  • According to Merriam-Webster, remote comes from the past participle form of the Latin removere (to remove), which I found amusing since remove is listed as one of your examples. – Etheur Aug 3 '15 at 18:59
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    Worth pointing out that English takes words from a number of different languages, so there are plenty of words starting with "re" which have nothing to do with that prefix. For example, "ream", "reap". And there are even words with etymologically latin roots that start with "re" and have nothing to do with the prefix; e.g. "regal", "real". – Parthian Shot Aug 3 '15 at 19:04
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    The "again" re- prefix goes on action verbs and it means to perform the action again. Remote is borrowed from Latin, and the mote part is the past participle of the verb removeō, removēre, remōvī, remōtus 'remove' (i.e, move again). So removed can also have the 'distant' sense, though remote is more likely; and there are idioms like at some remove from, a position removed from the battle, etc. – John Lawler Aug 3 '15 at 19:15

Here is the explanation.

re- a prefix, occurring originally in loanwords from Latin, used with the meaning “again” or “again and again” to indicate repetition, or with the meaning “back” or “backward” to indicate withdrawal or backward motion: regenerate; refurbish; retype; retrace; revert.


"remote" means (or meant) "moved back from".

  • Oh I forgot to mention, I referred to my TV remote and not remote=far. – Harshal Gajjar Aug 3 '15 at 18:58
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    Yes, a TV remote allows you to move back from (far from) the TV and still control it. – chasly - supports Monica Aug 3 '15 at 18:59
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    @HarshalGajjar Well, your T.V. remote gets its name from the other definition of remote. The full name for that device is a "remote control" because it controls a device (in this case, a TV) remotely. – Parthian Shot Aug 3 '15 at 19:00

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