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What is the difference between "trans" and "inter" prefixes? For example what how does "trans-disciplinary" differ from "inter-disciplinary"?

marked as duplicate by Drew, user66974, choster, tchrist, Mitch Sep 26 '15 at 16:19

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    It's the same difference that shows up in "across" vs "between". Which is what they mean, respectively. Solve one and you get a handle on the other. – John Lawler Sep 19 '15 at 13:49

Inter means "between, among". Trans means "over, past, across".

So an inter-disciplinary research project is "in between disciplines", which in practice means that it takes some elements from different disciplines and is hence not identified as fitting into a single discipline.

A trans-disciplinary research project would be "across" the boundaries between disciplines, or so I would read it, resulting in a meaning similar to that of inter-disciplinary.

I have often heard and read the word inter-disciplinary, but trans-disciplinary less frequently. Nevertheless, I don't think there can be any doubt that they mean roughly the same thing.

  • They're pretty much the same for -disciplinary, but there's a big difference between a trans-continental flight and an intercontinental flight. The first goes across a continent, and the second between two continents. – Peter Shor Sep 23 '15 at 14:12
  • @PeterShor: Yup it depends on context. – Cerberus Sep 23 '15 at 14:32

"Trans" means across and, sometimes, beyond.

  • Trans-Siberian is the example of "across"

** Trans-border- is the example of "beyond"

"Inter" means 'among, within, between' as interstate, intercity or intercaste.

"Inter" and "Trans" are not mutually interchangeable prefixes and both have their own field of applications.

So 'interdisciplinary' means within discipline(s) and 'transdisciplinary' is not limited within the boundaries if a discipline and makes inroads into other disciplines. To me 'transdisciplinary' is used in the sense 'encompassing as well as overriding the discipline--in the space and sphere of other fields of studies.

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