I was reading up a bit on the wiki page "Numeral Prefix" and realized that the monos, bis, and tris etc. prefixes of nomials, and the hexa, poly, and nanos etc. of shapes are all mixed around amongst the Greek and Latin ordinal, cardinal, and multiple prefixes.

Could someone please help me make sense of this? Perhaps send me a chart that is easier to understand?

  • This is the way English is. Better get used to it.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Dec 6, 2015 at 4:10

1 Answer 1


We inherited this from Latin: learned Romans knew Greek and studied the works of learned Greeks, and freely borrowed a good deal of their technical terminology from Greek scholarship without bothering to Latinize it.

In constructing modern technical terms from classical-language roots it was until fairly recently considered more decorous to use Greek prefixes with Greek stems and Latin prefixes with Latin stems. But this was never obligatory; and today, when every discipline has hundreds or thousands of coinages built on stems drawn more or less at random from the two ancient stockpiles, it has become more practical to follow whatever patterns of prefixation have become established without regard to etymological concord.

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