The Latin root is ques or qui as seen in words like question, quest, inquiry, and quiz. Very related to this Latin root is the root quearere, which seems to have a fair amount of influence on the word require. The other word that jumps to my attention is request.


verb cause to be necessary. (Google)


verb (which has been nounified)

to politely ask for. (Google)

What purpose does the prefix re- serve here? Seeing as both these words a derived from Latin, I would assume the re- prefix follow along the line of:

back again, or again and again, or withdraw

However, quearere generally means to seek and quest means to search for something, so shouldn’t require loosely translate to search again, search for a long time, or stop searching?

Why is it a request the first time I ask for something instead of the second time I go search for something?

If I requiz someone, I am most certainly quizing them again.

If I make a reinquiry, I would undoubtedly be asking again the same as if I were to requestion someone.

Can someone bring some insight to the way the prefix re- is being used here?

  • If you google "request etymology", the little chart that appears for "Origin" in google's own answer box appears to offer some explanation for this. Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 11:10
  • @MaxWilliams Yep, I looked. Is it okay to ask a question I already know the answer to? I'm hoping someone out there has a stronger understanding of this. If I google various forms of this question, I don't get much as far as what the re is meaning here Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 11:22
  • If you think you know the answer, but have reason to doubt it, then I think that's fine as long as you explain your current understanding and the reason which you have to doubt that understanding, which you may actually do in your question (I find it a bit confusing so i'm not sure if that is the case). Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 11:24
  • meta.english.stackexchange.com/questions/391/… possibly relevant here. Basically, I found some answers that I'm not completely satisfied with, and feel there is probably someone out there who has a pretty strong handle on the topic. Additionally, if I need to spend 30-45 minutes researching the topic, wouldn't it be great if the next person could find the results much quicker from this question? Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 12:57
  • If I type define require into google, it tells me under origin the following: Late Middle English: from Old French requere, from Latin requirere, from re- (expressing intensive force) + quaerere ‘seek’. Does that answer your question? The use of re- as an intensifier is not all that uncommon, and I'm sure can quite easily be found.
    – oerkelens
    Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 15:00

1 Answer 1


I'm loosely translating this definition below from an italian etimologic dictionary: http://www.etimo.it/?term=ri

re- or in its original form red- in latin is a preposition that means - back (retract), - against (repugnant), - renewal (recognition) - giving back (return, repay) - bring to its original state (restore) - put in the right place (riporre in italian) - an action that repeats (rifondere - reimburse) - intensifier (redundant) - pleonastic (represent)

So the -re root has quite a diverse action.

Require and request have both the same root: quearere


For some reasons the latin-english online dictionary offers only 3 definitions for this word while the latin-italian has 11, which is why I am posting italian links. I translated it to english below:

quearere is not only to seek but also :

search, go in search search in vain, try to find

strive, aspire to, to desire, to want, to desire, seek, attempt to obtain

get, obtain, procure, make, buy, win, earn

(of inanimate objects) request require

try to stir up, to try to do, make, run

search, investigate, examine, consider, discuss

ask, question, inquire, question, try to know

process, make a judicial inquiry, instructing a process

ask someone

make a living

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