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Question

Do prefixes & suffixes have antonyms? As in, is it possible for a prefix or suffix to not have an antonym?

Example

Google defines "-gon" as:

-gon combining form in nouns denoting plane figures with a specified number of angles.

I can't find any antonyms for this suffix.

I've observed that prefixes may have antonyms. For example, post being the opposite for pre. But is this considered to be an antonym? If so, can suffixes also have antonyms?

  • 2
    What would an antonym of "-gon" even mean? – Laurel Jun 6 '18 at 20:03
  • The concept of an antonym only works with binary qualities, and even then is imperfect. As for -gon, it is not a morphological suffix like -ly or -ness that changes the meaning of the base word, but a combining form (as noted) which contributes a meaning of its own, and thus cannot be used arbitrarily. You can have a polygon, an octagon, a 164-gon, and so forth, but you can't have an orangegon or a disestablishmentarianismgon or whatnot. – choster Jun 6 '18 at 20:16
  • How about pro- and anti-? – Hot Licks Jun 6 '18 at 20:42
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    (Note that a lot of regular words don't have antonyms.) – Hot Licks Jun 6 '18 at 23:20
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Some prefixes and suffixes do have antonymous counterparts—sometimes multiple, while others don't have any (even though it would be useful if they did). "May have antonyms" is a good way to put it, although I hesitate to call them antonyms as they aren't technically words...

antonym : a word of opposite meaning The usual antonym of good is bad.Merriam-Webster

But in answer to your final question, I believe there are suffixes that may pair antonymously...

-ful and -less as in thoughtful and thoughtless

You might notice that the prefixes and suffixes that may have antonymous counterparts are often complementary and not gradable—they have to do with binary extremes. Perhaps that's why you can't find one for -gon.

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I guess you could argue that an 'antonym' of -gon is -hedron

indicating a geometric solid having a specified number of faces or surfaces

..but it would be like saying the opposite of screw is nail. They do oppose each other in one particular facet (angle vs face, thread vs smooth), but not as a whole concept.

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