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From my understanding, both the prefixes super- and extra- can mean above or beyond, though a possible distinction could be as follows (from the answer to this question):

...using super-something would be to say that it was "very something." While extra-something would mean "beyond something"...

While a useful dilineation, this isn't always the case for English words. For example, supernatural and superliminal both seem to adhere to the latter definition, so why use super- instead of extra-?

There are two aspects of the question that I'd like to be addressed if possible:

  1. How is it decided which of these prefixes is more appropriate when constructing a new word intended to mean above/beyond the root word (or what has the reasoning been in the past)?
  2. For existing words with specific cultural connotations, such as supernatural, is it appropriate/useful to compose a new word to avoid those connotations, such as extranatural, of which the literal meaning is essentially redundant with the original?
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    Have you checked an good dictionary? – marcellothearcane Sep 9 at 20:03
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    What about hyper? That seems even more in vogue these days than super or extra. – Juhasz Sep 9 at 20:12
  • Extra- sometimes is an intensifier, e.g., extra-pure, extra-fine. So: no rule. – Xanne Sep 9 at 20:20
  • "Extra" can also mean outside of, like "extrajudicial" doesn't mean "super court" but "outside of court." – Benjamin Harman Sep 9 at 21:14
  • "Extra" comes from Latin. "Super" comes from Greek, specifically "hyper." It was common at one point for the Greek H to be transliterated as an S, like "Isaias" getting transliterated as "Isaiah." The Y in Greek is actually a U in Latin and English. The reason we have "hyper," too, as well as "upper," is these words got imported from Greek at different times. Thus, the words "hyper," "super," and "upper" in English all came from the Greek word "ηυπερ" (hyper), while "extra" originated in Latin. – Benjamin Harman Sep 9 at 22:53

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