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I'm looking for the proper prefix for what kind of "spectating" would make an etymologically correct connotation towards "looking up", where despection and "despising" is looking down on something.

I can edit my inquiry/body, if I'm not adhering to this forum's decorum/rules.

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  • despection?? What is that?
    – Lambie
    Mar 1, 2023 at 22:18

2 Answers 2

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If there were such a word, it would be conspect, or else a new sense of aspect. As Lewis and Short says, Latin conspicio and aspicio can mean "to look upon with admiration." Since such -spicio roots (and their -spectus participles) are the sources of the English -spect words, those would be the logical choices.

Of course, neither of these prefixes means "up"; con- is typically an intensifier, and ad- means "towards."

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There isn't a good prefix that fits the pattern you want.

The prefix for despise is described in the Oxford English Dictionary, "de-, prefix," definition 1a:

a. Down, down from, down to: as depend v.1 (dependent adj., dependence n., etc.), depone v., depose v., depress v., descend v., devour v. (all from Latin). So of English formation, debreak v.

It's difficult to find an antonym prefix that is generative in English. For instance, looking at descend, the antonym in English would be ascend, with the Latin ad (abbreviated in the word) forming a prefix that could mean to/toward, at/by, on/upon/against, or (as with the Latin ascendo) up. (Perseus Tufts, Lewis & Short Dictionary, ad, II.B.1.). However, that is not generative in English, and only a few words represent that sense of up. Aspicio or adspicio means to look toward, not look up at, and doesn't constitute a valid opposite in the way you're looking for (Wiktionary). (In English, aspect is not an opposite of despection or despise.)

For the Latin roots of despise or despicio, the opposite could be suspicio, but it too poses problems. Sub means under, but for suspicio, the resulting word means something like looking from below, that is, looking upwards (Lewis and Short):

I. To look up or upwards, to look up at a thing.

That could be literal or metaphorical, e.g., looking up at the clouds or admiring someone else. If that were in English, that would be exactly what you wanted. However, a second meaning in Latin is more familiar to us:

II. To look at secretly or askance; hence, by meton. (effectus pro causā), to mistrust, suspect

Indeed, the resulting English usage mainly means to mistrust someone, or to believe them responsible for something. The meaning of looking up is mostly absent from English, even though sub/sus is the prefix that would be used to say that in Latin.

The closest you'll get, in English, is obscure terminology. In heraldry, suspectant means that something is looking upwards (OED, "suspectant, adj."). It only holds that meaning through direct connection to Latin; anyone who doesn't know Latin will likely not know why the term doesn't mean "suspicious." Anyone who only knows a little Latin will wonder how sub comes to make a word mean looking up. To be colloquial, it's a hot mess.

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