Questions tagged [negative-prefixes]

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44
votes
9answers
146k views

“Insecure” or “unsecure” when dealing with security?

Which is the appropriate word to be used in the sentence: The system we were testing was determined to be insecure/unsecure. The usage is in the context of security, specifically a lack thereof. ...
34
votes
4answers
58k views

Why do we say INcomplete but UNcompleted?

I'm a native speaker and it's just occurred to me that this is a strange irregularity: "The work is incomplete." < Fine "The work is uncompleted." < Less common but still sounds "correct"...
31
votes
8answers
3k views

Are “disgraceful” and “ungraceful” two different kinds of negations?

"Disgraceful" and "ungraceful" are both derived from negations of "graceful". Wiktionary describes disgraceful as bringing or warranting disgrace; shameful. giving offense to moral sensibilities and ...
25
votes
4answers
63k views

“Instable” or “unstable”?

From my experience, it seems that although unstable is more commonly used, instable is often preferred in engineering and scientific contexts, e.g. "aircraft instability", "instable algorithm". Are ...
21
votes
2answers
164k views

What's the difference between “dissatisfied” and “unsatisfied”?

Is there a clear-cut difference between dissatisfied and unsatisfied?
20
votes
5answers
5k views

Is “Untap” an equivalent of “Unleash?”

While attempting to assist another user on another Stack Exchange site I stumbled upon this marketing page for the Samsung SSD 850 EVO that—to my mind—oddly states: Untap your computer’s potential ...
19
votes
9answers
7k views

Is there a better verb than “unignore”?

I am wondering if there is a word that is a verb and describes an operation that is the opposite of ignoring, but not in the sense of appreciate. I want a short way to describe the operation that ...
19
votes
1answer
19k views

Why “unequal” but “inequality”?

The opposite of "equal" is "unequal", yet there is no word "unequality". Why do we use "inequality" instead?
14
votes
3answers
12k views

Are there any patterns to observe in choosing the correct negative prefix to use?

Are there any patterns to observe in choosing the correct negative prefix to use, as in unbelievable, disproportionate, asymmetric, and intolerable? (There are other negative prefixes as well, but ...
14
votes
2answers
20k views

When is the prefix non- used vs un-?

Specifically, my students were asking why the terms "nonliving" and "undead" are the way they are. (And why "unliving" and "nondead" seem wrong.)
14
votes
2answers
41k views

What is the difference between “unfeasible” and “infeasible”?

Both "unfeasible" and "infeasible" are words according to spell-check, and they appear have similar dictionary definitions. But what is the difference between the two words? Is one more acceptable to ...
11
votes
5answers
35k views

What's the antonym of “prioritize”? [closed]

If someone is asked to do something important, they might say "I'll prioritize that". But if someone is asked to put something aside to work on something else more important, what could they say? In ...
10
votes
4answers
24k views

Origins of negative prefixes like in-, un-, il-, ir-, dis-, a-

I've read here about origins of in- and un- negative prefixes. Are there any known origins of other negative prefixes such as il-, ir-, dis-, a-?
10
votes
1answer
5k views

How does one capitalize words like “un-American”?

Google's dictionary lists it as "un-American" or "unAmerican" (which looks clumsy to me). Since American is a "demonym," I would usually capitalize it, so I feel compelled to capitalize "un-American" ...
9
votes
2answers
1k views

Preservation of the en- prefix form of Latin negative prefix in-, in enemy & enmity

The en- in enemy is a prefix meaning "not": the origin is Latin inimicus, from in- + amicus — a "not friend" or an "unfriend" (Online Etymology Dictionary—enemy). The Latin in- changed to en- when ...
8
votes
3answers
10k views

in-able ? un-able?

Suffix -able adds meaning "being able" to a word. I know that. Prefix in- and un- mean "not" or some negative meaning. I know that. However, when it comes to mixing of these, I am confused. ...
8
votes
1answer
2k views

What do you call a pair of words with opposite meanings that differ only by a prefix?

In general, words with opposite meanings are called antonyms. Is there a word that describes the subset of antonyms that are different only by a prefix where the prefix negates the meaning of the ...
8
votes
1answer
194 views

Is there a reason for the prefix change of in-/un- in about the 60s period for these words?

I was looking up words beginning with prefix in-, the prefix meaning "opposite" or "negative". There is a pattern I've noticed, namely the one mentioned on Online Etymology Dictionary: The rule of ...
8
votes
1answer
1k views

Un-(adjective) but In-(noun) — does it ever go the other way?

Many pairs of words use un- as a prefix for the preferred adjective but in- as a prefix for the preferred noun (e.g. unstable/instability, unequal/inequality, unable/inability, unjust/injustice, ...
7
votes
5answers
14k views

“Undistinguishable” vs. “indistinguishable”

Is there a difference between these two words? To me, it seems that undistinguishable is more where you can't tell what it is, and indistinguishable seems to be where they're the same. It seems a lot ...
7
votes
2answers
8k views

Dust vs. Undust?

The entry for "dust" from LDOCE says: dust1 (n.) [uncountable] → HOUSEHOLD dry powder consisting of extremely small bits of dirt that is in buildings on furniture, floors, etc. if they are ...
7
votes
2answers
5k views

Why can we use “inadequate” but not “inspecific”?

I find the use of the word "inspecific" very natural. It makes sense and flows easily in sentences I speak and write (to myself at least). However, upon inspection, it is apparently not a valid ...
5
votes
7answers
6k views

Is “unpeeling an orange” grammatically correct?

I found this unsourced reference. Which made me wonder if it is correct or not? Could this be considered an "auto-antonym" like ravel and unravel?
5
votes
3answers
25k views

“Disbalanced” vs. “unbalanced”

What are the differences in usage between disbalanced and unbalanced?
5
votes
4answers
3k views

“That my results are not reproducible” or “that my results are unreproducible”?

What is better to write? that my results are not reproducible that my results are unreproducible How can it be re-written as positive affirmation (preserving the same meaning)? Edit: Do ...
5
votes
4answers
5k views

Insolvable, insoluble, and unsolvable

When speaking of a problem that has no solution, do the words insolvable, insoluble, and unsolvable have different shades of meaning? How do you decide which to use?
5
votes
5answers
3k views

What is the difference between “irreligious” and “non-religious”?

Irreligious (Dictionary.com 1st definition): not religious; not practicing a religion and feeling no religious impulses or emotions. Non-religious (Google definition): not relating to or ...
4
votes
2answers
109k views

Rule to determine when to use the prefix “im” vs. “un” to negate a word starting with “p”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Negation prefixes: un-, dis-, a-, in-, … The prefix un is commonly used to negate a word, but is is quite rare with words that start with the letter p; the prefix im ...
4
votes
1answer
771 views

DIScomfort yet UNcomfortable

Why is the negation of comfort discomfort but the opposite of comfortable is uncomfortable? Or is the word "discomfortable" accepted too?
4
votes
5answers
163k views

“Not able to” vs. “unable to”

Which phrase is more suitable to convey one's inability to do something — "not able to" or "unable to"? For example, not able to join the meeting unable to join the meeting
4
votes
0answers
393 views

I was wondering why there are multiple prefixes for the same meaning [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why “unequal” but “inequality”? Origins of negative prefixes like in-, un-, il-, ir-, dis-, a- There are a lot of prefixes for meaning "opposite". ...
3
votes
2answers
200 views

How did English get related words from the same Latin root but different negative prefixes?

I see that there is no consistent rule in English for which words use which negative prefix, but in‐ is generally for Latin roots and un‐ is generally for Germanic roots. However, I find it especially ...
3
votes
5answers
35k views

“Not possible” and “Impossible”

When we say, It is not fair. or It is unfair. I'm not sure enough to say whether both of the sentences have the same meaning or not though superficially, there is no difference between them ...
3
votes
3answers
4k views

Deprivation and privation

"Deprivation" and "privation" seem to have the same meaning: the denial of material essentials or comforts. Isn't the prefix "de-" redundant? Is there a difference, either in literal usage or ...
3
votes
2answers
582 views

Difference between “disbelief” and “non-belief”

How should one use the words disbelief and non-belief especially when it relates to the belief in god? Consider these prefixes: Disbeliever of god Non-believer of god Do they have different ...
3
votes
1answer
815 views

Why do so many prefixes mean “Not”

While trying to think of a brief list of English prefixes that mean "not" or "opposite to" in some way, I was wondering why so many exist. As English has roots in so many languages, I was hoping ...
2
votes
1answer
22k views

“Unauthentic” vs. “inauthentic” [closed]

Is there really no difference between inauthentic and unauthentic? If there is, which is more correct?
2
votes
1answer
2k views

“Insignificant” or “unsignificant”?

In my job I test different versions of varying degrees on websites. Basically A vs B, and the results of this test determine which version should be developed. The way a winner is chosen is by ...
2
votes
1answer
2k views

“Dis-” prefix meaning and etymology [closed]

Most native speakers are used to "dis-" as a prefix having a negative or opposite connotation (disengaged, dissatisfied, disinterested). However, in rare cases, "dis-" is actually an amplifying prefix,...
1
vote
5answers
5k views

Is “unsane” a word understood by a casual English speaker?

I have heard it used by some people e.g. Jacque Fresco, for example here. I know that people understand the meaning of the word "insane", but what about an average Joe and his understanding of the ...
1
vote
2answers
210 views

Using “not” versus the negation prefixes for negation

Let's take this sentence as an example He is able to move. Now, what is the best negation of that action between those two? He is not able to move. He is unable to move. And what makes ...
1
vote
2answers
78 views

Transcription and pronunciation of the 'un-' prefix in General American English

What's the correct transcription and pronunciation of the 'un-' prefix in General American English? Cambridge Online dictionary provides the following transcription: /ʌn/ It's the same in words with ...
1
vote
1answer
350 views

Polysemous prefix 'un-'

The prefix 'un-' is polysemous. Its meaning depends on the word class of the root/stem it is being attached to: for verbs the meaning has a "reversible" effect and for adjectives it has a "negated" or ...
1
vote
1answer
297 views

Does “unrenamed” mean “not yet renamed”?

I am writing a software and the following description cannot be more than 15-20 characters long. I need to concisely say “files that have not been renamed”. I think “unrenamed files” works, but ...
1
vote
0answers
30 views

Differences in antonyms of “balance” with negative prefixes

Most words only have one correct negative prefix out of "in-", "im-", and "un-". Why are both "imbalance" and "unbalance" both grammatically correct (but "inbalance" is not")? What are differences in ...
1
vote
0answers
118 views

Is there a prefix to denote neutrality?

English has prefixes to denote opposition as well as absence. For example: 'gnostic' vs 'agnostic' (having knowledge vs absence of knowledge) 'social' vs 'asocial' vs 'anti social' (being social, ...
1
vote
0answers
134 views

how to use “non” or “no” together with a substantive to make an adjective

I'm trying to describe in a few words the idea of a sign (as a banner, a poster etc.) without any text on it, but only pictures. Can I use the phrase "non-text" as an adjective? Or maybe "no-text"? ...
0
votes
1answer
896 views

Undeletable vs Indeletable [closed]

Why do we say undeletable instead of indeletable. Sometimes with other words we use an in prefix, such as with indefatigable. I'm curious about un vs in.
0
votes
1answer
183 views

What are the subtle differences between nonarticulate, unarticulate, inarticulate, & misarticulate?

Dictionary.com lists these words as related to articulate: Related forms ar·tic·u·la·ble [ahr-tik-yuh-luh-buhl] /ɑrˈtɪk yə lə bəl/, adjective ar·tic·u·late·ly, adverb ar·tic·u·late·ness, ar·...
0
votes
2answers
131 views

Nonionic or non-ionic? [closed]

which is more correct or more frequently used? Nonionic or non-ionic (polymers)? It´s for an academic presentation.