165 votes

Words with "bi-" prefix that no longer mean "two"

billion comes from bi- + million, as it originally meant the product of two millions - in other words, a million million. This usage persists in Europe (see long scale), but in America a billion ...
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129 votes

Words with "bi-" prefix that no longer mean "two"

One is biscuit / biscotti, which literally means "twice cooked". Although the prefix here is "bis", it does start with "bi", so... from Oxford Living Dictionary: Origin Middle English: from ...
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80 votes

Words with "bi-" prefix that no longer mean "two"

The example given by the OP isn't too far off the mark. Rather than bicycle consider the shortened version "bike" where it may be used as part of another word e.g. quad-bike. In this case it is being ...
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53 votes

Words with "bi-" prefix that no longer mean "two"

Might be a bit of a stretch, but... Bivouac a temporary encampment with few facilities, as used by soldiers, mountaineers, etc verb -acs, -acking or -acked (intr) to make such an encampment ...
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46 votes

Words with "bi-" prefix that no longer mean "two"

While bigamy technically means the act of taking a second spouse while still legally married to a first (in cultures that enforce marital monogamy), in practice it also refers to people who have a ...
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  • 2,367
42 votes

Why do we say INcomplete but UNcompleted?

The root doesn't matter if it's been reified, contracted, or inflected. That makes it a different word, with different affordances. The opposite of incomplete is complete; i.e, all parts are present. ...
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33 votes

Words with "bi-" prefix that no longer mean "two"

My pet peeve: bimonthly, which means every 2 months, but also every 1/2 a month. The latter meeting your criteria. Edit: I'm relieved that other people find this as odd as me. Yes bimonthly means ...
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30 votes

Words with "bi-" prefix that no longer mean "two"

If you can forgive the transformation of bi- to ba- over time, a barouche is a luxurious, four-wheeled carriage drawn by horses. The word ultimately comes from Latin birotus (bi- "two" + rotus "wheel")...
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28 votes
Accepted

"Sometimes", "oftentimes" — is there a -times word for "very rarely"?

Is there a -times word for rarely? Geoffery Chaucer certainly thought so when in The Clerk’s Tale he whilom wrote: To that I nevere erst thoughte, streyne me. I me rejoysed of my liberte, ...
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  • 128k
26 votes
Accepted

No, not, and non

Not is a negative adverb; no is a negative quantifier; non- is a negative prefix. Since negation is so important, thousands of idioms use each of these, among other negatives. Consequently there are ...
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24 votes

Words with "bi-" prefix that no longer mean "two"

Perhaps bifurcation is an example? At least the mathematical sense given in Wiktionary, The change in the qualitative or topological structure of a given family as decribed by bifurcation theory. ...
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23 votes
Accepted

Why is "coon" a word?

Native speakers often know nothing about the derivation of words they use. Who knew that raccoon was an Algonquin word? Daily or otherwise frequent encounters with the object referred to by the noun ...
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21 votes

What is /iə/ in English?

Take, for example, the word beer. Here we would use the transcription /bɪə/ in Southern Standard British English (SSBE). Notice that this word has two phonemes, the consonant /b/ and the vowel /ɪə/. ...
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20 votes
Accepted

Why are dictionary transcriptions contradictory for the phonetic representation of oranges?

A non-negotiable phonological rule of all standard Englishes inserts a vowel (either /ə/ or /ɪ/, depending on the variety of English) between base-final sibilant consonants and the plural morpheme /z/....
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17 votes

Words with "bi-" prefix that no longer mean "two"

"Bicarbonate" and "bisulfate", maybe; these are (in chemistry) older, discouraged (but still in somewhat common use, especially "bicarbonate") names for the hydrogencarbonate and hydrogensulfate ...
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  • 370
17 votes
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Why does "prayer" end with -er?

It ends in ‑er because it mostly started out that way, and that aspect of it did not change. The OED says that this word was initially a direct borrowing from French, and that its etymon was the ...
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  • 128k
15 votes

Words with "bi-" prefix that no longer mean "two"

Binary seems like a good fit for OP's conditions. Computers. binary code. Computers. an executable file stored in binary format. The use of "binary" in computer science originally meant a ...
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  • 395
13 votes
Accepted

What is the difference between the suffixes -ize and -ify?

Courtesy of @DanBron, here's what it says in Word Formation in English, with interpolated translations: -ify This suffix attaches to three kinds of base word: 1. monosyllabic words 2. words ...
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13 votes

Words with "bi-" prefix that no longer mean "two"

I've several times heard the word bilingual used to mean "Spanish- and English-speaking," without regard to how many other languages a person may know. For example, a person who knows Spanish, English ...
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12 votes

How did 'anyway' become 'anyways,' anyway?

The 's' wasn't added; for some uses of the word anyways, it has always had an 's' on it. The OED calls it an adverbial genitive. The adverbial genitive was a grammatical form in Middle English; to ...
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11 votes

Words with "bi-" prefix that no longer mean "two"

Another potential contender can be bipolar bipolar [adjective] (of psychiatric illness) characterized by both manic and depressive episodes, or manic ones only. (of a person) suffering from bipolar ...
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  • 2,157
10 votes
Accepted

Is there a general rule for which types of nouns end in -archy vs. -cracy?

According to Liddell & Scott, An Intermediate Greek–English Lexicon (1889), the root word κρατος (kratos) in ancient Greek meant "strength, might"—and more generally, "power" ...
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10 votes
Accepted

Strong /strɔːŋ/ → stronger /strɔːŋɡər/ - Why do we have to put an extra /g/ in front of /ər/? Is it a rule?

In both Southern Standard British English and General American, there is indeed a phonological generalisation that can be made such that adjectives ending in /ŋ/ have comparative forms ending in /gə/ ...
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10 votes

Words with "bi-" prefix that no longer mean "two"

Another possible word could be bicarbonate. Bicarbonate does not mean two carbonates, but rather hydrogenated carbonate. The carbonate ion is CO32-, while the bicarbonate ion is HCO3- Wikipedia ...
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10 votes

Words with "bi-" prefix that no longer mean "two"

The definition given in Oxford Living Dictionaries seems to indicate that a biennale no longer has to be an event occurring every two years: biennale, noun: A large art exhibition or music festival,...
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  • 226
10 votes

Why are dictionary transcriptions contradictory for the phonetic representation of oranges?

One of the questions you ask is: Was it many many years ago pronounced without a final vowel sound? As such, the phonetic representation of oranges has now changed? Actually, it was the other way ...
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7 votes
Accepted

"The species/species'/species's survival..."

The online Chicago Manual of Style (both 16th and 17th editions) states: When the singular form of a noun ending in s is the same as the plural (i.e., the plural is uninflected), the possessives of ...
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6 votes
Accepted

Why Greek morphemes over Latin, or Latin over Greek? *A Call to Lexicographers*

It may be possible to know why Latin was chosen over Greek (or vice versa) in particular cases. Let's take hydraulic over "aqualic." The etymology of "hydraulic" is actually ὕδωρ (water) + αὐλός (...
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