Prefix Definition, Types with Examples

Prefix: Definition, Types with Examples

This post, Prefix: Definition, Types with Examples, presents an extensive discussion on what a prefix is, the different types that we have with copious examples of each type. Bound Morphemes are called affixes.

What is a Prefix?

A Prefix is a morpheme or a type of an affix that comes before the base, root or stem word; it comes at the frontal position of the root word. In other words, a prefix has to do with a kind of subdivision present in some words and it is likely to be affixed at the beginning of a possible English word, usually with a hyphen.

A prefix will add meaning to the base word; it can occur in different other words but it cannot stand alone as a word.

Examples of a Prefix

Look at the word affixes, it explains clearly the concept of what a prefix is:

Prefix Base/Root/Stem Word Suffix
Af – Fix – es

Let us proceed to consider the different types of prefixes and their examples.

Prefixes of Negation

These are prefixes that when added to a word, they negate the meanings of such word. Examples of these prefixes include:


Examples include: unhappy, untie, unconscious, unrepentant, unreasonable, etc.


Examples include: misuse, misdirect, misguided, misunderstand, misspelled, etc.


Examples: nonentity, nonsense, non-academic, nonreactive, non-teaching, etc.


Examples include: deemphasise, demerit, detribalise, deactivate, deionise, deforest, dethrone, decapitate, etc.


Examples: malfunction, maltreat, maladjustment, malnutrition, maladministration, etc.


Examples: pseudo-drama, pseudo-democracy, pseudo-literate, pseudo-intellectual, etc.


Examples: abnormal, abaxial, aboral, etc.


Examples include:  – inability, insufficient, incalculable, intolerant, insensible, inorganic, inobservance, inoffensive, ineffective, inoperable, insatiable, insecure, insensitive, etc.

When ‘in’ Occurs Before Some Bilabial Sounds

When ‘in‘ occurs as ‘im‘ when it comes before bilabial these bilabial sounds: /p/, /b/ and /m/. Examples include: impatient, imbalance, immature, impassable, impenetrable, impeccable, imperfection, imperishable, immodest, immobile, immortal, immoderate, etc.

When ‘in’ Occurs Before Some Liquid Sounds

in‘ also occurs as ‘ir‘ or ‘il‘ when it comes before liquid sounds or approximants to form assimilation. Examples include: irregular, irredeemable, irreparable, irrelevant, irresponsible, irresistible, irresolvable, irretrievable, irreversible, irrevocable, illogical, illegal, illegitimate, illegible, illiberal, etc.

Prefixes of Attitude


Examples include: antiparty, antisocial, antifreeze, anticlerical, anti-atom, anti-aircraft, antichrist, antemeridian, etc. NB: ‘anti’ is different from ‘ante’.


Examples include: prodemocracy, pronoun, pro-Chinese, proconsul, proactive, etc.


Examples include: coexist, coincidental, co-independent, co-dependent, coincidence, coproduction, co-pilot, coextend, cofounder, coordinate, cooperate,


Examples include: counterattack, counter-march, counteraccusation, counteragent, counterattack, counterblast, counterconspiracy, counterbid, countercoup, countermeasure, countereffort, counterincentive, counter-memo, countermove, etc.


Examples include: contraceptive, contradistinction, contrabass, contraindication, contraclocwise, contracultural, contradirectional, contradistinguish, contranatural, contralateral, contraoriented, contragravity, contracyclical, etc.

Prefixes of Number


Examples include: unidirectional, unilateral, unisexual, unicellular, unicameral, uniaxial, unicolour, unicycle, etc.


Examples include: dicotyledon, bi-annual, bi-weekly, bilateral, bicameral, bicycle, bilabial, bifocal, etc.


Examples include: tricycle, triangle, triaxial, trigon, trisect, trimonthly, etc.


Examples include: quadruplet, quadrangle, quadrilateral, quadragenarian, etc.


Examples include: tetrameter, tetrachloride, tetrachord, tetracyclic, tetradactyl, etc.


Examples include: pentagon, pentameter, pentaprism, pentadactyl, pentaprism, pentatonic, pentatomic, pentahedral, etc.


Examples include: decametre, decasyllabic, decahedron, decathlon, decagon, etc.


Examples include: decimetre, decilitre, decimal, decillionth, decibel, etc.


Examples include: multiverse, multilateral, multidirectional, multilingual, multiracial, multicultural, multinational, multidisciplinary, multicolour, multi-storey, multiparous, multi-ethnic, multi-access, multichannel, etc.

Prefixes Emphasizing Degree


Examples include: supermarket, superman, supernatural, supernormal, superstar, supersonic, superscript, etc.


Examples include: mini mart, miniskirt, mini stadium, minibus, minivan, etc.


Examples include: hyperactive, hyperventilate, hypersensitive, hyperinflation, hypermarket, hyper-modern, hypercritical, hyperacidity, etc.


Examples include: overloaded, oversize, over bloated, overgeneralise, overcharge, overdue, oversimplify, overestimate, etc.


Examples include: outnumber, outspoken, outsmart, outwitted, outrun, outgoing, outlast, outlive, outgrowth, etc.


Examples include: less important, less privileged, less tedious, less beautiful, less attended, less dominating, etc.

Infra (Below)

Examples include: infrastructure, infrared, infra-dig, infracoastal, infrasonic, infraspecific, infralapsarian, etc.

Ultra (Beyond)

Examples include: ultraviolet, ultrasound, ultrasonic, ultra vires, ultra-distance, ultraconservative, ultra-filtration, ultracentrifugal,

Supra (Over, Above, Beyond, or Greater than)

Examples include: supralapsarian, supraglottal, suprasegmentals, supraliminal, supranational, supraorbital, supramolecular, etc.

Sub (Under, Beneath, Secondary in rank)

Examples include: subtopic, subliminal, subnormal, subalpine, suborbital, subnuclear, subordinate, suboceanic, subatomic, substandard, subcommittee, subterranean, etc.

Additive/Replacive Prefixes

  • decrease/increase
  • appreciate/depreciate
  • accelerate/decelerate
  • absent/present
  • displace/replace
  • inflate/deflate
  • implode/explode
  • import/export
  • immigrate/emigrate
  • inflow/outflow

Prefixes of Location or Direction

Pre (Before in time, rank, order, position)

Examples include: predate, preeminent, premeditation, prefrontal, prepaid, preschool, prefix, etc.

Post (After in time or sequence; Following; Subsequent)

Examples include: postmortem, postdate, posthumous, postnatal, postfix, post-paid, post-primary, postgraduate, postorbital, postscript, postdoctoral, poststructuralist, postpositive, postmodern, postoperative, postmillennial, postmeridian, etc.

Trans (across, beyond)

Examples include: transatlantic, transnational, transoceanic, trans-Siberian, transuranic, etc.

Important Information to Note

It is important to stress that it is not in all words that you can bring out prefixes as have been discuseed above. There are some words that cannot be further broken down into prefixes and base or root words. Examples of such words are listed below:

  • Post in postpone
  • Extra in extraneous or extrapolate
  • Inter in interest, interpret or intervene
  • Pre in prefer, pretend or prevent
  • Pro in produce, profile and protect
  • Re in receive, repeat or reveal
  • Sub in subsist, subvert or support
  • Super in in supersede or supervise
  • Trans in transport or transcript
  • Anti in in antigen or antipathy
  • Hyper in hyperbole

Note that prefixes come under the Grammatical Unit called Morphemes.

Related Posts

You can read more on the following related posts for more understanding:

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    1. Extra: (‘outside’)
      extraordinary, extramarital, extra-terrestrial, etc.

      Re: (again)
      reclaim, re-evaluate, renew, resit, etc.

      Inter (“between”)
      international, interstate and intertwine.

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