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:

Un

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

Mis

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

Non

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

De

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

Mal

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

Pseudo

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

Ab

Examples: abnormal, abaxial, aboral, etc.

In

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

Anti

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

Pro

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

Co

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

Counter

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

Contra

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

Prefixes of Number

Uni

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

Di/Bi

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

Tri

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

Quad

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

Tetra

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

Pent

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

Deca

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

Deci

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

Multi

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

Prefixes Emphasizing Degree

Super

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

Mini

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

Hyper

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

Over

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

Out

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

Less

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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10 Comments

    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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