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Vocabulary Building with Prefixes

Vocabulary Building with Prefixes

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Author: Alex Seydow

In this learning packet you will learn several common prefixes along with examples and definitions of words.

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Prefixes start the beginning of a word. They are often, but not always, short (two syllables or less). They carry meaning and so can change the meaning of an existing word such as adding the prefix a- (meaning not or without) to the word social to create asocial or not social. Prefixes may also be added to roots which cannot stand by themselves. For example, the word circumvent means to go around or to surround. The prefix circum- means around. So even if you did not know the meaning of circumvent, you could perhaps guess at its meaning by knowing that circum- means around. In the next sections we will go through several common prefixes and examples.



Prefix: Hyper- Meaning: Over


1. Hypertension (high blood pressure)

2. Hypersensitive (overly sensitive)

3. Hyperactive (overly active)



Prefix: Ab- Meaning: Away from


1. Abduction (the action of moving muscles away from the median axis of the body; second definition: kidnapping, taking someone away)

2. Abstain (to hold oneself back from something)

3. Abnormal (deviating from the standard)



Prefix: Com- Meaning: With, together, in association


1. Communal (shared by everyone)

2. Commission (a group of people who are in charge of something)

3. Commingle (to mix together)

4. Combine (to join together to make a whole)

Il- , In-, Im-, Ir-


Prefixes: Il-, In-, Im-, Ir- Meaning: Not*


1. Invisible (not visible)

2. Indiscreet (lacking prudence or good judgment)

3. Irredeemable (cannot be sold or bought back)

4. Irreverent (disrespectful)

5. Imperishable (does not decay)

**NOTE: The prefix dis- can also mean not as in dissatisfied. Im- and In- can also mean into as in incorporate or imbibe (drink in).



Prefix: Liter- Meaning: Letter


1. Literature (printed material, a whole collection of writings in one language)

2. Literal (following the exact words from the original, true to fact)

3. Literate (able to read printed material)



Prefix: Proto- Meaning: first


1. Protoplast (the primordial cell, a person or thing that is formed first)

2. Prototype (first in time)

3. Proto-industrial (the time before industrialization)



Prefix: Epi- Meaning: Upon


1. Epitaph (an inscription on a tomb or monument of a person who is buried there)

2. Epidermis (the outer layer of the skin)

3. Epithesis (the addition of a letter at the end of the word without changing its sense as in whilst instead of while)



Prefix: Eso- Meaning: Inward, within


1. Esophagus (the muscular passage between the mouth and stomach)

2. Esoteric (not openly admitted, restricted to a select few)

3. Esophoria (a squint with the eyes turned in toward the nose)



Prefix: Eu- Meaning: Well, good


1. Euphoric (happiness or confidence, exaggerated happiness)

2. Euphuize (to be over over nice in language and expression, excessive refinement)

3. Euphemism (the substitution of mild for something offensive or blunt)



Prefix: Contra- Meaning: Against


1. Contraception (prevention of pregnancy)

2. Contravene (to act against)

3. Contravention (opposition)



Prefix: Tele- Meaning: Distant, far off


1. Telephone (an archaic and inconvenient form of communication with far away people)

2. Telepathy (communication between minds)

3. Teleport (to transport by telekinesis)

More Prefixes

Prefix Meaning Example

A- not, without amoral

Ad- to, toward adjoin

Ambi- both ambidextrous

Ana- up, back, again anagram

Anti- against antiwar

Apo- from, away from apologize

Auto- self autobiography

Bene- good benefactor

Cat- down, against catastrophe

Centro- around, center centrifugal

Circum- around circumlocution

Dis- apart, not discomfort

Ecto- on the outside Ectoderm

Ex- out of, from Extract

Hetero- other, different Heterogeneous

Homo- same Homogeneous

Hypo- under Hypodermic

In- into Incorporate

Inter- between Interstate

Intra- within Intramural

Macro- large Macroeconomics

Mal- bad, evil Malnutrition

Meta- beyond Metaphysics

Micro- small Microscope

Mono- one, single Monarchy

Neo- new, recent Neolithic

Ob- against Object

Pan- every, all Panorama

Para- subsidiary Paralegal

Phil- like, lover of Philanthropy

Poly- many Polytheism

Post- after Postpone

Pre- before Predict

Pseudo- false Pseudoscientific

Re- again, back Recede

Retro- back Retrograde

Sub- under Substandard

Sur-, Super- over, above Surpass, Superhuman

Trans- across Transatlantic

**For even more prefixes: http://www.virtualsalt.com/roots.htm

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