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Prefixes: List of 50+ Common Prefixes in English

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A prefix is a word part added to the beginning of a base word to create a new word with a different meaning. In this lesson, you will learn a list of 50+ common prefixes in English to enhance your vocabulary and communication skills.


What is a Prefix?

A prefix is an affix which is placed before the stem of a word. Adding it to the beginning of one word changes it into another word.

For example, when the prefix un- is added to the word happy, it creates the word unhappy. Particularly in the study of languages, a prefix is also called a preformative, because it alters the form of the words to which it is affixed.

Prefixes play a significant role in shaping the meaning of words in the English language. They help to convey different shades of meaning and make the language more descriptive and expressive.

Prefixes: List of 50+ Common Prefixes in English 1

Types of Prefixes

Negative Prefixes:

Negative prefixes, such as “un-” or “dis-“, express the opposite or negation of the meaning of the base word. For example, “happy” becomes “unhappy” with the addition of the negative prefix “un-“.

Reversative Prefixes:

Reversative prefixes, such as “un-” or “dis-“, indicate a reversal of action or change of state. For example, “tie” becomes “untie” with the addition of the reversative prefix “un-“.

Dispositive Prefixes:

Dispositive prefixes, such as “de-” or “dis-“, indicate a removal or separation of something. For example, “connect” becomes “disconnect” with the addition of the dispositive prefix “dis-“.

Locative Prefixes:

Locative prefixes, such as “pre-” or “post-“, indicate a location or position in relation to something else. For example, “war” becomes “pre-war” with the addition of the locative prefix “pre-“.

Prefixes (list of 50+ Common Prefixes in English)

1. a, ab, abs

Meaning: Away from

Example: Absent , Abscond

2. ad, a, ac, af, ag, an, ar, at, as

Meaning: To, toward

Example: Adapt , Adhere , Annex, Attract

3. ante

Meaning: Before

Example: Antecedent

4. anti  

Meaning: Against

Example: Antifreeze, Antisocial, Antigravity

5. auto

Meaning: Self

Example: Autopilot

6. bi, bis

Meaning: Two

Example: Bicycle, Biannual, Biennial

7. circum, cir

Meaning: Around

Example: Circumscribe, Circle

8. com, con, co,col

Meaning: With, together

Example: Combine, Contact, Collect, Co-worker

9. de

Meaning: away from, down, the opposite of/ undo

Example: Depart, Decline, Derail

10. dis, dif, di

Meaning: Apart

Example: Dislike, Dishonest, Distant

Common Prefixes

11. epi  

Meaning: Upon, on top of

Example: Epitaph, Epilogue

12. equ, equi

Meaning: Equal

Example: Equalize, Equitable

13. ex, e, ef

Meaning: Out, from

Example: Exit, Eject, Exhale

14. extra

Meaning: Beyond

Example: Extraodinary

15. hex

Meaning: Six

Example: Hexadecimal

16. in, il, ig, ir, im

Meaning: Not

Example: Inactive, Ignoble, Irreversible, Irritate

17. in, il, ir, im, en

Meaning: In, into

Example: Inject, Impose

18. infra

Meaning: Below

Example: Infra-red

19. inter  

Meaning: Between, among

Example: International, Interpose

20. macro

Meaning: Large, great

Example: Macroeconomics

21. mal, male

Meaning: Bad, ill, wrong

Example: Malpractice, Malfunction

22. mega

Meaning: Large, great

Example: Magabyte

23. micro

Meaning: Very small

Example: Microbiology, Microcomputer, Microscopic

24. mini

Meaning: Small

Example: Minicomputer

25. mis 

Meaning: Wrong, badly

Example: Mistreat, Mistake , Misplace

26. mono 

Meaning: One, alone, single

Example: Monopoly, Monotone, Monologue, Monosyllable ”

27. multi

Meaning: Many

Example: Multiplexor, Multicoloured

28. non  

Meaning: Not, the reverse of

Example: Nonsense, Nonprofit

29. ob  

Meaning: In front, against, in front of, in the way of

Example: Obstacle, Obvious, Obviate

30. omni  

Meaning: Everywhere, all

Example: Omnipresent, Omnipotent

Common Prefixes

31. penta

Meaning: Five

Example: Pentagon

32. per  

Meaning: Through

Example: Pervade, Perceive

33. peri

Meaning: Around

Example: Peripheral, Periscope

34. poly  

Meaning: Many

Example: Polysyllable, Polygon

35. post  

Meaning: After / later/ behind

Example: Postpone, Postmortem, Postdate

36. pre

Meaning: Before, earlier than

Example: Preview, Prehistoric, Preface, Prepay

37. prime

Meaning: First

Example: Primary, Primitive

38. pro  

Meaning: Forward, going ahead of, supporting

Example: Proceed, Prowar, Promote

39. quad

Meaning: Four

Example: Quadruple

40. re  

Meaning: Again, back

Example: Retell, Recall, Recede, Reuse

Common Prefixes

41. retro

Meaning: Backward

Example: Retrograde, Retroactive

42. se  

Meaning: Apart

Example: Secede , Seclude

43. semi

Meaning: Half, partly

Example: Semiconductor

44. sub  

Meaning: Under, less than

Example: Submarine, Subway, Subliminal, Subfloor

45. super  

Meaning: Over, above, greater

Example: Superstar, Superimpose

46. trans  

Meaning: Across

Example: Transcontinental, Transverse

47. tri

Meaning: Three

Example: Triangle

48. un  

Meaning: Not

Example: Uninterested, Unhelpful , Unethical

49. un, uni

Meaning: One

Example: Unidirectional, Unanimous, Unilateral, Unpopular

Common Prefixes

Common misconceptions about Prefixes

  • Prefixes can be used independently:

One common misconception is that prefixes can be used independently as separate words. This is not true, as prefixes must be attached to a base word to create a new word with a specific meaning.

  • Prefixes can change the meaning of a word completely:

Another common misconception is that prefixes can change the meaning of a word completely. While prefixes can certainly change the meaning of a word, they often only modify or add to the original meaning of the base word, rather than completely replacing it.


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