Prefixes from Latin

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A prefix is a small sub-unit of language: it is a letter or group of letters placed at the beginning of a word to form a new word with a different meaning from the original word.

Many prefixes in English derive from the Classical Languages, i.e., from Greek and Latin. Many, though not all, of them were prepositions in Greek or Latin, and many, though not all, also functioned as prefixes in those languages. Here is a list of the more common prefixes which have a Latin origin. (For a list of the more common prefixes which have a Greek origin see Prefixes from Greek.) The first column lists the basic form of the preposition; the last column lists some of the different ways in which some prepositions appear. For example, 'accusation' is formed from the preposition ad- with the noun causa ('cause'); before the letter '-c-' ad- takes the form ac- by assimilation of sounds. In 'ascend', the ad- is reduced to a simple a-, presumably because adscend produces a clumsy consonant string.


Prefix meaning examples other forms listed in OED
ab away, from abdicate, abduct reduced to a- before p-, m-, and v-; au- before f-; abs- before c-, t-.
ad- to, towards, near adjacent, admission, admixture before c, f, g, l, n, p, q, r, s, t, assimilated to ac-, af-, ag-, al-, an, ap-, ac-, ar-, as-, at-; reduced to a- before sc, sp, st
ante- before antechamber, antenatal
circum- about, around, surrounding circumference, circumlocution, circumnavigate
co- together with, joint, mutual coauthor, coeval, cohabit
com-, con- with, together, altogether compress, concentrate, consolidate assimilated before l, r; before h, gn and vowels; con- before all other consonants
contra- against, opposite contradict, contraflow in words from modern French, modified to contre; from Old French, counter-
de- away, down degrade, depress
dis- not, reversal, separation dissimilar, disembark, disband assimilated before f; often reduced to di-
ex- out of, from, former exhale, export, ex-serviceman often reduced to e-; assimilated to f.
extra- outside, beyond the scope of extra-curricular, extraordinary
in-1 not incoherent, incombustible sometimes assimilated to il-, im-, ir-; sometimes reduced to i- before gn (e.g. ignorant)
in-2 in, into, towards incursion, infiltrate sometimes assimilated to il-, im-, ir-; sometimes em-, en- in words from French
infra- below, beneath infrared, infrastructure
inter- between, among, together interact, interject, international only in entertain, enterprise does the French form entre- survive
intra- within, on the inside intramural, intravenous
intro- in, into, inwards introspection, introvert
non- not non-combatant, nonconformist, nonentity
ob- to, towards, against object, oblige, obnoxious assimilated to oc- before c-, of- before f-, op- before p-; reduced to o before m-
post- after postgraduate, posthumous, postscript
pre- before predecessor, predict, pre-empt II you may occasionally see the purer Latin form prae- in older English
pro- in favour of, acting as a substitute for pro-choice, pro-vicechancellor
re- once more, return to a previous state re-entry, recharge occasionally red- before vowels
retro- back, backwards, behind retroactive, retrograde, retrospective
semi- half, partly semicircle, semi-skilled
sub- below, lower, subordinate submarine, subhuman, subdivision, subjugate
super- over, above, outstanding superego, supernatural
trans- across, beyond, into another state transfer, transgress, transfusion