English Prefixes



A prefix refers to the word part that is added to the beginning of a root or base word (which could be a noun, an adjective or verb) to create a new meaning. It is called a preformative, because it changes the form of the words to which it is affixed.


Prefixes Meaning Examples
un- not unhappy, unreliable, uncertain, unable, unwise, unbiased,
in- not incredible, incompetent, independent, incorrigible, incorruptible, incorrect, invalid, incapable, indecent, inoffensive
ir- not irrelevant, irregular, irresponsible, irrational, irreversible,
il- not illegal, illegible, illiterate, illogical,
im- not immature, immoral, immortal, immodest, | impatient, impossible, impartial, imperfect,
dis- reverse discourage, disable, disinterested, dismantle, disorganize, disagree, dissatisfied, dishonest
re- again rewrite, reread, redo, rebuild,



The prefixes "un-", "in-", "il-", "ir-" and "im-" are referred to as negative prefixes because they indicate the opposite of the root word and they generally respect a certain "rule" that their use depends greatly on the first letter of the root or stem word for example, Apart from these so called rules, there are no reliable true rules for prefixes in English lest you should seek for the words' origins: Anglo-Saxon or Latin or else you should go deeper to see if they are monosyllabic or polysyllabic. These are left for grammarians. You should only learn these things by practice and from time to time check the dictionary to make sure.


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Prefixes Meaning Examples
anti- against antihero, antifreeze, antiformant, antibiotics, antioxidant, antitoxin.
enter- between, among, from one to another intercontinental, interconnectivity, intermediate, interracial.
extra- outside, beyond extraordinary, extrovert, extraordinary, extraterrestrial.
hyper- excessive, overly, too much hyperactive, hyperactivity, hypersensitive, hypertension,
intra- within, inside intranet, intracellular, intramural, intravenous.
macro- very large macrocosm, macroeconomic,
micro- one millionth, very small microcosm, microeconomic, microchemistry, microorganism, microwave,
over- more than, excessively, too much overcook, overpopulated, overexcited, overdose, overeat, oversleep.
sub- under, below subway, subtitles, subdivisions, subterranean; subzero, subsonic,
super- above, over, beyond, extremely supersonic, superhuman, superfluous, supernatural, supermarket, superman .
Trans- across, through transatlantic, transcontinental,
under- less than, insufficient undercooked, underdevelopped, underemployment, underpaid,
mis- wrong, bad, not, misunderstand, miscalculate, misinterpret, misbehave, misgauge,
multi- many multilingual, multicolor, multicultural, multifaceted, multi-ethnic,
poly- many polygamy, polygraph, [ polyglot : (multilingual person)],