Friday, September 20, 2013

Word Parts ~ Prefixes

     The Greeks and Romans (Latin) devised a system for creating words by putting together smaller word parts called prefixes, roots, and suffixes.  Last week's Post covered the roots or stems of words (please see Roots of Words). Today's Post covers Prefixes (Pre meaning "before"). This word part is added to the front of a root (basic meaning of a word).
     The value of learning to analyze these word units becomes apparent when you come across a word which meaning you don't know. Once learned, those word units help you deduce and understand many words. These word parts contribute to the total meaning of a word, while each part has its own meaning. Analyzing a new word for its meaning in this way should be confirmed with your dictionary. A word is a sum of its parts––a part-to-part relationship. In reading on how to analyze a word's components at Cuesta College's website, I came across this: "It has been estimated that 60 percent of the English words in common use are made up partly or entirely of prefixes or roots derived from Latin or Greek."
Let's get into the swim of it!
     A prefix is a group of letters added before a word or root to alter its meaning and form a new word. For example:
Word                            Prefix                                    New Word
natural                          un- (no, not)                          unnatural
mail                              e- (electronic)                        email
work                            over- (above, beyond)           overwork
media                           multi- (many, more)               multimedia                                        
clutter                           de- (from, down, away)        declutter

     There are prefixes that indicate when (before), where (between),  or more (ultra). See how daily words change meaning when preceded by these designated prefixes.

Prefix                         Meaning                               New Word
pre-, pro-                    before                                    preschool, premature, predate
ante-                           before                                    antecedent, anteroom, antenatal
post-                           after                                       postwar, postgraduate, postdate
inter-                          between, among                    interstate, interfere, intermarry
intra-                          within                                    intramural, intracardiac, intractable
trans-                          across                                    transatlantic, transaction
sub-                            under                                     submarine, subscript, subserve
circum-                      around                                    circumnavigate, circumference
ultra-                          beyond, on the far side of,     ultrahigh, ultrapure, ultrasound

    Prefixes that deal with numbers or counting are seen in these examples:

Prefix                         Meaning                               New Word
uni-                              one, single                             unicycle
mono-                          one, single                             monosyllable
bi-                                two                                        bilateral
duo-                             two                                        duo fold
tri-                                three                                      tricycle
quad-                           four                                        quadrant
multi-                           many                                      multicolored
penta-                          five                                         pentagon
poly-                            many                                      polygamy

Series of six

Consult the chart prefixes, suffixes, roots for a more inclusive listings. Also, check out the two books pictured at Amazon Books.

Are you surprised at how many words you knew? Are you surprised that you knew their meanings based on prefixes and roots?