60+ Greek and Latin Prefixes
Arranged by Meaning

Understanding the most common Greek and Latin prefixes will help you recognize the meaning of a large number of English words

For examples and a list of the most common of these prefixes in alphabetical order (plus a few tips on understanding their use), you might want to see List of Prefixes.

The list on this page is arranged according to the meaning of the prefixes in English, followed by the Latin Greek prefixes for each meaning. The prefixes on the alphabetical list that aren’t included here (and others that are obvious, like over- and under-) are English, except non- and counter-, which come to English from French.

The list below also includes some Greek (and a few Latin) prefixes that were not included on the first list because they are not used as commonly in English as the others.

How prefixes change meanings: mission, admission, commission, submission, etc. and logical, archeological, biological, ideological, etc.
How prefixes change meanings: mission, admission, commission, submission, etc. and logical, archeological, biological, ideological, etc.

The illustration on the right gives two examples of the way prefixes change the meaning of roots. It uses 'mission', derived from Latin, and 'logical', originally from Greek.

Many Greek and Latin words are closely related. They may be cognates (ambi-/amphi-, extra-/ exo-) or directly borrowed terms like macro-. (The Romans, like the English, greatly expanded their vocabulary with terms and ideas from the peoples they contacted or conquered.)

Latin prefixes are used more frequently than most Greek ones in common English words, but both are important . Most medical and mathematical terminology comes from Greek.

PREFIX MEANING LATIN PREFIX GREEK PREFIX
above, excess super-, ultra- hyper-
across, beyond, through trans- dia-
after post-
again, back re-
against contra-, (in-, ob-) anti-
all omni- pan
around circum- peri-
away or from ab- (or de-) apo-, ap-
bad, difficult, wrong mal- dys-
before ante-, pre- pro-
between, among inter- epi-
both ambi- amphi-
completely or very de-, ob-
down ob- (sometimes)
four quad- tetra-
good ben-, bene- eu-
half, partially semi- hemi-
in, into il-, im-, in-, ir- en-
in front of pro- pro-
inside intra- endo-
large (macro-, from Greek) macro-
many multi- poly-
not* de-, dis-, in-, ob- a-, an-
on epi-
one uni- mono-
out of ex-, e- ek-
outside extra-, extro- ecto-, exo-
over ob- (sometimes)
self ego- auto-, aut-,auth-
small micro-
three tri- tri-
through trans- dia-
to or toward ad-, a-, ac-, as- epi-
two bi- di-
under, insufficient sub- hypo-
with co-. com-, con- sym-, syn-
within, inside intra- endo-
without dis- (sometimes) a-, an-

* These negative prefixes mean 'not' or something similar, or reverse the action or meaning of the word they attach to. For more information, see Negative Prefix List. To practice these prefixes, see 50 Word Roots from Latin and Match Words from Latin Roots, Important Latin Roots, and others given in Roots, Prefixes, and Suffixes below.

HomeRoots, Prefixes, and Suffixes> Greek & Latin Prefixes.

Top Of Page
Protected by Copyscape Online Copyright Search

Sign-up for our free newsletter, English Detective for interesting reading, vocabulary practice, puzzles, and more in your inbox every month. 

For information (and a free bonus), see Building Vocabulary 

Enter Your E-mail Address
Enter Your First Name (optional)
Then

Don't worry — your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you English Detective.

New! Comments

What do you think about what you just read? Leave me a comment in the box below.

Didn't find what you needed? Try explaining what you want in a few words in the search box below. (For example, cognates, past tense practice, or 'get along with.')