What's the value of knowing common Greek and Latin prefixes? They will help you with the meaning of so many English words! (Besides, that, it's fun to see where different words came from!)
The list on this page is arranged according to the meaning of each prefix in English, then the Latin and Greek prefixes for that meaning. (Several do not have a Greek prefix commonly used in English.)
You can see many of the same prefixes in alphabetical order BY PREFIX on the List of Prefixes. That list also includes examples and a few tips on their use. It has a few prefixes that aren't Latin or Greek. Most are from English (like fore-, over-, & un- .) Counter- and non- on that list come from French.
This list also includes some less common prefixes (mostly from Greek) not on the main List of Prefixes.
Many Greek and Latin prefixes are related.
They may be cognates (ambi-/amphi-, extra-/ exo-) or borrowed terms like macro-.
(The Romans, like the English, expanded their vocabulary with terms and ideas from the peoples they contacted or conquered.)
We use Latin prefixes more often than Greek ones in common English words, but both are important. Most medical and mathematical terminology comes from Greek.
(To save space, 'prefix' is written as 'PF' in the table titles.)
|MEANING||LATIN PF||GREEK PF|
|above, excess||super-, ultra-||hyper-|
|across, beyond, through||trans-||dia-|
|against||contra-, (in-, ob-)||anti-|
|away or from||ab- (or de-)||apo-, ap-|
|bad, difficult, wrong||mal-||dys-|
|completely or very||de-, ob-|
|in, into||il-, im-, in-, ir-||en-|
|in front of||pro- (& sometimes ob-)||pro-|
|large||(macro-, from Greek)||macro-|
|not*||de-, dis-, in-, ob-||a-, an-|
|out of||ex-, e-||ek-|
|outside||extra-, extro-||ecto-, exo-|
|over||ob- (sometimes)||epi- (on top of) or hypo- (too much)|
|to or toward||ad-, a-, ac-, as- (or sometimes ob-)||epi-|
|with||co-. com-, con-||sym-, syn-|
|without||dis- (sometimes)||a-, an-|
* These negative prefixes mean 'not' or something similar. They may reverse the action or meaning of the word they attach to. For more information, see Negative Prefix List.
(The most common negative prefix of all in English is 'un-'. We have two others that are also not from Latin or Greek: 'mis-' and 'non-'.)
Recognizing these word roots can help you learn words from emissions to transmit, aggression to progress & regressive , and so many more!
Learn and practice the Greek roots most commonly used in English. Examples from tele (=far) + graph (writing) to psych (soul) + logy (study of). Some of these, like bio-, cardio-, & tele-, above, can also be used as prefixes.
Knowing a few roots & prefixes can help you figure out meanings of new words. These worksheets show you how, step by step.
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