List of Prefixes:
Learn New Words Faster

Recognize hundreds of English words with this list of prefixes (along with some common roots and suffixes.) Practice a few prefixes every day-- with a new root every week or two. Your English vocabulary will take off!

Important Notes about Prefixes

How prefixes change the meaning of the root 'press' (compress, depress, express, impress, etc.), along with the meanings of the prefixes used, taken from the List of Prefixes table below.

(Click here to go straight to the prefix list and save the explanations for later and here for links to more prefix examples and practice.)

1. There are often several prefixes with the same meaning. One may come from Latin and one from Greek.

Sometimes there's also an Anglo-Saxon prefix. (See sub- and hypo-, along with 'under-'.)

Often-- but not always-- they are used with a root from the same language.

So we have ‘synthesis’ originally from Greek and ‘composite’ from Latin. They both combine a prefix meaning ‘with’ and the idea of setting something down.

Prefixes and roots don't have to match. 'Hyper,' (‘over’ or ‘excessive’ in Greek) can be combined with ‘active,’ from Latin. They make the common English word 'hyperactive.' 

See Common Greek and Latin Prefixes to compare these and other prefixes in alphabetical order by English meanings. (See also Greek Roots. Many words there can also be used as prefixes: bio-, photo-, tele-, etc.)

2. Prefixes commonly show

  • size (macro, micro), 
  • quantity (mono, uni, bi, tri, quad, multi, poly), 
  • relationships (anti, contra, com, sym), 
  • position in time (ante, fore, pre, post) 
  • position in space (circum, exo, inter, intra, peri, sub, trans, etc.), 
  • quality (eu, mal), or 
  • negation. (See Negative Prefix List for more.)

3. Several prefixes have more than one form. That's usually because a different ending sounds better before certain letters. These include

  • a- or an-, ad- (which often drops the ‘d’ and may double the consonant of the root word); 
  • co-, com-, or con-; 
  •  il-, im-, in-, ir; 
  • pre- or pro- (sometimes); 
  •  sym-, syn-; 
  • and sometimes others, like sub-.

4. There are many more commonly-used prefixes. I tried to limit this list of prefixes to the most useful of all, so it would be short enough to learn easily. (You can find more complete lists on the Internet or in a good dictionary.)

After you read the definition and the examples for each prefix, try to think of another word or two made from it. For example:

  • anonymous-- without a (known) name, 
  • abduct-- to “lead away” (move your arm or leg away from the body, or to kidnap someone from their home), 
  • adhesive, adjust or administer...

Some prefix meanings will be obvious. Others will make more sense as you learn more words. See 50 Word Roots from Latin for prefixes combined with the Latin verb mittere, and then with other useful roots.

There are many other prefix examples on the pages mentioned below the prefix list. 

Some examples using words made with co-, com-, & con- to show how prefixes combine with roots to form words: 

  • coherence-- stick together 
  • collaborate-- work together 
  • compress—push together 
  • conclusion—closing with 
  • concurrent—along with, at the same time 
  • conference—bring together 
  • conformity—shaped together with 
  • consequences—what follows with (a choice or action) 
  • construction—built with 
  • contact—touching together 
  • convocation—called together

(See bottom of page for more information.*)

List of Prefixes: A-D

PREFIX MEANING EXAMPLES
a-, an- without, not anesthetic, atheist
ab- away, from abject, abscess
ad-, a-, ac-, as- to, toward access, admit, assist
ante before antecedent, anterior
anti- against antibiotics, antioxidant
auto- self autoimmune, autonomous
ben- good benefit, benign
bi- two, both bifocals, bipolar
circum- around circumference, circumscribe
co-, com-, con- with, together companion, concurrent*
contra-, counter- against contradict, counteract
de- down, undo, not degenerate, depress
di-, dis- lack of, not, apart disadvantage, displacement

Prefixes E-M

eu- good, normal eugenics, eulogy
ex- (or e-) out (of), former expose, extract
exo-, ecto-, extra-, extro- outside exoskeleton, extraordinary
fore- before foresee, foreshadow
hemi- half hemisphere
hyper above, excessive hyperactive, hypertension
hypo- under, insufficient hypodermic, hypothetical
il-, im-, in-, ir- in, into, not, against illegitimate, inadequate
inter- among. between interpose, intervene
intra- within intramural, intravenous
macro- large macrobiotic, macrocosm
mal- bad malfunction, malignant
micro- small microbe, microscope
mis- wrong misfortune, mistake
mono- one monolingual, monopoly
multi- many multiple, multitask

Prefixes: N-U

non- not, lacking nonfat, nonsense
ob-,o-, oc-, op- against, over, completely object, occur, omit, oppose
omni- all omnipotent, omnivorous
over- too much, general overall, overdone, overview
peri- around peripheral, periscope
poly- many polygamous, polygon
post- after postgraduate, postpone
pre- before precede, predict, prevent
pro- forward progress, promotion
quad- four quadriplegic, quadrangle
re- again, back reform, retain, regenerate
semi- half, partially semiannual, semiconscious
sub-, sup-, sus- under submarine, subtropical
super-, supra- above, excessive superlative, suprarenal
sym-, syn- with, together sympathy, synthetic
trans- across, beyond Transform, transportation
tri- three tricycle, triple
ultra- beyond. excessive ultraliberal, ultrasonic
un- not undeserved, unhappy
uni- one uniform, unilateral

You can download this table, with lots of practice+, as an inexpensive pdf for classes on Root, Prefix, and Suffix Worksheets. You can also get the prefix table and negative prefix list by themselves from the student version of that page, below the prefix packet. 

More Prefix Examples & Practice

Practice prefixes at 8+ Common Prefixes, The Prefix 'Re', or Practice Negative Prefixes. These pages also give you many examples of each prefix. (There are almost 50 prefix examples on the Common Prefixes page alone.)

The practice exercises show ways to use them in sentences.

The Negative Prefix List explains the differences between common negative prefixes. It also provides lots of examples.

Word Families shows you how these prefixes change one word family (act). 50 Latin Word Roots shows how prefixes combine with many roots. (It gives a complete demonstration using one root.)

You might also like English Word Origins, List of Suffixes, or Important Latin Roots.

*More on Words with Co-, Com-, or Con- 

You can find more complete explanations of the examples in the yellow box (& other words from those roots) on

(as well as several other practice pages linked from them.) 

More examples of words with co-, com-, or con- on those pages:  colleagues, commit, commotion, compelling, complicated, compulsive, concise, conduct, confined, confirmed, conflict, confusing, conjunction, conservation, consistent, constitutional, contain, contentious, contract, contribution, convene, convert, cooperation, coordination, corruption. 

You Might Also Like:

Picture of earth & explanation of negative prefixes (un-, in-, mis-, etc.) All reverse root meanings, but they aren't the same. Uninformed: Is the world flat? Misinformed: My Dad says it is.'

The explanations & examples in this negative prefix list can help you use them without confusion. 

Puzzle pieces linked together to show 'active,' 'activate,' & 'activation.'
Text: 'Suffixes can turn a verb like act into an adjective, noun, or another verb (above) or show tense or number.'

Use this list of suffixes (with examples) to build your vocabulary. 

3 fish swimming in one direction & a different-colored fish swimming in the opposite direction. One fish says 'He always was a nonconformist.'

Knowing a few roots & prefixes can help you figure out meanings of new words. 

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