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.)

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-, hypo-, and 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 are commonly used to indicate

  • 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, 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 usefulroots.

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

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 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
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

This table, as well as information and practice on these prefixes, is also available as an inexpensive pdf for classes on Root, Prefix, and Suffix Worksheets. You can also get a similar version of just the prefix table and negative prefix list on that page, just below the prefix packet. (Right-click to download.)

You can practice with prefixes at 7+ Common Prefixes, The Prefix 'Re', or Practice Negative Prefixes.

Word Families shows you how these prefixes change one word family (act). 50 Latin Word Roots shows how they are used with many roots, as well as giving a complete demonstration with one. You might also like English Word Origins, List of Suffixes or Important Latin Roots.

Home> Roots, Prefixes, and Suffixes > List of Prefixes.

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