Prefixes


A prefix is placed at the beginning of a word to modify or change its meaning. This is a list of the most common prefixes in English, together with their basic meaning and some examples. You can find more detail or precision for each prefix in any good dictionary.

The origins of words are extremely complicated. You should use this list as a guide only, to help you understand possible meanings. But be very careful, because often what appears to be a prefix is not a prefix at all. Note also that this list does not include elements like “auto-” or ” bio-“, because these are “combining forms”, not prefixes.

prefix meaning examples
a- also an- not, without atheist, anaemic
a- to, towards aside, aback
in the process of, in a particular state a-hunting, aglow
a- of anew
completely abashed
ab- also abs- away, from abdicate, abstract
ad- also a-, ac-, af-, ag- al-, an-, ap-, at- as-, at- movement to, change into, addition or increase advance, adulterate, adjunct, ascend, affiliate, affirm, aggravate, alleviate, annotate, apprehend, arrive, assemble, attend

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