Prefixes – Online English Lessons

February 28, 2013 By Angela Boothroyd

A prefix (noun) is an affix added to the beginning of a word or word root to form a new word.

The word prefix comes from Latin fixus (fasten, attach) and pre (before, in front, in advance).

If you know what a prefix means it will help you understand the meaning of a new word, which will help build your English vocabulary.


dis – to do the opposite of

dislike – the opposite of like

disagree – the opposite of agree

disappear – the opposite of appear

♦ ex = was, but is not now

ex-wife – no longer a person’s wife

in and im = not

informal – means not formal

invisible – means not visible

impossible – means not possible

impolite – means not polite

mis = badly or incorrectly

misread – to read incorrectly

misunderstand – to fail to understand, or to interpret incorrectly

non = not

non-alcoholic – means not alcoholic (it contains no alcohol)

♦ over = too much

overpay – to pay someone too much money

oversleep – to sleep longer than you wanted to

overspend – to spend too much money

♦ pre = before

preheat – to heat (something) before you use it e.g. an oven

prepay – to pay for in advance

re = again

redo – means do again

rewrite – means write again

retake – means take again e.g. I have to retake my English exam.

♦ un = not

unhappy – means not happy

unkind – means not kind

unfriendly – means not friendly

Many prefixes have more than one meaning, and I’ve only given you a small selection here. Use your dictionary to help you learn the meanings of different prefixes.

Can you tell me some more examples of English words with prefixes? You can leave your suggestions in the comments section below, or email me

Image © .waldec

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