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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