Top 20 Common Prefixes That You Should Know

Common Prefixes Eduhyme

Before delving into the list of common prefixes, it’s essential to understand what prefixes are. A prefix is a group of letters added to the beginning of a word to alter its meaning or create a new word altogether. These word-building elements are the building blocks of language, and they are often derived from Latin or Greek roots. By mastering prefixes, you can decode complex words, infer meanings, and enhance your vocabulary.

For each prefix, we have provided two examples of words that use that prefix. With a few exceptions, these examples are not test-prep words; rather, they are basic words that are probably already a part of your vocabulary. This will help you remember the meaning of each prefix—and show you just how well you already know them.

Let’s now explore the top 20 common prefixes that you should know:

  1. a-, an-: not, without
    amoral (not moral),
    atypical (not typical)
  2. ab-, abs-: from, away, off
    abduct (to take by force),
    abnormal (away from or apart from the standard)
  3. ante-: prior to, in front of, before
    anterior (placed before),
    antedate (to proceed in time, come before)
  4. anti-, ant-: opposite, opposing, against
    antibiotic (substance that kills microorganisms),
    antidote (remedy for counteracting the effects of a poison)
  5. circ-, circum-: around, about, on all sides
    circumference (the outer boundary of a circle),
    circumstance (the conditions or state of affairs surrounding or affecting an event, a particular incident, or an occurrence)
  6. co-, com-, con-: with, together, jointly
    cooperate (to work together, comply),
    connect (to bind or fasten together)
  7. dis-: away from, apart, reversal, not
    dismiss (to send away from, eject),
    disobedient (not obedient)
  8. ex-: out, out of, away from
    exit (go out),
    expel (to drive out or away)
  9. in-: not
    inaccurate (not accurate),
    informal (not formal)
  10. inter-: between, among, within
    intercept (to stop someone or something between its starting point and destination),
    intervene (to come, occur, appear, or lie between two points of time or things)
  11. mal-: bad, abnormal, evil, wrong
    malfunction (to fail to function properly),
    malpractice (wrongdoing, especially improper or negligent treatment of a patient by a physician)
  12. mis-: bad, wrong, ill; opposite or lack of
    misbehave (to behave badly),
    misspell (to spell incorrectly)
  13. multi-: many, multiple
    multimedia (the combined use of several media),
    multiple (having several or many parts or elements)
  14. neo-: new, recent, a new form of
    neonatal (of or relating to a newborn child),
    neologism (a new word or phrase)
  15. non-: not
    nonfiction (the genre of literature that includes all types of books other than fiction),
    nonsmoker (someone who does not smoke)
  16. poly-: many, much
    polygamy (the system of having more than one wife at a time),
    polysyllabic (having three or more syllables)
  17. pre-: before
    precaution (something done in advance to avoid risk),
    predict (to forecast, make known in advance)
  18. re-: back, again
    rebuild (to build again after destruction),
    replace (to put back in its former position; to take the place of)
  19. sub-: under, beneath, below
    subdue (to overcome, bring under control),
    submarine (a ship that can operate under water)
  20. super-: above, over, exceeding
    superb (grand, magnificent, of unusually high quality, excellent),
    superman (a man with powers exceeding ordinary human capacity)
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