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Prefixes


Prefixes are found at the beginning of a word; they are small but meaningful groups of letters that when added to the front or base of a word they contribute to the meaning of the word.

Knowing the meaning of prefixes will assist a child when encountering unknown words, it helps a child comprehend the meaning of word.

Most Common Prefixes

The following 20 prefixes are commonly used; representing approximately 97%.

Rank Prefix Meaning Examples
1 un not, opposite of uneasy, unhappy & unheard
2 re again, back return, restore & reset
3 in, im,
ir, ill
not, opposite of incomplete, impossible,
irregular & illegal
4 dis not, opposite discomfort, disconnect & discover
5 en, em cause to endanger, enlarge & enjoy
6 non not, opposite of nonprofit, nonliving & nonessential
7 in, im in or into indulge, inflame & impact
8 over too much, above overtime, overweight & overthrow
9 mis wrongly misfit, misspell & misstep
10 sub under, lower subway, submerge & subsoil
11 pre before predict, prehistoric & preface
12 inter between, among intervene, interactive & international
13 fore before forefront, foreman & foresee
14 de opposite of, down decrease, defrost & deform
15 trans across transatlantic, transfer & transport
16 super above, beyond supermarket, supernatural & supersonic
17 semi half semicolon, semifinal & semicircle
18 anti against antisocial, antidote & antibody
19 mid middle midway, midsummer & midwinter
20 under too little, below underclothes, undercooked & underdog

Source: Fry, E.B., Ph.D. & Kress, J.E., Ed.D. (2006). The Reading Teacher’s Book of Lists 5th Edition. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.

The prefix, multi-, implies many, much or more than two. We created the list of words with the prefix multi- by referencing two dictionaries: Merriam-Webster Children's Dictionary and Merriam-Webster's Intermediate Dictionary. We limited these words to those most appropriate for a child in grades 5 through 8 or ages 10 through 14.

The prefix, mono- and mon-, implies one, single or alone. We created the list of words with the prefix mono- and mon- by referencing two dictionaries: Merriam-Webster Children's Dictionary and Merriam-Webster's Intermediate Dictionary. We limited these words to those most appropriate for a child in grades 5 through 8 or ages 10 through 14.

The prefix, bio-, implies of or related to life or living organisms. We created the list of words with the prefix bio- by referencing two dictionaries: Merriam-Webster Children's Dictionary and Merriam-Webster's Intermediate Dictionary. We limited the bio- words to those most appropriate for a child in grades 5 through 8 or ages 10 through 14.

The prefix, under- , implies too little; below. Word Definition underarmunder the arm or in the armpit underbrushshrubs and small trees growing among large trees underclothesunderwear; clothes worn under outer clothes undercookednot cooked enough undercurrentthe flow of water that moves below the surface underdoga person or team thought to have little chance of winning underestimateundervalue, [...]

Prefixes are small but meaningful groups of letters that when added to the beginning of a word contributes to its meaning. Numbers prefixes tell you how many there are of a particular thing. The list below contains prefixes expressing number.

The prefix, dys-, indicates abnormal, impaired, difficult or bad. Word Definition dyscrasiaan abnormal bodily condition caused by poisons in the blood dysenterya disease marked especially by severe bloody diarrhea (adj. dysenteric) dysfunction not performing normally, as an organ or structure of the body; malfunctioning (adj. dysfunctional) dysgenic pertaining to or causing deterioration of hereditary qualities [...]