Prefix and Suffix-athon

Native English speakers routinely squash prefixes and suffixes before and after words to alter their meanings. Often they do it without giving much thought as to what the few letters before or after actually mean. For instance, if someone is being careless, a native English speaker would be quick to say, “Hey, stop acting carelessly,” without hesitating to recall that the suffix –ly means “in the matter of.”

But, oh those poor English learners. It takes time to memorize all our prefixes and suffixes and learn which to attach to what word. (A unicycle is quite different from a tricycle, you know.) It also doesn’t help that English, being that it is the bastard child of multiple European languages, adopted its prefixes and suffixes from Latin, Greek, and Old French.

To brush up on your skills, below is a collection of prefixes and suffixes and their meanings.

Prefix Meaning Example
a- not atypical
anti- against anticommunist
bi- two bisexual
counter- against, opposite counterfeit
de- remove, reverse deregulate
dis- remove, reverse disregard
extra- beyond, outside extraterrestrial
fore- before forefather
in- not incomplete
inter- between intermingle
mal- bad maltreatment
mis- not, wrong miscomprehend
neo- new neoconservative
non- not non-starter
over- excessive overspend
post- after post-rock
pre- before pre-colonial
proto- first, primitive prototype
re- repeat reread
sub- under submarine
tele- distant teleport
trans- across transcontinental
tri- three tricycle
un- remove, reverse untie
uni- one unilateral
Suffix Meaning Example
-athon long-lasting marathon
-cide murder infanticide
-er one who performs an action worker
-ess female of heiress
-ette small version of kitchenette
-fest indulgence in chatfest
-ism condition or doctrine feminism
-less without penniless
-lite low in carb-lite
-ly in the matter of quickly
-wash changing the appearance of whitewash
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