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A List of 35 Common Prefixes in English

Common Prefixes With Definitions and Examples


A prefix is a letter or a group of letters attached to the beginning of a word that partly indicates its meaning. For example, the word prefix itself begins with a prefix--pre-, which generally means "before."

Understanding the meanings of the common prefixes can help us deduce the meanings of new words that we encounter. But be careful: some prefixes (such as in-) have more than one meaning (in this example, "not" and "into").

The table below defines and illustrates 35 common prefixes.

Common Prefixes

Prefix Meaning Example
a-, an- without amoral
ante- before antecedent
anti- against anticlimax
auto- self autopilot
circum- around circumvent
co- with copilot
com-, con- with companion, contact
contra- against contradict
de- off, away from devalue
dis- not disappear
en- put into enclose
ex- out of, former extract, ex-president
extra- beyond, more than extracurricular
hetero- different heterosexual
homo- same homonym
hyper- over, more hyperactive
il-, im-, in-, ir- not, without illegal, immoral, inconsiderate, irresponsible
in- into insert
inter- between intersect
intra- between intravenous
macro- large macroeconomics
micro- small microscope
mono- one monocle
non- not, without nonentity
omni- all, every omniscient
post- after postmortem
pre-, pro- before, forward precede, project
sub- under submarine
syn- same time synchronize
trans- across transmit
tri- three tricycle
un- not unfinished
uni- one unicorn
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