40 Words Beginning with “Para-“
The prefix para- is versatile, meaning “beside,” “closely related,” or “closely resembling”; “accessory” or “subsidiary”; “beyond”; or “abnormal” or “faulty.” The commonality is that a word beginning with para- pertains to the relationship or resemblance of something to something else. This post lists and briefly defines words with the prefix.
1. parable (“throw beside”): a story illustrating a moral or religious principle
2. parabola (“throw beside”): a roughly U-shaped curve, or a similarly shaped object
3. paracentesis (“stab beside”): a puncturing surgical procedure
4. parachute (“against fall”): a canopy of fabric used to slow the fall of someone or something from an aircraft (or something figuratively similar), or a similar anatomical structure on an animal
5. paradigm (“show beside”): an example or pattern
6. parados (“against back”): a rear wall of a military trench
7. paradox (“outside of opinion”): something contrary to expectation
8. paragliding (“against descending smoothly,” on the model of parachute): an airborne activity involving a person harnessed to a maneuverable parachute-like wing
9. paragon (“beside whetstone”): a model or pattern of excellence
10. paragraph (“written beside”): a short piece of writing on one topic
11. paralanguage (“beside what is said”): vocal effects such as tone that convey additional meaning
12. paralegal (“beside law”): an assistant to a lawyer
13. paraleipsis (“pass over”): something mentioned only briefly, but emphasized by doing so
14. parallax (“change beside”): an inclination of two converging lines
15. parallel (“beside each other”): equidistant, or equal or similar, or arranged for simultaneity
16. parallelogram (“draw equal”): a four-sided shape with parallel sides of equal length
17. paralysis (“loosen beside”): loss of ability to move or act
18. paramagnetic (“abnormally attracting”): weakly magnetic
19. paramecium (“long on one side”): a type of single-celled animal
20. paramedic (“beside doctor”): medical personnel who treat injured or sick people before and while they are taken to a hospital, or who assist doctors
21. parameter (“beside measure”): a factor or limit
22. paramilitary (“resembling soldiers”): an unofficial military unit
23. paranoia (“beside mind”): delusional mental illness, or irrational suspicion
24. paranormal (“beside usual”): not scientifically explainable
25. parapet (“against breast”): a wall of stone or earth
26. paraphernalia (“beside dowry”): belongings or equipment
27. paraphilia (“beside love”): arousal about improper sexual practices
28. paraphrase (“point out beside”): restatement
29. paraplegia (“strike at one side”): paralysis of the lower body
30. parapraxis (“against practice”): blunder or lapse, or an error that reveals subconscious motives
31. paraprofessional (“beside skilled person”): one who assists a professional worker such as a teacher
32. parapsychology (“beside study of the mind”): investigation of psychic phenomena
33. paraquat (“resembling four,” from its chemical composition): an herbicide
34. parasailing (“against sail,” on the model of parachute): an airborne activity involving a person harnessed to a parachute-like device being pulled by a vehicle
35. parasite (“beside food”): an organism or entity that exploits a host or other entity
36. parasol (“against sun”): an umbrella for shielding the bearer from sunlight
37. parastate (“resembling political entity”): a political territory not recognized by others
38. parasympathetic (“beside feeling with”): pertaining to a part of the nervous system
39. paratransit (“beside travel”): individualized public transit
40. paratrooper (“against soldier,” on the model of parachute): a soldier specializing in parachuting from an aircraft
Some words beginning with para-, such as parakeet, paramount, and paramour, are distantly related, not directly associated with the etymology of the prefix, while other words beginning with or including par- but followed by another vowel or a consonant are closely cognate; the latter group will be detailed in a subsequent post.
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