List of Prefixes and Suffixes and their Meanings

By Mark Nichol - 5 minute read

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This post lists prefixes, suffixes, and their meanings. (Many scientific and mathematical prefixes have been omitted.) Groups of one or more definitions after a prefix that are separated by a semicolon stem from different senses of the prefix. Note, too, that some prefixes share the spelling of distinct words (for example, under) or have been coined as distinct words themselves by omitting the base word when that word is implied (for example, hyper). Many prefixes have variants that are used depending on context or, often, on the first letter of the base word.

List of Prefixes

a- or an-: at, in or in the process of, on; not, without
acro- or acr-: beginning, end, height, peak, summit, tip, top
ad- or (first sense only)
ac-, af-, ag-, al-, ap-, as-, or at-: to, toward; adjacent to, near
aero-: air, atmosphere, aviation, gas
after-: following, lower, rear, resulting
ambi-: both
ante-: before, forward, prior or prior to
anti- or ant- or anth-: against, alleviating, curing, opposed, opposite, preventing
arch- or (second sense only) arche- or archi-: chief, extreme, principal; original, primary, primitive
auto- or aut-: automatic, same one, self or self-acting
bi- or (second sense only) bio-: between, double, two, twice; biographical, life
chrono- or chron-: time
circum-: about, around
co-: alternate, deputy, fellow, in or to the same degree, joint, partner, together, with
com-, col-, or con-: jointly, together, with
contra-: against, contrary, contrasting
counter-: against, complementary, contrary, corresponding, duplicate, opposing, retaliatory, substitute
crypto- or crypt-: coded, covered, hidden
cyber-: pertaining to computers or computer networks
de-: derived from something, do the opposite, get off of, reduce, remove from, reverse of, something derived from
di- or (first sense only) dia-: containing two, double, twice, twofold: daytime
dis-: absence or opposite of, completely, deprive of, do the opposite of, exclude or expel from, not
dys-: abnormal, bad, difficult, impaired
en- or em-: cause to be, cover, go in or into, provide with, put into or onto, so as to cover, thoroughly
epi-: after, attached to, besides, outer, over, upon
extra-: beyond, outside
extro-: outward
fore-: at or in front, before, earlier
geo-: earth, ground, soil
hetero- or heter-: different, other
homo- or hom-: alike, homosexual, one and the same, similar
hyper-: above, beyond, excessive
hypo- or hyp-: beneath, down, less than usual, under
in-, il-, im-, or ir-: not; before, in or into, on, toward, within
infra-: below, within
inter-: among, between, between the limits of, carried on between, derived from two or more, existing between, in the midst of, involving, located between, occurring between, reciprocal or reciprocally, shared by, within
intra-: between layers of, during, within
intro-: in, into, inward, within
macro-: large, long
mal-: abnormal or abnormally, bad or badly, inadequate or inadequately
mega- or megal- or megalo-: great, large, million, surpassing
meta-: after, behind, beyond, change, later, transcending, transformation
micro- or micr-: abnormally small, millionth, minute, pertaining to a minute qualities or a small area, small
mid-: in the middle or the midst
mini-: briefer, smaller
mis- or (second sense only) miso-: bad or badly, opposite of, not, suspiciously, unfavorably, wrong or wrongly; hatred
mono- or mon-: alone, one, single
multi-: many, many times over, more than one or two, multiple, much
neo- or ne-: new, recent
noct-, nocti-, or nocto-: night or during the night
non-: absence of, lacking, not, other than, reverse of, unimportant, worthless
omni-: all, universally
over-: excessive, surpassing
para- or par-: abnormal, accessory, almost, alongside of, aside from, beside, beyond, faulty, related, resembling, subsidiary; parachute
ped-, (first sense only) pedi-, or pedo-: base, foot; child or childhood
philo- or phil-: attracted to, enjoying, loving, requiring
phono- or phon-: sound, speech, voice
photo- or phot-: light, radiant energy
poly-: excessive, increased, many, much, multiple, several
post-: after, behind, following, later, posterior, subsequent
pre-: anterior to, before, beforehand, earlier than, in advance, in front of, preparatory to, prerequisite to, prior to
pro-: anterior, before, earlier than, in front of, precursory, prior to, projecting, rudimentary; championing, favoring, substituting for, supporting
proto-: beginning, first, giving rise to, primary
pseudo- or pseud-: false, spurious, substitute, temporary, related, resembling
re-: again, anew, back, backward
semi-: half in quantity or time, or halfway through, incomplete or incompletely, partly, similar to
sub-: almost, below, beneath, nearly, secondary, somewhat, subordinate, under,
super-, supero-, or supra-: above, exceeding, extra, higher, more than, on, over and above, superior, surpassing, transcending
sym- or syn-: at the same time, the same, together, united, with or along with
thermo- or therm-: heat, thermoelectric
tele- or (second sense only) tel- or telo-: distant; completion, end
trans-: across, beyond, changed, through, transferred
tri-, tripl-, tripla-, tripli-, or triplo-: into thirds, every third, three, thrice
ultra-: beyond, transcending
un-: contrary to, not, opposite of; deprive of, release, remove, reverse
under-: below, beneath, facing downward, lower, short of, subjected, subordinate
uni-: one, single

List of Suffixes

A suffix is an addition of one or more letters to the end of a word in order to change its grammatical function. One type of suffix, the grammatical, or inflectional, suffix, changes a word’s grammatical properties, as when an s is added to a noun to make it plural (for example, in the change to walk between “Take a walk” and “Take walks”) or to a verb when converting it to one applicable to the third person (for example, the change between “I walk” to “He walks”) or to indicate past tense (for example, the change between “I walk” to “I walked”).

However, suffix usually refers to a derivational, or lexical suffix, which is attached to a word to change its function, either to another part of speech or to the same part of speech but with a distinct meaning. This post lists many common derivational suffixes, which are categorized according to which part of speech the suffix indicates.

Noun Suffixes
-acy: quality or state
-al: action or process of
-ance or -ence: action or process, quality or state, amount or degree (-ance only)
-ant: agent or performer, or a thing that prompts an action or process, or one connected with or thing acted upon
-dom: office or those having an office, place or state
-er or -or: one that is, or does or performs; one associated with or belonging to; one that has, produces, or yields; one that lives in or is from (-er only); activity or condition (-or only)
-ess: female
-hood: character, condition, quality, or state, or individuals sharing a condition or state; instance or period
-ics: knowledge, study, practice, or skill; discrimination or prejudice; condition, property, or state; characteristic actions or activities, or characteristic operations, phenomena, or qualities
-ism: act, practice, or process; manner of action or behavior; belief, doctrine, religion, theory, or adherence to one; characteristic or peculiar feature or trait
-ist: one that performs a specific action, specializes in a job or skill, or adheres to and/or advocates a code or doctrine
-ite: adherent or follower, descendant, or native or resident, product; part or segment; fossil, mineral, or rock
-ity or -ty: degree, quality, state
-kind: category
-like: characteristic of or resembling
-lore: something learned, traditional belief or knowledge, body of knowledge, or tradition
-ment: agent, object, or result; means or instrument; action or place of an action, or process; state or condition
-ness: condition, degree, quality, or state
-oid: something resembling
-ology or -logy: branch of learning or study of a subject, or a narrative, thing said, or way of speaking
-ship: condition, quality, or state; dignity, office, or profession; art or skill; one entitled to a designation or embodying or exhibiting a quality or state; body of people engaging in an activity
-sion or -tion: quality

Verb Suffixes
-ate: become
-en: become
-ify or -fy: become or make
-ize or -ise: become

Adjective Suffixes
-able or -ible: capable of being
-al: characterized by, of, relating to
-ant: being, performing or prompting
-er: more than
-esque: in a manner of, resembling
-ful: notable for
-ic or -ical: having the character or form of
-ious or -ous: characterized by
-ish: having the quality of
-ist: characteristic of, of, relating to
-ive: having the nature of
-less: without
-oid: resembling
-y: characterized by

Adverb Suffixes
-er: more than
-est: most
-ily or -ly: quality, related to
-ward or -wards: direction
-wise: in relation to

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1 Response to “List of Prefixes and Suffixes and their Meanings”

  • Mike Szczepanik

    Consider adding the prefix cis- (“on this side of”) to the list, as in cisgender, the opposite of transgender.

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