The Unfortunate Dys

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The prefix dys- derives from the Greek and has a number of unfavourable meanings. In Greek, using this prefix denoted the opposite of anything that was easy, favourable or fortunate, according to the Oxford Dictionary of Etymology.

Connotations include: impaired, defective, difficult, slow, wrong, ill, harsh, disordered and bad.

There are a number of common words which use this prefix:

  • dyscalculia: difficulty in solving mathematical problems
  • dysentery: an intestinal disorder
  • dysfunction: abnormal or impaired function; hence, dysfunctional
  • dysgraphia: inability to write correctly because of impairment in brain function
  • dyskinesia: impairment of the the ability to make voluntary movements
  • dyslexia: difficulty with processing written language, resulting in reading and spelling difficulties

A longer list is available on the WordQuests site.

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3 thoughts on “The Unfortunate Dys”

  1. A word that shares the same structure is disaster. In antiquity, those were supposed to happen under “bad stars.”

  2. The first word appears misspelled.
    Should it be: dyscalculia?

    (my mother tongue is French, and the word “calcul” or “calculation” came to my mind as I read your quote.)
    Thanks for your Daily Writing Tips!

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