35 Common Prefixes in English

A prefix is a letter or a set of letters attached to the start of a word (or word root) that partly indicates its meaning. For instance, the word prefix itself begins with the prefix pre-, which usually means “before” or “in front of.” Below is a list of 35 common prefixes in English.

Common Prefixes

Prefix Meaning Examples
a-, an- without, lack of, not amoral, acellular, abyss, achromatic, anhydrous
ante- before, earlier, in front of antecedent, antedate, antemeridian, anterior
anti- against, opposite of anticlimax. antiaircraft, antiseptic, antibody
auto- self, same autopilot, autobiography, automobile, autofocus
circum- around, about circumvent, circumnavigate, circumscribe
co- with, together co-pilot, co-worker, co-exist, co-author
com-, con- together, with companion, commingle, contact, concentrate
contra-, contro- against, opposite contradict, contrast, contrary, controversy
de- down, off, away from devalue, deactivate, debug, degrade, deduce
dis- not, apart, away disappear, disagreeable, disbar, dissect
en- put into, cover with enclose, entangle, enslave, encase
ex- out of, from, former extract, exhale, excavate, ex-president
extra- beyond, outside, more than extracurricular, extramarital, extravagant
hetero- different, other heterosexual, heterodox, heterogeneous
homo-, homeo- same, alike homonym, homophone, homeostasis
hyper- over, more, beyond hyperactive, hypersensitive, hypercritical
il-, im-, in-, ir- not, without illegal, immoral, inconsiderate, irresponsible
in- in, into insert, inspection, infiltrate
inter- between, among intersect, interstellar, intervene, interpenetrate
intra-, intro- within, inside intravenous, intragalactic, introvert
macro- large, prominent macroeconomics, macrostructure, macrocosm
micro- very small microscope, microcosm, microbe
mono- one, single, alone monocle, monologue, monogamy, monotony
non- not, without nonentity, nonaggressive, nonessential, nonfiction
omni- all, every omniscient, omnivorous, omniscient, omnidirectional
post- after, behind postmortem, posterior, postscript, postoperative
pre-, pro- before, forward precede, predict, project, prologue
sub- under, lower submarine, subsidiary, substandard
sym-, syn- same time, together symmetry, symposium, synchronize, synapse
tele- from or over a distance telecommunications, telemedicine, television, telephone
trans- across, beyond, through transmit, transaction, translation, transfer
tri- three, every third tricycle, trimester, triangle, triathlon
un- not, lacking, opposite of unfinished, unskilled, ungraceful, unfriendly
uni- one, single unicorn, unicellular, unicycle, unilateral
up- to the top or north, higher/better upbeat, updo, upgrade, upload, uphill, upstage, upscale, up-tempo
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