1

prefix

verb pre·fix
Updated on: 15 Nov 2017

Definition of prefix

transitive verb
1 play \(ˌ)prē-ˈfiks\ : to fix or appoint beforehand
2 play \ˈprē-ˌfiks, prē-ˈfiks\
[partly from 2prefix]
: to place in front; especially : to add as a prefix
  • prefix a syllable to a word

Examples of prefix in a Sentence

  1. Prefix “un” to “do” to form the word “undo.”

  2. The cost of the item was prefixed by a dollar sign.

Origin and Etymology of prefix

Middle English, from Middle French prefixer, from Latin praefixus

Other Grammar and Linguistics Terms


2

prefix

noun pre·fix \ ˈprē-ˌfiks \

Definition of prefix

1 : an affix attached to the beginning of a word, base, or phrase and serving to produce a derivative word or an inflectional form — compare suffix
2 : a title used before a person's name

prefixal

play \ˈprē-ˌfik-səl, prē-ˈfik-\ adjective

Examples of prefix in a Sentence

  1. Add the prefix “re-” to form the words “retell” and “recall.”

Recent Examples of prefix from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'prefix.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

What are prefixes, suffixes, and combining forms?

Prefixes and suffixes are both kinds of affixes. That is, they are word parts that attach to the beginning or end of a word or word base (a word stripped down to its simplest form) to produce a related word or an inflectional form of a word. Examples are in- in informal and both re- and -ing in reporting.

A third kind of affix is called an infix. Infixes are inserted into a word or word base. English uses very few infixes, but a couple examples are the plural-making s in words like cupsful and passersby, and various swear words, like damn in informal constructions like guaran-damn-tee.

A combining form is a form of a word that only appears as part of another word. There are a number of kinds of combining forms, each classified by what kind of word results when the form is used. For example, -wise in clockwise is an adverb combining form; -like in birdlike is an adjective combining form; -graph in photograph is a noun combining form; and -lyze in electrolyze is a verb combining form.

Combining forms are similar to affixes but can have a bit more lexical substance to them. Unlike affixes, combining forms are substantial enough to form a word simply by connecting to an affix, such as when the combining form cephal- joins with the suffix -ic to form cephalic. A combining form can also differ from an affix in its being derived from an independent word. For example, para- is a combining form in the word paratrooper because in that word it represents the word parachute. Para- is a prefix, however, in the words paranormal and paramedic. A combining form can also be distinguished historically from an affix by the fact that it is borrowed from another language in which it is descriptively a word or a combining form, such as the French mal giving English the mal- in malfunction.

Origin and Etymology of prefix

New Latin praefixum, from Latin, neuter of praefixus, past participle of praefigere to fasten before, from prae- + figere to fasten — more at fix

Other Grammar and Linguistics Terms


3

prefix

adjective pre·fix \ ˈprē-ˌfiks \

Definition of prefix

: characterized by placement of an operator before its operand or before its two operands if it is a binary operator — compare infix, postfix

First Known Use of prefix

1971


PREFIX Defined for English Language Learners

prefix

verb

Definition of prefix for English Language Learners

  • : to add a letter, number, or symbol at the beginning of a word or number


prefix

noun

Definition of prefix for English Language Learners

  • : a letter or group of letters that is added at the beginning of a word to change its meaning

  • : a title (such as “Mr.” or “Dr.”) that is used before a person's name


PREFIX Defined for Kids

prefix

noun pre·fix \ ˈprē-ˌfiks \

Definition of prefix for Students

: a letter or group of letters that comes at the beginning of a word and has its own meaning


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up prefix? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

of or relating to dancing

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu-jedi-training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!