prefix

verb
pre·fix
prefixed; prefixing; prefixes

Definition of prefix 

(Entry 1 of 3)

transitive verb

1 \(ˌ)prē-ˈfiks \ : to fix or appoint beforehand

2 \ˈprē-ˌfiks, prē-ˈfiks \ [ partly from 2prefix ] : to place in front especially : to add as a prefix prefix a syllable to a word

prefix

noun
pre·fix | \ˈprē-ˌfiks \

Definition of prefix (Entry 2 of 3)

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

prefix

adjective
pre·fix | \ˈprē-ˌfiks \

Definition of prefix (Entry 3 of 3)

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

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Other Words from prefix

Noun

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

What are prefixes, suffixes, and combining forms?

Noun

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.

Examples of prefix in a Sentence

Verb

Prefix “un” to “do” to form the word “undo.” The cost of the item was prefixed by a dollar sign.

Noun

Add the prefix “re-” to form the words “retell” and “recall.”
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Each area code is assigned 792 prefixes, which contain 10,000 phone numbers each. Marco Santana, OrlandoSentinel.com, "689 area code could be added to Central Florida," 29 June 2018 Following the morning exercise, the teacher led a grammar lesson on word prefixes and awarded students points on a touch-screen whiteboard for providing correct answers to her questions. Michelle Hackman, WSJ, "Betsy DeVos’s School-Safety Panel Hits the Road—and Meets Criticism," 31 May 2018 The man who has the honor to carry the prefix, United States Attorney General before his name, Jeff Sessions, is indeed the most of dangerous man in America. Fox News, "Netanyahu on Israel's relationship with the Arab world," 20 May 2018 That is one of four hallmarks of the disorder, hence the prefix tetra-, from the Greek for four. Tom Avril, Philly.com, "Infant heart surgery is just the start of lifelong issues. Doctors are developing new ways to cope," 9 Mar. 2018 The next three are a prefix assigned to a switch within the area code. Jo Craven Mcginty, WSJ, "Losing Your Old Area Code? You’re Not Alone," 4 Aug. 2017 TorMoil, as the flaw has been dubbed by its discoverer, is triggered when users click on links that begin with file:// rather than the more common https:// and http:// address prefixes. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Critical Tor flaw leaks users’ real IP address—update now," 3 Nov. 2017 In the early days of paleontology, slapping a –saurus on a Greek or Latin prefix was all that was necessary. Brian Switek, Smithsonian, "From “T. Rex” to “Pantydraco”: How Dinosaurs Get Their Names," 20 Mar. 2017 There are times when the prefix seems harmless, even charming. Katy Waldman, Slate Magazine, "How Franken- Lurched Its Way Into Our Lexicon," 6 Jan. 2017

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.

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First Known Use of prefix

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1646, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1971, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for prefix

Verb

Middle English, from Middle French prefixer, from Latin praefixus

Noun

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

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Statistics for prefix

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Time Traveler for prefix

The first known use of prefix was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for prefix

prefix

verb

English Language Learners Definition of prefix

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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

prefix

noun

English Language Learners Definition of prefix (Entry 2 of 2)

: 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

noun
pre·fix | \ˈprē-ˌfiks \

Kids Definition of prefix

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

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Comments on prefix

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