prefix

verb
pre·​fix
prefixed; prefixing; prefixes

Definition of prefix

 (Entry 1 of 3)

transitive verb

1 \ (ˌ)prē-​ˈfiks How to pronounce prefix (audio) \ : to fix or appoint beforehand
2 \ ˈprē-​ˌfiks How to pronounce prefix (audio) , prē-​ˈfiks \ [partly from prefix entry 2] : to place in front especially : to add as a prefix prefix a syllable to a word

prefix

noun
pre·​fix | \ ˈprē-ˌfiks How to pronounce prefix (audio) \

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 How to pronounce prefix (audio) \

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 How to pronounce prefixal (audio) , 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: Verb In this case, the length of the clue is prefixed by the hash (#) symbol. Quanta Magazine, "Quanta’s Science and Math Crossword Puzzle," 21 Dec. 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun GLAAD’s Megan Townsend, who helps advise media outlets on how to cover the bisexual community, says that the term bisexual can be just as inclusive, and that the prefix bi- is misleading. Time, "What Does 'Pansexual' Mean? Behind the Rise of the Word," 7 Jan. 2020 Congress passed a law last year requiring a business with multi-phone systems (like offices and hotels) to ensure 911 can be called without a prefix number. Sharon Coolidge, USA TODAY, "Cincinnati family sues city after son's 911 calls failed to save him," 13 Aug. 2019 Congress passed a law last year requiring a business with multi-phone systems (like offices and hotels) to ensure 911 can be called without a prefix number. Sharon Coolidge, USA TODAY, "Cincinnati family sues city after son's 911 calls failed to save him," 13 Aug. 2019 The anonymizing technique used by Google and Tencent—crunching URLs into hashes and comparing their prefixes to blacklists locally—is imperfect. Matthew De Silva, Quartz, "Apple’s data sharing with firms tied to the Chinese government may endanger dissidents," 16 Oct. 2019 Unlike with celecoxib, the prefix shouldn’t hark back to the name-brand drug. Los Angeles Times, "Column: Wonder where generic drug names come from? Two women in Chicago, that’s where," 23 July 2019 Congress passed a law last year requiring a business with multi-phone systems (like offices and hotels) to ensure 911 can be called without a prefix number. Sharon Coolidge, USA TODAY, "Cincinnati family sues city after son's 911 calls failed to save him," 13 Aug. 2019 Congress passed a law last year requiring a business with multi-phone systems (like offices and hotels) to ensure 911 can be called without a prefix number. Sharon Coolidge, USA TODAY, "Cincinnati family sues city after son's 911 calls failed to save him," 13 Aug. 2019 Congress passed a law last year requiring a business with multi-phone systems (like offices and hotels) to ensure 911 can be called without a prefix number. Sharon Coolidge, USA TODAY, "Cincinnati family sues city after son's 911 calls failed to save him," 13 Aug. 2019

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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Time Traveler for prefix

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for prefix

Cite this Entry

“Prefix.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prefix. Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

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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
How to pronounce prefix (audio)

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
old-fashioned : a title (such as "Mr." or "Dr.") that is used before a person's name

prefix

noun
pre·​fix | \ ˈprē-ˌfiks How to pronounce prefix (audio) \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on prefix

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with prefix

Spanish Central: Translation of prefix

Nglish: Translation of prefix for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of prefix for Arabic Speakers

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