prefix

1 of 3

verb

pre·​fix
prefixed; prefixing; prefixes

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

2 of 3

noun

pre·​fix ˈprē-ˌfiks How to pronounce prefix (audio)
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
ˈprē-ˌfik-səl How to pronounce prefix (audio)
prē-ˈfik-
adjective

prefix

3 of 3

adjective

pre·​fix ˈprē-ˌfiks How to pronounce prefix (audio)
: characterized by placement of an operator before its operand or before its two operands if it is a binary operator compare infix, postfix

Did you know?

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.

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.”
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
Each branch and tip is made from premium PVC, and 300 LED warm lights are prefixed to the body of the tree for hassle-free assembly. Stephanie Osmanski, Better Homes & Gardens, 8 Nov. 2023 There is a tendency to prefix anything dramatic, unusual or super with…well, the prefix ‘super,’ which is partly why the Moon is called super twice more this year. Ian Vorster, Discover Magazine, 10 Aug. 2014 In this case, the length of the clue is prefixed by the hash (#) symbol. Quanta Magazine, 21 Dec. 2018
Noun
The main criticism is that the approach relies mostly on vocabulary and ignores word sounds and structures, such as the stems, prefixes and suffixes that make up a word. Kurt Kleiner, Discover Magazine, 16 Feb. 2024 It is formed using Russian’s ability to add a prefix to almost any word in order to change its meaning. Merve Emre, The New York Review of Books, 13 Feb. 2024 Today’s groups are... Yellow group — monotonous sounds Green group — boats Blue group — captains Purple group — prefixes with -cracy What Are Today’s Connections Answers? Spoiler alert! Kris Holt, Forbes, 10 Feb. 2024 And despite various prefixes suggesting a specific provenance for the dish, red rice proliferated up and down the Lowcountry coast, from South Carolina to north Florida. Emily Horton, Charlotte Observer, 31 Jan. 2024 The prefix Special Ops leaves open the possibility of more shows within this world, similar to the growing family tree of Yellowstone spin-offs. Christian Holub, EW.com, 8 June 2023 Early registration for the domains run as high as $13,000 a year, depending on the prefix. Chris Morris, Fortune, 1 Nov. 2023 This safeguard is removed as a result of the prefix truncation, which realigns sequence numbers to allow for message injection in the first place. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, 19 Dec. 2023 Early registration for the domains runs as high as $13,000 a year, depending on the prefix but, starting Dec. 5, Google will expand access and costs will likely come down for less-prime spots. Eamon Barrett, Fortune, 3 Nov. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'prefix.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near prefix

Cite this Entry

“Prefix.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prefix. Accessed 12 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

prefix

1 of 2 verb
pre·​fix ˈprē-ˌfiks How to pronounce prefix (audio)
prē-ˈfiks
: to place in front
especially : to add as a prefix
prefix a syllable to a word

prefix

2 of 2 noun
pre·​fix ˈprē-ˌfiks How to pronounce prefix (audio)
: a letter or group of letters that comes at the beginning of a word and has a meaning of its own

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