Prefixes: Definition with Examples

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Prefixes: Definition with Examples

Prefixes are the letter/s which sit before a stem to make new words. These letters are also called affixes.

Affixes generally have no meaning by their own but can form meaningful words by sitting before/after the stems. In the case of prefixed words, affixes sit before the stems of the words.  

“A prefix is an affix which is placed before the stem of a word.” – Wilson (2011)
A prefix is “a letter or group of letters that is added at the beginning of a word to change its meaning.” – Merriam Webster.


  • Prefix = ‘fix’ is a stem and ‘pre’ is a prefix which changes the meaning of the stem and creates a new word.
  • Antibiotic
  • Awake
  • Symphony
  • Hemisphere

List of Common Prefixes:

Prefix Meaning Examples
a on
aboard (onboard)
asleep (in sleep)
arise (rise from)
awake (wake up)
atheist (not a theist)
apathy (without pathy)
abuse (bad use)
abnormal (not normal)
ad to adjoin (to join)
ante before antedate (before date)
anti against
opposite of
antiseptic (against septic)
anticlimax (opposite of climax)
auto self autobiography (self-biography)
bi two bilateral (two sides)
co with co-exist (exist with)
de down
detrain (down train)
di two dioxide (two oxides)
dia through diameter
dis not
disallowed (not allowed)
dishonor (opposite of honor)
en on
enact (on action)
encage (in the cage)
ex out of
extract (out of anything)
il opposite of illegal (opposite of legal)
im the opposite of impossible (opposite of possible)
in the opposite of inability (opposite of ability)
ir the opposite of irrational (opposite of rational)
inter within interschool (within the school)
fore before foretell (telling before)
hemi half hemisphere (half sphere)
homo like/same homogeneous (same species)
hyper beyond/over hypersensitive (oversensitive)
hypo under hypothesis (under thesis)
mal bad
malpractice (bad practice)
malnutrition (ill nutrition)
mis bad misconduct (bad conduct)
mono single monologue (single logue)
non not/opposite nonsense (opposite of sense)
post after postmodern (after modern)
pre before pretext (before text)
peri round perimeter (round meter)
re again regain (again gain)
semi half semifinal (half final)
sub backup/alternate subway (alternate way)
super over/beyond supernatural (beyond natural)
to this today (this day)
trans across transform (across form)
ultra beyond ultramodern (beyond modern)
un not/opposite unable (not able)
vice alternative of vice-captain (alternative of captain)


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