Glossary of Building Blocks of English

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1. a- (OE) ablaze, afoot

2. a- (G) atypical, asexual

an- anarchy
1. on, to, at, by

2. not, without
ad- (L) adjoin, adverb

a- ascribe

ac- accede

af- affix

ag- aggregate

at- attempt
to, toward
apo- (G) apology, apostrophe
off, away
be- (OE) bespeak, besiege
over, around
bio- (G) biography
com- (L) commotion

co- cohabit, coworker

col- collaborate

con- concede, conduct

cor- correlate, correspond
with, together
de- (L) depress, deform
dis- (L) disagree, dishonest

di- divert

dif- diffuse
away, apart, opposite of
epi- (G) epigraph, epidermis

ep- epoch
beside, upon
ex- (L) exchange, excavate

e- elongage, evaporate

ec- eccentric

ef- effluent, effuse
in- (L) inscribe, inhabit

il- illuminate

im- import, impart

ir- irradiate
in, into
in- (L) inflexible, indecent

ig- ignoble

il- illiterate, illegal

im- immodest, impatient

ir- irregular
mis- (OE) mistake, misspell
wrong, badly
over- (OE) overreach, overawe
para- (G) paragraph, paraphrase
pre- (L) premature
pro- (L) proclaim
re- (L) recover, return
again, with
syn- (G) synthesis, synonym

syl- syllalbe, syllogism

sym- symbiosis, symphony
together, with
un- (OE) unwilling,unethical
(1). a- (OE)

1. ashore
(= on/into the shore)

2. asleep


(2). a- (L)

1. amoral
(without morals)

(without tonal)

a va
(1). 1. place, where

(before some N make them into adv)

2. a state or process

(before some V to make them into words)

(2). not

(used before some adj)
ab- (L)

(away from what is normal)
off, away
(used before words or roots)
ad- (L)

(join toward, attack)
indicating direction or tendency
ambi- (L)

ambiguous, ambivalence, ambiance
both, around.
amphi- (G)

amphibian, amphibiou, amphitheater
both, on two sides
an- (G)

(without oxygen)

(without name)
not, without, lacking

(before roots or stems beginning with
a vowel or the letter h)
ante- (L)

1. antebellum
(before the war)

2. anteroom
(room located in front of another)
1. happening before

2. located in front of

(used before roots for 1. & 2)
anti- (G)

1. anti-Semitic, antislavery

2. anticoagulant, antifreeze

3. antiaircraft, antipersonnel

4. anticlimax, antihero, antiparticle

5. Antichrist, antipope

6. anticlerical
1. against, opposed to

2. preventing, counteracting, or working against

3. destorying or disabling

4. identical to in form or function, but lacking in some important ways

5. an antagonist or rival of

6. situated opposite

(used befoore N and adj 1-6)
apo- (G)
(a turn away, digression)
away, off, apart
aqua- (L)

aquaculture, aqualung, aquarium, aquatic,

aqueduct, aqueous, aquifer
auto- (G)

autocrat, autograph, autonomous, autonomy, autopsy

aut- (before a vowel)
baro- (G)

barograph, barometer, baroreceptor
be- (OE)

1. becloud
(make like a cloud, hard to see)

(treat someone as a friend)

2. bedecked
(decked or covered all over)

(covered with jewels)
1. to make, become, treat as

(make Verbs meaning)

2. covered all over, completely, all around

(before adj and V ending in -ed)
bi- (L)

1. biennial, bisect, bicentennial, bigamy, biped,

binoculars, bilateral, bipartisan, biweekly

2. biannual
(twice a year, every two years)
1. twice, two

2. twice a + -s, every two + -s.

(In some words, especially words referring to
time periods)
bio- (G)

biodegradable, biology, biosphere
centi (L)

(one-hundredth of liter)

(creature having one hundred feet)
hundredth, hundred

(used before roots)
chiro- (G)

chirography, chiropodist, chiropractor, chiromancy
circum- (L)

circuit, circuitous, circumcise, circumference,

circumnavigate, circumstance, circumvent,

circumlocution, circus
round, around
co- (L)

1. cochair, costar, coworker

2. copilot
1. joint, jointly, together

2. auxiliary, helping

1. collateral

2. colectomy
1. var. of com- before the letter of l

2. var. of colo- before a vowel
com- (L)

combine, compare, commingle
with, together with

(see co-, col-, con-, cor-)
con- (L)

convene, condone, connection
together with

(a variant spelling of com-)
contra- (L)

contraband, contraception, contradict, contrary,
against, opposite, opposing

another form of com- that is used before roots
beginning with r
counter- (ME)

counterattack, counteroffer, counterclockwise
against, counter to,opposed to
de- (L)

1. deplane
( = move down or off an airplane)

( = move or go down)

2. deflate
( = reverse the flow of air out of something)

( = reverse the positive, humanizing
1. motion or being carried down from, away, or off

2. reversing or undoing the effects of an action

3. taking out or removal of a thing

4. finishing or completeness of an action
deci- (L)

( = one-tenth of a bel)

( = one-tenth of a liter)

see the root dec-

(one-tenth the size of the unit named
by the second element of the compound)
dem- (G)

demagogue, democracy, demography
demi (French)

demigod, demitasse
demo (G)

democracy, demography

(like dem-)
people, population
di- (G)

diptych, dioxide
two, double
dia- (G)

diachronic, diagnosis, dialogue, dialysis,

diameter, diaphanous, diarrhea, diathermy
through, across,
from point to point; completely
dis- (L)

1. disagreement
(opposite of agreement)

2. disapprove
(not to approve)

(not honest)

(not obey)

3. disconnest
(to remove the connection of)

1. opposite of

2. not

3. reverse, remove
dys- (G)

dysentery, dyslexia, dyspepsia
ill, bad
electro- (New Latin)

(magnetism dveloped by an electric current)
electric or electricity


(compare im- 1)
a form of en- used before roots
beginning with b, p, and sometimes m.
en (L)

1. enrich
(to cause to be rich)

(to cause to be in a tomb)

2. encircle
(to restrict on all sides within a circle)
(used before adj or N to form V meaning)

1. to cause (a person or thing) to be in
(the place, condition, or state mentioned);
to keep in or place in

2. to restrict on all sides, completely
epi- (G)

1. epicenter

2. epidermis

3. epiphenomenon
1. on, upon, at

2. outer, exterior

3. accompanying, additional
eu- (G)

eugenics, eulogize, eulogy, euphemism,

euphoria, euthanasia
good, well

true, genuine

(centered on Europe)

(bureaucrat in the European Community)

Eur- (before a vowel)
Europe, Western Europe,
the European Community

(used with roots)
ex- (L)

exclude, exhale, exit, export, extract

2. ex-member
(former member)
1. out, out of, away from, forth

2. former, formerly having been
exo- (G)


ex- (before a vowel)
outside, outer, external
extra- (L)

(outside the galaxy)

(beyond the senses)
outside of, beyond
fore- (OE)

1. forecast
(prediction before weather comes)

(a taste before the event takes place)

(to warn ahead of time)

2. forehead
(front of the head)

3. foref
(used before N)

1. before (in space, time, condition, etc)

2. front

3. preceding

4. superior
hemo- or hema- (G)

hemoglobin, hemophilia, hemorrhage, hemorrhoid

hem- (before a vowel)
hyper- (G)

1. hypercritical
(overly critical)

(inflation that is unusual or too high)

compare super-

2. hypertext
(text or information that the users can gain access
to in the
1. excessive; overly; too much; unusual

(before N and adj)

2. in computer words to refer to information
that is linked to data on the display
hypo- (G)

(under the skin)

(heat or temperature below what it should be)

hyp- (before a vowel)
under, below

(used before roots)

1. another form of in-2

(that cannot be easily read)

2. another form of in-1

(il + -luminate) (light)
(shine on or into)
(used before roots beginning with l)

1. not

2. in, into

another form of in-

1. impossible
(that is not possibe)

2. immigrate
(travel in or into)
(used before roots beginning with p, b, and m)

1. not

2. in, into

1. (L)

(not accurate)

(not capable)

(not direct)

see im-, il-, ir-

2. (OE)

(money coming in)

1. not

(used before adj)

2. in; into; on

(used before V and N)
inter- (L)

(between cities)

(between or among departments)
between, among
intra- (L)

(within species)

(compare intro-, inter-)
intro- (L)

intro- + duce (lead)
(bring inside or within to meet someone)

intro + version (a turning)
(a turning inside or within)

compar intra-
inside, within

another form of in-

1. irradiate

2. irreducible
used before roots beginning with r
iso- (G)


(scientific or chemical words)
kilo- (G)

(one thousand meters)

(one thousand watts)


(used before quantities)
mal- (L)

maladroit, malcontent, malfunction
bad; wrongful; ill


(contraction of word maximum)
very, large or long in comparison with
others of its kind
mega- (G)

1. megalith
(extremely large stone or rock)

(a huge structure)

2. megahertz
(one million hertz)

(one million tons)

3. megabucks
(a great deal
1. extremely large, huge

2. one million of the units of (the base root or word)

3. very large quantities or amounts

4. things that are extraordinary examples of their kind
meta- (G)

metabolism, metamorphosis, metaphor, metaphysics
after, along with, beyond, among, behind
micro- (L)

1. microorganism
(very small living creature)

2. microhabitat, microeconomics

3. microfilm

4. microgram

micr- (before a vowel)
1. small or very samll in comparison with
others of its kind

2. restricted in scope

3. containing or dealing with texts that require
enlargement to be read

4. one millionth
mid- (OE)

mid-day; mid-Victorian; mid-twentieth century.
bing at or near the middle point of
milli- (L)

1. millipede
milli- + -pede (foot)
(a small creature with very manylegs)

2. millimeter
(1/1000 of a meter)
1. one thousand

2. in the metric system:
equal to 1/1000 of the unit mentioned

contraction of the minimum

1. of a small or reduced size in comparison with
others of its kind

2. miniboom
mini + boom (economic upturn)
(short-lived economic boom)

1. minicar, minigun

2. limited in scope, intensity, or duration

3. of clothing; short; not reaching the knee
mis- (OE)

1. mistrial
(trial conducted improperly)

(something incorrectly printed)

(fail to fire properly)

2. mistrust
(the opposite of trust)
used before N, V and adj

1. mistaken; wrong; wrongly; incorrectly

2. the opposite of
mono- (G)

monarch, monastery, monochrome, monocle,

monogamy, monogram, monograph, monolingual,

monolith, monologue, mononucleosis, monopoly,

monopterous, monorail, monosyllable, monotonous
one, single, lone
multi- (L)

(having many colors)

(composed of many vitamins)
many, much, multiple, many times, more than one,
composed of many like parts, in many respects
neo- (G)

(colonialism that has been revived)

(of a recent Stone Age)

ne- (before a vowel)
new, recent, revived, changed
neuro- (G)

neurology, neurosurgery
nerve, nerves, nervous system
non- (L)

1. nonviolent

2. nonpayment
(failure to pay)

3. nonbook, noncandidate, nonevent

1. means a simple negative
or absence of something

(before adj and adv)

2. means the failure of such action

(before a N of action)

3. the thing mentioned
is not true, real or worthy of the name

(before a N)
ob- (L)

1. toward, to, on, over, against

(used before roots)
octa- (G)

(eight-sides figure)
omni- (L)

(in all directions)
ortho- (G)

(correct writing)

(dentistry dealing with straightening teeth)

(correction of improper bone structure from childhood)
straight, upright, right, correct
out- (OE)

1. outbid, outdo, outlast

2. outcast, outcome, outside
1. going, beyond, surpassing,
or outdoing (the action of the verb)

(used before V)

2. outside, out

(before N to form certain compounds)
over- (OE)

1. overboard, overcoat, overhang, overlord, overthrow

2. overact
(to act too much)

(to crowd too many people or things into)

(too aggressive)

1. the same as the adv or adj over,

2. over the limit; to excess; too much

3. outer

(as when referring to an outer covering)
pan- (G)

1. panorama, pantheism

2. Pan-American,

Pan- + hellenic (Greek)
(all Greeks united in one group)

(all the people of Slavic background united)
1. all

2. the union of all branches of a group
(1). Para- (G)

1. parabola, paragraph

2. prardox

3. paranoia

4. paralegal, paraprofessional

par- (before a vowel)

(2). para- (parachute)

(1).1. at or to one side of, beside, side by side

2. beyond, past, by

3. abnormal, defective

4. before names of jobs or occupations:
ancilliary, subsidiary, assisting

(2). used to form compounds that refer to
persons or things that use parachutes or
that are landed by parachute
penta- (G)

(five-sided figure)
per- (L)

(a person completely turned away from the normal)

(thoroughly or completely done)
through, thoroughly, completely, very

(used before roots)
peri- (G)

1. perimeter
(distance around an area)

(instrument for looking around oneself)

2. pericardium
(a sac surrounding the heart)

3. perihelion
(point of an orbit nearest to th
(used before roots)

1. about, around

2. enclosing, surrounding

3. near
1. petro- (G)

(the study of rocks or stone)

2. petro- (petroleum)

1. rock, stone

2. used to form compounds
photo- (G)

1. photobiology,

(formation of carbohydrates in plants from
exposure to light)

2. photocopy
1. light

2. photographic, photograph
poly- (G)

(the custom of having many husbands)

(speaking many languages)
mach, many
post- (L)

(after the industrial age)

(after the war)
after (in time), following (some event);
behind, at the rear or end of
pre- (L)

1. predict
(say in advance of something)

(surpassing or being more than eminent)

(something written in front of a book)

2. preboard
(to board an airplane before t
1. before, in front of, prior to, in advance of,
being more than, surpassing

2. used before V to form new V that refer to
an activity taking place before or instead of
the usual occurrence of the same activity

3. used in forming adj that refer to a period of time
before the event, period, person, etc.,
mentioned in the root
(1). pro- (L)

1. proceed, progress, prominent, promote, propose

2. procreate, produce

3. pronoun

4. pro-choice
(in favor of allowing of a choice to be made
regarding abortions)

(1). 1. forward, forward movement or location; advancement

2. bringing into existance

(used before roots and words) for 2. and 3.

3. in place of

4. favoring the group, interests, course of action, etc.,
named by the N; calling for the interests named by the N

(used to form adj)

(2). 1. before, beforehand, in front of

2. primitive or early form
proto- (G)

protolithic, prototype, protoplasm

prot- before a vowel
first, foremost, earliest form of
pseudo- (G)

1. pseudointellectual
(a person pretending to be an intellectual)

2. pseudocarp
(a fish closely resembling a carp)

(a part of an animal that closely resembles a foot)

1. false, pretended, unreal

2. closely or deceptively resembling
psycho- (G)

parapsychology, psychedelic, psychiatry, psychic,

psychological, psychology, psychopath, psychosis,

soul, mind
pyro- (G)

pyromaniac, pyrotechnics
fire, heat, high temperature
quasi- (L)

1. quasi-scientific, quasiparticle, quasi-stellar
as if, as though

1. having some of the features but not all;
resembling; almost the same as

(used before adj and N)
radio- (L) radius

1. rediometer

2. radiolocation, radiotelephone

3. radioactivity, radiocarbon

4. radiograph, radiotherapy
beam, ray

1. radiant energy

(used before roots and N)

2. radio waves

3. the giving off of rays as a result of
the breakup of atomic nuclei

4. X rays
re- (L)

(fall back)

(turn back)

2. rebel, remove, respond, restore, revoke

3.recapture, reoccur, repossess, retype

(put another sole on a shoe)
1. action in a backward direction

(used before roots and sometimes words
to form V and N)

2. showing action in answer to or intended to
undo or reverse a situation

(to form V or N)

3. showing action that is done over;

the outcome of the original action was
in some way not enough or not long lasting;

the performance of the new action brings back
an earlier state of affairs

(to form V or N)
retro- (L)

(proceed backward)

back, backward
self- (OE)

1. self-control
(control of oneself)

self-government, self-help, self-portrait

2. self-adhesive, a self-loading gun, self-study
1. something that one does by oneself or to oneself

(before N)

2. an action that is done wihout assistance

(before adj and N)
semi- (L)

1. semiannual, semicircle

2. semiautomatic, semidetached, semiformal

3. semiannual
1. half

2. partially, partly, somewhat

3. happening or occuring twice in
(a certain length of time)
sex- (L)

(having six parts or divisions)
socio- (L)

(social statistics)

social, sociological, society

(used before roots amd sometimes words)
step- (OE)

to name a member of a family related
by the remarriage of a parent and not by blood

(used before words)

eg. when my father married his second wife,
she already had a son who became my stepbrother.
sub- (L)

1.subsoil, subway

2. subalpine, subtropical

3. subhuman, subteen

4. subcommittee, subplot

sometimes this prefix is spelled as:

su-, suc-, suf, sug,
sum-, su
1. under, below, beneath

2. just ouside of, near

3. less than, not quite

4. secondary, at a lower point in a hierarchy
super- (L)

1. superimpose, superstructure, superficial

2. superconductivity, superman, supercomputer,

superhighway, superhuman, supercritical, supercool
1. above, beyond; above or over (another);
situated or located over

2. an individual, thing, or property
that surpasses customary or normal amounts or levels,

as being larger, more powerful,
or having something to a great degree

or too great a degree
supra- (L)

supraorbital, supranational

Compare super-
above, over; beyond the limits of
sur- (French)

surcharge, surname, surrender
over, above, in addition

another form of the prefix syn-

symbol, symphony, symmetry
(before roots beginning with b, p, m)
syn- (G)

synchronous, idiosyncrasy, photosynthesis, synagogue

synchronize, synonym, synthesis

See sym-
with, together
tele- (G)

1. telegraph, telekinesis, teletypewriter

2. telegenic, telethon

tel- before a vowel

1. reaching over a distance,

carried out between
two remote points, performed

or operating through
electronic transmissions

(used before roots and sometimes words)

2. something that appears or could appear on television
trans- (L)

1. transfer, transmit, transplant

2. transform, transmute

3. transnational, trans-Siberian
across, through

1. refer to movement or carrying from
one place to another

(used before roots)

2. complete change

3. crossing, going beyond, on the other side of
(the place or thing named)

(before roots to form adj)
tri- (L)

triatomic, trilateral
ultra- (L)

1. ultraviolet

2. ultraleft, ultramodern

3. ultralight

4. ultramicroscope, ultrasound, ultrastructure
1. located, beyond, on the far side of

2. carrying to the furthest degree possible,
on the fringe of

3. extremely

4. going beyond normal or customary bounds or limits
un- (OE)

1. unfair, unfairly, unfairness, unfelt,

unseen, unfitting, unformed, unheard of;

unrest; unemployment

2. unbend, uncork, unfasten

3. unloose
(let loose with force)
1. not; negative or opposite force

(used freely to form adj and the adv
and N formed from these adj)

2. a reversal of some action or state, or a removal,
a taking away, or a release

3. before some V to intensify the meaning
under- (OE)

1.underbrush, undertow

2. undersheriff, understudy

3. undersized

4. underfed
1. a place or situation below or beneath

2. lower in grade, rank or dignity

3. of lesser degree, extent, or amount

(before adj)

4. not showing enough, too little
vice- (L)

1. viceroy

vice-chancellor, vice-chairman
in place of, instead of

1. deputy; in the titles of officials who serve
in the absence of the official names
by the base word

(used before roots and sometimes words)

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