Greek Prefixes And Their Meaning (with Examples)

The Greek prefixesThey are the set of derivative morphemes that come before the lexeme (word root) and that have their origin in the Greek language. A derivative morpheme is used to create new words. In this sense, Greek was one of the most prestigious languages ​​in the ancient world.

During the Renaissance many Greek prefixes were incorporated not only into Spanish, but also into other European languages. Today, a large number of neologisms (new words) from the world of science and technology are formed using these Greek prefixes. This is the case of the words “hyperlink ”and“ metadata ”.

Greek prefixes

Greek prefixes come from prepositions like “a” (outside) and “peri” (around); from pronouns like “self” (self) and “hetero”, (other); and of adverbs like “endo” (inside) and “exo” (outside). 

In traditional grammar, prefixes derived from prepositions were separable or inseparable; the Royal Academy Grammar suppressed this in 1917.  

Greek prefixes and their meaning

-a / an (negation, lack, deprivation, lack of)

– Aphonia (loss of voice).

– Amorphous (without defined shape).

– Anomaly (deviation from what is normal, regular, natural or foreseeable).

-ana (up, back, repeat and off)

– Anachronism (belonging to or appropriate to a period other than the one in which it exists, especially something notoriously old-fashioned).

– Anaphora (in rhetoric: repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses).

– Anagram (a word, phrase or name formed by rearranging the letters of another word, phrase or name) –

-anf / anfi (both sides, around, around)

– Amphibian (class of animals that live their lives in and out of water).

– Anfora (jug with two handles or handles that has an oval body).

– Amphineurus (class of bilaterally symmetrical marine mollusks that have two ventral and two lateral nerve cords).

-anti (displeasure, opposition, instead of)

– Antithesis (discursive resource that refers to the juxtaposition of opposite or contrasting ideas).

– Antiseptic (product or substance that destroys germs).

– Antipyretic (product or drug that reduces fever).

-apo (away from, out of, deprivation, separation)

– Apocope (suppression of sounds at the end of a word).

– Apophysis (protruding part of a bone used as a joint or muscle embedment).

– Apostate (someone who has publicly abandoned their religion).

-cat / cata (down, down, fall)

– Chair (elevated seat from where classes were taught in old universities).

– Catacomb (series of underground passages and rooms where bodies were buried in the past).

– Catabolism (sequences of reactions catalyzed by enzymes by which relatively large molecules in living cells break down or degrade).

-Crypto (hidden)

– Cryptogamist (plant that has hidden flowers).

– Cryptography (art of writing a message with hidden codes).

– Cryptorchidism (genitalia that are hidden or absent).

-Crono (time, season of the year)

– Chronology (series of events ordered as they developed over time).

– Chronophobia (irrational fear of the passage of time).

– Stopwatch (tool to measure time with great precision).

-di (two)

– Disílabo (word with two syllables).

– Diphthong (two vowels in a row that are pronounced as one syllable).

– Dilemma (situation in which a difficult choice has to be made between two different things).

-day (by means of, through, between, separation)

– Diameter (any straight line segment that passes through the center of the circle and whose end points lie on the circle).

– Diagonal (something with slanted lines or a line that connects one corner to the far corner).

– Diaphragm (dome-shaped muscular partition that separates the thorax from the abdomen in mammals).

-dis (impossibility, difficulty, bad, dislike, disturbance)

– Dyspnoea (shortness of breath).

– Dyspepsia (difficult digestion).

– Dysphagia (difficulty eating).

-endo (inside, inside, internal)

– Endogenous (that develops or originates within an organism or part of an organism).

– Endothermic (process or reaction in which the system absorbs energy from its environment, generally in the form of heat).

– Endoscopy (a non-surgical procedure used to examine a person’s digestive tract, using a flexible tube with a light and a camera attached to it).

-epi (above, above posteriority)

– Epidermis (the non-vascular and non-sensitive outer layer of the skin).

– Epicenter (a point, directly above the true center of disturbance, from which the shock waves of an earthquake apparently radiate).

– Epigastrium (upper and middle part of the abdomen, on the stomach).

-exo (from, out of)

– Exoskeleton (a hard covering that supports and protects the bodies of some types of animals).

– Exophthalmos (abnormal protrusion of one or both eyes).

– Exoplanet (a planet outside the solar system that orbits a star).

-Phagus (that eats, that feeds on)

– Phagocytosis (which feeds by phagocytosis).

– Phagocyte (cell present in the blood that feeds on particles through phagocytosis).

-hiper (excess, superiority)

– Hypertension (abnormally high blood pressure).

– Hyperactive (abnormally or extremely active).

– Hypertrophy (enlargement of the muscle in response to a greater amount of time under tension).

-meta (beyond, after)

– Metaphysics (branch of philosophy responsible for the study of existence).

– Metalanguage (a language used to describe or analyze another language, known as an object language).

– Metadata (data set that describes and provides information about other data).

-palin (repetition or recurrence)

– Palindrome (word, phrase or sequence that says the same backwards as forwards).

– Palingenesis (rebirth or regeneration of a living being after real or apparent death).

– Palinmnesis ( anterograde memory : able to recall events that occurred in the remote past but cannot acquire new memories).

-panto (all)

– Pantophobia (fear of everything).

– Pantometer (instrument that allows to measure all kinds of angles and distances).

– Pantocrator (the one who governs everything, title of Christ represented as the ruler of the universe, especially in the decoration of the Byzantine Church).

-peri (around, near)

– Peripheral (external limits or edge of an area or object).

– Perinatology (branch of obstetrics that deals with the period of time around childbirth).

– Pericardium (membrane that encloses the heart, consisting of an outer fibrous layer and a double inner layer of serous membrane).

-poli (many, abundance)

– Multifaceted (showing many facets or aspects).

– Polyvalent (which has many values, which exhibits more than one valence).

– Polyglot (a person who knows and can use several languages).

-sin (with, simultaneity, at the same time)

– Symphony (long musical composition for orchestra, which usually consists of several movements, at least one of which is, generally, a sonata).

– Synchrony (action, development or simultaneous occurrence).

– Syncretism (formation of new religious or cultural ideas from multiple different sources, often contradictory sources).

-xeno (foreign, foreign, strange)

– Xenomania (extreme passion for foreign things, customs or people, a mania for foreigners).

– Xenophilia (attraction or admiration towards foreigners or towards anything foreign or strange).

– Xenophobia (intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries).

-zoo (animal, related to the animal world )

– Zoology (science in charge of studying animals).

– Zootherapy (therapy in which animals intervene as emotional help).

– Zoophobia (phobia consisting of irrational fear of animals).


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