Lexicology and phraseology: suffixes and prefixes



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LEXICOLOGY AND PHRASEOLOGY: SUFFIXES AND PREFIXES
The lexical affixes and word elements listed below are taken from the websites of Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary http://www.oxfordadvancedlearnersdictionary.com/, Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English http://www.ldoceonline.com/, Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary http://dictionary.cambridge.org/Default.asp?dict=CALD, Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners http://www.macmillandictionary.com/ and Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary http://learnersdictionary.com/. Only those affixes are listed here that can be found in the readings taken from Word Structure and Vocabulary. NOTE: Some of the items are word elements rather than affixes.
a-

prefix


(in nouns, adjectives and adverbs) not; without

atheist atypical asexually
a prefix

1 in a particular condition or way:



aloud

alive (=living)

with nerves all a-tingle (=tingling)

2 old use in, to, at, or on something:



abed (=in bed)

afar (=far away)
--- [not in Cambridge]
a-

prefix British English pronunciation: a- /ə/ British English pronunciation: a- /eɪ/

1. without or not: used with some adjectives and adverbs

asexual (=not sexual)

atypically (=not typically)
1 a-

Pronounced:

/ə/


Function:

prefix


Meaning:

1 : on : in : at ▪ abed


2 : in (such) a state or condition ▪ afire
3 : in (such) a manner ▪ aloud
4 old-fashioned : in the act or process of ▪ gone a-hunting [=gone hunting]

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-able, -ible suffix (in adjectives)

1 that can or must be



calculable

taxable

2 having the quality of



fashionable

comfortable

changeable
-able suffix also -ible [in adjectives]

1 that you can do something to



washable (=it can be washed)

unbreakable (=it cannot be broken)

loveable (=easy to love)

2 having a particular quality or condition



knowledgeable (=knowing a lot)

comfortable

-ible [in adjectives]

another form of the suffix -able:

irresistible

visible
-able suffix (CAN BE) (also ible)

added to verbs to form adjectives which mean able to receive the action of the stated verb



breakable

washable

moveable

-able suffix (WORTH BEING) (also ible)

added to verbs to form adjectives which mean worth receiving the action of the stated verb



an admirable person

an acceptable answer

-ible suffix (also -able)

used to form adjectives meaning 'able to be'



convertible

accessible

permissible
-able suffix

1 used with many verbs to make adjectives describing something that can be done:
enjoyable (=that people can enjoy)
breakable (=that is easy to break)

2 used with some nouns to make adjectives describing a quality something or someone has:
knowledgeable
comfortable
-able also -ible

Function:

adjective suffix



Meaning:

1 : fit for or worthy of being ▪ lovable ▪ collectible

2 : likely to or capable of ▪ breakable ▪ perishable

3 : having a certain quality ▪ knowledgeable ▪ peaceable


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-age suffix (in nouns)

1 the action or result of



breakage

2 a state or condition of



bondage

3 a set or group of



baggage

4 an amount of



mileage

5 the cost of



postage

6 a place where



anchorage
--- [not in Longman]
-age suffix (ACTION )

used to form nouns which refer to the action or result of something



blockage

shrinkage

wastage

All breakages must be paid for.

-age suffix (STATE)
used to form nouns which refer to a state or condition
bondage
marriage
shortage

-age suffix (PLACE)
used to form nouns which are names of places
orphanage
vicarage
--- [not in Macmillan]
-age

Pronounced:

/ɪʤ/


Function:

noun suffix



Meaning:

1 : action, process, or result of ▪ coverage ▪ breakage ▪ wastage

2 : total amount or collection ▪ mileage ▪ acreage

3 : house or place of ▪ orphanage ▪ brokerage

4 : state, status, or condition of ▪ bondage ▪ blockage

5 : fee or charge ▪ postage


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agro- (also agri-) combining form (in nouns, adjectives and adverbs) connected with farming: agro-industry · agriculture
agro- prefix also agri- relating to farming

agrobiology
--- [not in Cambridge]
--- [not in Macmillan]
--- [not in Merriam-Webster’s]
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-al [although not shown in dictionaries, the form -ial is a variant of this suffix, e.g. ministerial]
-al suffix

1 (in adjectives)

connected with

magical

verbal see also -ally

2 (in nouns)

a process or state of

survival
--- [not in Longman]
-al suffix
used to add the meaning 'connected with' to adjectives, or 'the action of' to nouns:
medical (= connected with medicine)
approval (= the act of approving)
--- [not in Macmillan]
1 -al

Function:

adjective suffix



Meaning:

: of, relating to, or characterized by ▪ directional ▪ fictional ▪ operational

2 -al

Function:

noun suffix



Meaning:

: action : process ▪ rehearsal ▪ withdrawal
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-ian, -an suffix

1 (in nouns and adjectives)

from; typical of

Bostonian

Brazilian

Shakespearian

Libran

2 (in nouns)

a specialist in

mathematician
-an suffix also -ean -ian

1 [in adjectives and nouns] someone or something of, from, or connected with a particular thing, place, or person



suburban

Jamesian

2 [in nouns] someone skilled in or studying a particular subject



a historian (=someone who studies history)
-an suffix (also -ean , also -ian)

connected with or belonging to the stated place, group or type



an American

a Canadian

a Korean

a Christian

Russian literature

Italian opera
--- [not in Macmillan]
1 -an or -ian also -ean

Function:

noun suffix



Meaning:

: someone or something that belongs to ▪ American [=a person who lives in or is from America] ▪ Bostonian [=a person who lives in or is from Boston]

2 -an or -ian also -ean

Function:

adjective suffix



Meaning:

1 : of or belonging to ▪ American


2 : characteristic of : resembling ▪ Herculean [=resembling Hercules] ▪ Mozartean [=characteristic of or resembling Mozart]
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-ance, -ence suffix

(in nouns) the action or state of



assistance

confidence
-ance, -ence suffix [in nouns]

the action, state, or quality of doing something or of being something



his sudden appearance (=he appeared suddenly)

her brilliance (=she is brilliant)
-ence (ACTION), -ance suffix
used to form nouns which refer to an action or series of actions:
violence (= violent actions)
a performance (= act of performing)

-ence (STATE), -ance suffix
used to form nouns which describe a state or quality:
her long absence (= period during which she was absent)
--- [not in Macmillan]
-ance

Pronounced:

/əns/


Function:

noun suffix



Meaning:

: the action or process of doing something ▪ avoidance ▪ performance ▪ acceptance

-ence



Pronounced:

/əns/


Function:

noun suffix



Meaning:

1 : the state of having a particular quality ▪ confidence ▪ dependence ▪ despondence


2 : the action or process of doing something ▪ emergence ▪ reference ▪ reminiscence
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(gynec)andry
--- [not found in any of the dictionaries]

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-ant, -ent suffix

1 (in adjectives)

that is or does something

significant

different

2 (in nouns)

a person or thing that

inhabitant

deterrent
-ant, -ent suffix [in nouns and adjectives]

someone or something that does something



a servant (=someone who serves others)

disinfectant (=substance for killing germs)

expectant (=expecting)

pleasant (=pleasing)
-ant suffix /-ənt/ (also -ent)

(a person or thing) performing or causing the stated action:


assistant
participant
disinfectant
an expectant look
a defiant child
--- [not in Macmillan]
1 -ant

Pronounced:

/ənt/


Function:

noun suffix



Meaning:

: a person or thing that does a specified thing ▪ assistant ▪ attendant ▪ immigrant ▪ coolant ▪ pollutant

2 -ant

Function:

adjective suffix



Meaning:

: doing a specified thing or behaving in a specified way ▪ propellant ▪ hesitant ▪ observant
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arch-

combining form

(in nouns)

main; most important or most extreme



archbishop

arch-enemy
arch- prefix

belonging to the highest class or rank



an archbishop (=an important bishop)

our archenemy (=our worst enemy)

the company's arch-rivals (=main competitors)
arch- prefix (MAIN)
most important:
an archbishop
an archduke

arch- prefix (EXTREME)
greater or especially worse than others of the same type:
an arch-criminal
his arch-enemy
He's always been an arch-opponent of the scheme.
arch- prefix

main: used with some nouns:


archenemy
archbishop
arch-

Pronounced:

/ˌɑɚtʃ/



Function:

prefix


Meaning:

1 : main or chief ▪ archenemy ▪ archbishop ▪ archrival


2 : extreme ▪ archconservative
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-ate suffix
1 (in adjectives)

full of or having the quality of



passionate

Italianate

2 (in verbs)

to give the thing or quality mentioned to

hyphenate

activate

3 (in nouns)

the status or function of

a doctorate

4 (in nouns)

a group with the status or function of

the electorate

5 (chemistry) (in nouns)

a salt formed by the action of a particular acid

sulphate
-ate suffix
1 [in adjectives] full of or showing a particular quality

affectionate (=showing love)

2 [in verbs] to make something have a particular quality



activate (=make something start working)

regulate (=control something or make it regular)

3 [in nouns] a group of people with particular duties



the electorate (=voters)

4 [in nouns] the job, rank, or degree of a particular type of person



She was awarded her doctorate (=PhD).

5 [in nouns] a chemical salt formed from a particular acid



phosphate
--- [not in Cambridge]
--- [not in Macmillan]
--- [not in Merriam-Webster’s]
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(sign)ature
--- [not found in any of the dictionaries]

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auto-

combining form

(also aut-)

 (in nouns, adjectives and adverbs)

1 of or by yourself

autobiography

2 by itself without a person to operate it



automatic
auto- prefix

1 of or by yourself



an autobiography

2 working by itself



a camera with an auto-focus lens
auto- prefix

prefix


of or by yourself, or operating independently and without needing help

an autofocus camera

an auto-immune disease
auto- prefix

1 relating to yourself: used with some nouns and adjectives:
his autobiography

2 working alone without any person being involved: used with some nouns, verbs, and adjectives:
an auto-loading gun
auto-

Function:

combining form



Meaning:

1 : self : same one ▪ autobiography

2 : automatic : acting by itself ▪ autopilot
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be-

prefix


1 (in verbs)

to make or treat somebody/something as



Don't belittle his achievements (= say they are not important).

An older girl befriended me.

2 (in adjectives ending in -ed)

wearing or covered with

heavily bejewelled fingers

bespattered with mud

3 (in verbs and adjectives ending in -ed)

to cause something to be

The ship was becalmed. (= there was no wind so it could not move)

The rebels besieged the fort.

4 used to turn intransitive verbs (= without an object) into transitive verbs (= with an object)



She is always bemoaning her lot.
be- prefix

1 [in verbs] used to mean that someone or something is treated in a particular way



Don't belittle him (=say he is unimportant).

He befriended me (=became my friend)

2 literary [in adjectives] wearing or covered by a particular thing



a bespectacled boy (=wearing glasses)

--- [not in Cambridge]


--- [not in Macmillan]
be-

Function:

prefix


Meaning:

1 : make : cause to be ▪ befoul ▪ benumb : treat as ▪ belittle ▪ befriend


2 : about ▪ bewail ▪ bemoan ▪ bespeak
3 : in a way that is easy to notice ▪ bewhiskered ▪ bejeweled ▪ bespectacled
4 : thoroughly : very much ▪ beloved
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biblio-

combining form

(in nouns, adjectives and adverbs)

connected with books



bibliophile
--- [not in Longman]
--- [not in Cambridge]
--- [not in Macmillan]
biblio-

Function:

prefix


Meaning:

: relating to books ▪ bibliography ▪ bibliophile

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bio- combining form (in nouns, adjectives and adverbs) connected with living things or human life: biodegradable · biography
bio- prefix

relating to or using living things



bio-genetics

biophysics
bio- prefix
connected with life and living things:
bioethics
biodiversity
bio- prefix

relating to living things or someone's life: used with some nouns and adjectives:


biology
biography
bio-

Function:

combining form



Meaning:

: relating to life or living things ▪ biosphere ▪ biochemistry
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-bound
in Oxford it is an adjective
in Longman it is an adjective
-bound suffix (DIRECTION)

/-baʊnd/ suffix

travelling in the stated direction

Northbound traffic is moving very slowly because of the accident.

US The line did not close completely, but inbound and outbound trains (= trains which were arriving and leaving) had to share one of the two tracks near the station.


-bound

1. used with some adjectives and nouns, for example place names, to make adjectives describing where someone or something is going



a Tokyo-bound plane

2. used with some nouns to make adjectives meaning that someone is unable to leave a place



His mother is sick and more or less house-bound.

desk-bound computer operators

a.

used with some nouns to make adjectives meaning that something prevents travel in a place



fog/snow-bound:a fog-bound airport

b.

used with some nouns to make adjectives meaning that something is preventing people from working or from doing what they want



a strike-bound factory
in Merriam-Webster’s it is an adjective

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cardio-

combining form

 (in nouns, adjectives and adverbs)

connected with the heart



cardiogram
cardio- prefix medical

relating to the heart



a cardiograph (=machine that measures movements of the heart)

cardiovascular (=the heart and the tubes through which blood flows in your body)
cardio- prefix (also cardi-)

of the heart:


cardiovascular
cardio-

prefix medical British English pronunciation: cardio- /kɑː(r)diəʊ/

relating to the heart: used with some adjectives and nouns

the hospital’s cardiology unit

cardiovascular disease
cardio-

Function:

combining form



Meaning:

medical : heart : cardiac ▪ cardiology ▪ cardiopulmonary [=relating to the heart and the lungs]


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counter-

combining form

(in nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs)

1 against; opposite



counterterrorism

counter-argument

2 corresponding



counterpart
counter- prefix

1 the opposite of something



a counterproductive thing to do (=producing results opposite to what you wanted)

2 done or given as a reaction to something, especially to oppose it



claims and counterclaims

3 matching something



my counterpart in the American system (=someone who has the same job that I have)
counter- prefix

opposing or as a reaction to



a counter-attack (= an attack on someone who has attacked you)
counter- prefix

opposing: used with some nouns, adjectives, and verbs:


a counter-proposal
an effective way to counteract global warming
Their efforts have all been counterproductive.
counter-

Pronounced:

/ˈkaʊntɚ/



Function:

prefix


Meaning:

1 : in a direction opposite to ▪ counterclockwise


2 : as a reaction against ▪ counteroffensive
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cruci(form)
--- [not found in any of the dictionaries]

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(leuco)cyte
--- [not found in any of the dictionaries]

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de- prefix
(in verbs and related nouns, adjectives and adverbs)

1 the opposite of



decentralization

2 removing something



to defrost the refrigerator (= remove layers of ice from it)
de- prefix

1 shows an opposite



deindustrialization (=becoming less industrial)

2 shows that something is removed



Debone the fish (=remove its bones).

The king was dethroned (=removed from power).

3 shows that something is reduced



The government have devalued the currency.
de- prefix
used to add the meaning 'opposite', 'remove' or 'reduce' to a noun or verb:
the deforestation of the rainforests
the denationalization of the coal industry
Once you've written a computer program, you have to debug (= remove the errors from) it.
de- prefix

used with many verbs, nouns, and adjectives for giving a word the opposite meaning:


decaffeinated coffee
measures that will destabilize the economy
de-

Function:

prefix


Meaning:

1 : do the opposite of ▪ decode ▪ deactivate

2 a : remove (a specified thing) from something ▪ declaw a cat ▪ defrost a windshield b : remove someone or something from something ▪ The king was dethroned. c : leave or get off something ▪ derail ▪ deplane

3 : reduce ▪ devalue currency


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