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186 THE FACTS ON FILE GUIDE TO GOOD WRITING for instance, the prefix serves to provide a new verbal form of an accepted noun (such as befriend from friend) or converts a noun into an adjective (as with antiterrorist or prohunting). Sometimes it may be used to create a new word signifying the opposite of the original (usually the case with such prefixes as de-, dis-, in-, non-, and un-). Often, by a process known as assimilation, a prefix indicating the opposite of something is adjusted in form to match the existing word, as for instance in the case of in-, which transforms as a prefix to produce such words as irregular (from regular), illegible (from legible), or immortal (from mortal). Many prefixes are married to the original without any kind of break, but some are tacked onto the original word with a hyphen, especially where the new word is felt to be a slightly cumbersome or relatively unfamiliar development of the original or where it is agreed the prefix needs to be kept distinct to promote clarity of meaning (as in self-harm or pro-Chinese). Often the hyphen may be dropped subsequently as the application of the prefix becomes more widely accepted. For discussion on the use of hyphens with prefixes, see HYPHEN (page 350). Restraint should be exercised in the creation of new coinages through the addition of prefixes, since some readers may find such compounds as macroscopic or megabucks jargonistic or slangy. Some compounds, however, produced by the addition of a prefix have continued in use long after the original word has disappeared from the common vocabulary. Examples of this phenomenon include such words as uncouth and unkempt. In some cases, the prefix has become so well known it has assumed the status of a word in its own right (as in anti, extra, and ultra). The application of prefixes and suffixes accounts for a substantial proportion of new additions to the English language (particularly true in relation to technological jargon). Knowing what a prefix means can assist greatly in the deciphering of a new word upon first encounter. The majority of prefixes come ultimately from Greek and Latin, and knowledge of these languages can provide a clue to their meaning. The following table lists some of the more common prefixes, together with their meanings and examples of words created through their use:




aabadaeroambiante- (See WORDS OFTEN CONFUSED) anthrop(o)anti- (See WORDS OFTEN CONFUSED) aquaarchastroaudioautobe-

not away from toward air both before human against water chief stars sound self surround cause to be

asymmetry abduct advance aerodynamic ambidextrous antecedent anthropology antiwar aquarium archenemy astronaut auditorium autobiographical besiege befriend

Guide to good writing - Martin Manser  
Guide to good writing - Martin Manser