Study carefully the following words: fold, unfold; cede, precede, recede, intercede; ply, comply, supply, reply. Notice how the syllables placed before or prefixed to fold, cede, and ply modify the meaning of these words.
A prefix is a syllable added to a word at its beginning to modify its meaning.
It is necessary to know the meanings of prefixes to determine accurately the meanings of many words.
Study the words formed by writing the following Latin prefixes with some of the roots already studied, and try to understand the meaning of each prefix as here used.
1. Ab. Absent, absolve, abduct, abstract, abuse, avert. The meaning of ab is from, away. It may take the forms a, ab, abs.
2. Ad. Admit, adhere, accord, accept, accredit, affix, allure, annex, appeal, aspire, ascend. The meaning of the prefix is to. By assimilation it may take the form a, ac, af, al, an, as.
3. Ante. Antecedent, antedate, anticipate. The meaning of the prefix is before. It has the forms ante or anti.
4. Con. Confine, convert, coordinate, committee, collect, compile, contain, connect, correspond. The prefix, assimilated to co, col, cor, evidently means together.
5. De. Descend, depart, decompose, deface. Be seems to mean down, from.
6. Dis, di, or dif. Dissent, divide, differ, diffuse. The prefix means separate.
7. Ex, e, or ef. Exalt, expand, elect, evade, evolve, effect, exceed. The meaning of the prefix is out of, from.
8. In. Invade, incline, illumine, illustrate, immerse, impress, irradiate. The meaning of the prefix is in, into. In inactive, incautious, illegal, irreligious, the meaning of in is not. The forms il, im, ir are assimilated from in.
9. Ob. Occupy, offer, oppose, obtain. The meaning of the prefix is in front of, against. The assimilation gives oc, of, op.
10. Pre. Predict, prefer, precede, presuppose, prepay. The meaning of pre in these words is before.
11. Pro. Proceed, proclaim, prolong, propose. The idea of forward, before is clearly shown by pro in these words. The forms por, pur are found in portray, portend, purchase, pursuit, purpose. In pronoun and proconsul, pro means for.
12. Be. Recede, return, recast, recommend, reassert, reform. The meaning of re is back, again.
13. Sub. Sublet, subjoin, submarine, succeed, suffer, suggest, summon, suppress, surprise, suspect Sub means under. The words given show that it assimilates with c, f, g, m, p, r, s, and becomes sue, suf, sug, warn, sup, sur, sus.
14. Trans. Transform, transfer, transitive. The prefix means across.
15. Un, uni. Unanimous, universal, uniform. The meaning seems to be one. In unsound, uneasy, unreal, etc., the meaning is not.
These fifteen prefixes just studied are the Latin prefixes most frequently used. We give below a few others less common, together with words in which they are used:
Study the sentences on pages 189 and 190, and learn how the meanings of the words having the roots scrib, due, and mit are changed by the prefixes.
Find other words from these roots combined with other prefixes.
Write ten sentences using in each some word or words you have found with the root scrib or scrip; ten with the root duc or duct; and ten with the root mit or mis.
Study the following words from the root spir, to breathe:-
We have in English aspire, to breathe, to desire; aspiration, meaning the pronunciation of a letter with a strong emission of breath; a second meaning is a strong desire for something higher than we have, as though we would breathe to ourselves something wished for; aspirate is a sound produced by the breath alone; aspirer is one who seeks earnestly.
Conspire, means to breathe together; to breathe together may give the thought of speaking together, or of having the same mind concerning some cause of action, thus it may mean to unite for a purpose. It has come to mean to unite for an evil purpose, to plot against authority. Conspire, conspiracy, conspirator give us the underlying idea of plotting against another.
Expire, means to breathe out; to die is a secondary meaning. Expiration is a breathing out, the end, the termination. Expiratory means pertaining to the expiration of air from the lungs.
Inspire is to breathe in. From this comes the meaning to infuse or convey into the mind by a higher power. The noun inspiration has the two meanings, a breathing in and a higher or divine influence. Inspirer has only the latter idea, one who inspires others to nobler thoughts or aspirations. Inspiratory pertains to breathing only.
Perspire means to breathe through, to sweat. The latter is the only present meaning of the word; but this meaning comes from the idea of breathing through, and thus it comes to mean to send the fluids of the body through the pores of the skin.
Respire, to breathe again, has kept its original meaning; so respiration, the act of breathing, and respirator, an instrument through which persons of weak lungs can breathe; respirable, fit to breathe, and respirator, serving for respiration, have held the original meaning of the root.
Suspire, to breathe under, to breathe out from under, to sigh; suspiration, the act of sighing, a sigh; suspired, a breathing-hole, have kept pretty close to the meaning of the root and the prefix.
From the study of the changes in the meaning of such a word as aspire, which has changed from to breathe to into to earnestly desire something better than we have; and from inspire, which is changed from to breathe in into to receive influence from the divine, - it is seen how easily the language uses its words to express the highest thoughts.
The idea in aspire was to breathe up to the Creator; in inspire, to have Him breathe His life into one, and so tune one to highest thoughts and highest deeds.
The changes in the meaning of this word inspire show how words can come to have a higher than the original meaning.
Such a word as egregious, which means chosen from or out of the flock, and formerly meant excellent, shows us that the meanings of words can deteriorate. It is used now in a bad sense only.
The root of a word, as we have seen, is the simplest form to which endings or prefixes may be added. Stems are roots slightly modified.
We give below a few Latin verb stems frequently used in the formation of English words, and also one English word derived for each stem.
The thoughtful student will be surprised to learn how large a number of English words contain these stems. Find as many of them as you can.
We give the verb forms from the Latin as found in the Century Dictionary.
There are many other Latin' stems from which English words are derived, and the study of these words, how they are made, how changed both in form and in meaning, is most interesting and profitable.
Besides the Latin there are many Greek stems and prefixes which yield a large number of words.
Of the prefixes many have the form and meaning of the Latin, as anti, ex, pro, di, dis.
Of the purely Greek prefixes, auto is much used; it means self as seen in the following words: Autobiography, automobile, automaton, autograph.
The Greek stem, graph, meaning write, we find in photograph, telegraph, geography, and graphophone. Try to find other words from this stem.
The Greek stem, log, meaning word, is found in catalog, dialog, geology, and in many other words which you will readily recognize.