Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The prefix -re in English

The prefix -re can be attached to many English words. It has the meaning of again to indicate repetition or back to indicate backward motion. This prefix often occurs in loanwords from Latin.

Here is a small list of words with the prefix -re:

reanalyze
rebuild
recount
redecorate
redo
reexamine
regenerate
remarry
reoccupy
replay
reread
resell
restart
retrace
retry
reunite
reuse
review
revisit
rewrite

The prefix -re occurs with read and write, but not with listen and speak. It occurs with marry but not with divorce, with start but not finish and also with sell but not with buy. The number of words that the prefix occurs with is restricted.

In most cases the meaning of the prefix is again. The verb redo means to do again. However, in return the prefix means back. We can thus analyze return as turn back.

Many English verbs can be prefixed with -re. In certain cases, only one word pair is possible. For example, we can attach this prefix to live (relive) but not to die. Though the prefix originally occurs in Latin loanwords, it also occurs in native English words such as build, read and sell.

No comments: