Vocabulary: Suffixes and Prefixes   back

The University of Alabama
Center for Academic Success
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What can you do when you run into a word that you donít know? One thing that may help is to analyze the word, looking for groups of letters that have special meanings. A group of letters with a special meaning appearing at the end of a word is called a suffix. Here is a list of 16 important suffixes.

Suffix Meaning Example
-able able to be manageable
-ible defensible
-al relating to regal
-ance resistance
-ence independence
-ic heroic
-ion state of union
-ism quality of patriotism
-hood brotherhood
-ity legality
-ment puzzlement
-er one who writer
-or advisor
-ite Mennonite
-y full of soapy
-ful wishful

When a group of letters having a special meaning appears at the beginning of a word, we call that group of letters a prefix. Following is a list of 10 prefixes all dealing with counting.

Prefix Meaning Example
uni- one unicycle
mono- one monologue
auto- self autobiography
duo- two duodecimal
bi- two bifocal
tri- three tripod
penta- five pentagon
hexa- six hexadecimal
poly- many polygon
multi- many multicolored