A prefix is one or more syllables attached to the beginning of a word that changes its meaning. An example is understanding the difference between the words postseason and season. The prefix post- means after. So we can understand the word as being “after the regular season” or when playoffs take place.

A suffix, on the other hand, is one or more syllables attached to the end of a word that changes its meaning or even its part of speech. Here are few examples based on the root word, sleep:

  • sleepless (adjective)
  • sleeplessness (noun)
  • sleepy (adjective)
  • sleeper (noun)

The origins of most prefixes and suffixes come from Latin and Greek. Knowing the meaning of prefixes and suffixes can greatly increase vocabulary. For instance, if you do not know what a word means but you know what parts of the word mean, you will likely be able to decipher the meaning of the entire word. Here are some resources to help you remember the meaning of common suffixes and prefixes:

  • List of common suffixes
  • List of common prefixes
Last revised on June 25, 2019.