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Latin in everyday life - 25 prefixes to "crack the code"

Latin in everyday life, sounds boring? On the contrary, you already know more Latin than you realise! Both Swedish and other European languages are dripping with Latin and if you learn a few syllables and expressions, you can suddenly understand a lot... in a lot of languages!

Latin in everyday life

I (Helena) am interested in languages and I have studied quite a few languages (English, French, Spanish, Russian, Icelandic and Danish) but I don't speak many. My favourite subject in high school was neither French nor Spanish ... but "general language skills". I think others thought it was a rather dry subject. For me it was the key to all.

We learnt a number of prefixes and suffixes and then all the languages in Europe became a fun puzzle. Take a prefix, a middle part and a suffix. Create and re-create! Suddenly I saw how Latin was everywhere, and everything became so single. Perhaps it's the same for you, but if not, I'd like to share some tricks for understanding complicated Swedish (I can almost promise a lot of correct answers on the language section of the university exam) and words in other languages.

Roman baths

25 prefixes to help you understand complicated Swedish and European languages.

Here are 25 prefixes that you will come across again and again. They pretty much always mean the same thing, whether it's in highfalutin Swedish, English, French or any other language. Very handy whether you're doing crosswords at home or trying to understand something while travelling abroad!

1. Ab - off/off

  • Abdicate (resign from office)
  • Abrubt (cancelled suddenly)
  • Abstinence (abstinence)
Stadshuset i Belfast
If you abdicate, you have to renounce/abdicate the throne.

2. Ad/that - to

  • Addera (add)
  • Adapt (adjust to)
  • Attract (attract)
  • Adjective (added to the noun)

3. Con/com - together/with

  • Consensus (agreement)
  • Combining (putting together)
  • Compress (squeeze)

4. Contra - word

  • Contrast (opposition)
  • Controversy (contradiction)
  • Counter-revolutionary (against the revolution)
ki aulan
Strong contrast (contradiction) between two completely different buildings

5. The - down/out

  • Define (delineate)
  • Depressed (low mood)
  • Deport (remove)
  • Demoralise (take away morale)
  • Destruction (remove/destroy the structure)

6. Dis/of - Take apart

  • Discriminate (ice wedge)
  • Dissect (decompose)
  • Disorientated (remove orientation)
Shoppingcenter Ostrava
Are you disoriented in life?

7. Ex - out

  • Export (exit)
  • Expressive (expressive)
  • Expand (enlarge)
  • Exit (exit)

8. Extra - in addition to

  • Extraordinary (out of the ordinary)
  • Extravagant (lavish)
  • Extraterrestrial (alien)
A little extravagant perhaps - out of the ordinary

9. In/im - in

  • Include (include)
  • Immigration (immigration)
  • Impression (impression)
  • Inhale (inandas)

10. In/im - not

  • Inconsistent (not consistent)
  • Immune (not susceptible to infection)
  • Unpopular (not popular)
Dolni Vitkovice
It would be good to be immune (not susceptible) to COVID-19.

11. Inter - between

  • Interval (between notes)
  • International (between countries)
  • Internet (between networks)

12. Intra/intro - within

  • Intravenous (within a vein)
  • Introverted (introverted)
  • Intranet (within the network)
  • Introduce (guide in something)
There is a difference between intranet (within networks) and internet (between networks).

13. Ob/opp - word

  • Obstruction (resistance)
  • Oppose (contradict).

14. Per - through

  • Perforating (drilling through)
  • Perspective (review)
  • Perfect (elaborate)
The cheese looks almost perforated (pierced).

15. Mail - after

  • Postdate (provide a later date)
  • Post-glacial (after the ice age)
  • Postdoc (post-doctoral research position)
  • Post-colonialism (after colonialism)
  • Postmodernism (developments after modernism)
After my dissertation I could have taken a job as a "Post Doc".

16. Pre - before

  • Prepare (prepare)
  • Prefix (first name)
  • Predestined (predetermined)
  • Contraception (preventing pregnancy)

17. Pro - forward

  • Progressive (forward-looking)
  • Propeller (drives forward)
  • Prominent (distinguished)
  • Pro-American (for Americans)
Helikoptertur över Stockholm
The helicopter's propeller pushes forward - and that's lucky!

18. Re - again

  • Repeat (do again/repeat)
  • Return (return journey)
  • Retreat (go back/return)
  • Revise (revisit)

19. Retro - back/backwards

  • Retro (retrospective fashion)
  • Retroactive (backdated)
  • Retrospective (looking back)
Retrospective? Peter looks back at a bygone era ...

20. See - apart, away

  • Selection - selection, choosing
  • Segregation - distinguishing a group
  • Separate - take apart, separate

21. Semi - half

  • Semi-final - semi-final
  • Semicolon - as a "half" colon

22. Sub - under

  • Subsidy (grant)
  • Subtract (remove/minus)
  • Submarine (submarine/underwater boat)
Submarine is of course something that can move under the surface of the sea.

23. Super - over/giant (reinforcing)

  • Super fine (very fine)
  • Superlative (exuberant expression)
  • Superpowers (major powers)

24. Trans - over (to the other side)

  • Transport (transferring/moving)
  • Transaction (transfer)
  • Trans-Siberian railway (railway across Siberia)
  • Transsexual (transitioning from one gender to another)
  • Transistor (transferring sound)
Transsibiriska järnvägen
Exciting journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway - across Siberia

25. Ultra - in addition to

  • Ultrasound (frequency higher than the upper limit of human hearing)
  • Ultraviolet (invisible light beyond violet)
  • Ultrarapid (incredibly fast)

More tips on prefixes and Latin in everyday life?

Do you like languages? Perhaps you have more tips on prefixes and Latin in everyday life? Or do you have any other interesting thoughts about language?

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