inter- prefix means between but interact has a whole different meaning than -inter or act, why is that?

I just started to dig into suffixes and prefixes. But I couldn’t understand how do they exactly change the meaning of the word that they are appended. For example re- means again, retake means take again. Inter- means between, but interact means acting in a way that you have an effect on something. Interact has … Read more

What does “autolyco-sentimental” mean?

Wagner is said to have described Mayerbeer’s operas as follows: (translated into English and originally written in German, probably.) “Meyerbeer … wanted a monstrous, piebald, historico-romantic, diabolico-religious, fanatica-libidinous, sacra-frivolous, mysterio-criminal, autolyco-sentimental dramatic hodgepodge …” I can never even guess what “autolyco-” means. I didn’t find any definition in any dictionary in any language. But this … Read more

Pre-requisite vs prerequisite

Looking up this on English exchange I couldn’t seem to find a single source of truth: Instance 1 – "Prerequisite" in search: "Prerequisite for" vs. "prerequisite to" Instance 2 – "Pre-requisite" in search: Single word for "This task cannot proceed until these other tasks are completed first"? I suppose it’s a bit of a broader … Read more

Differences in antonyms of “balance” with negative prefixes

Most words only have one correct negative prefix out of “in-“, “im-“, and “un-“. Why are both “imbalance” and “unbalance” both grammatically correct (but “inbalance” is not”)? What are differences in meaning and usage of these two opposites of “balance”? Can they be regarded as synonyms of each other? Are there any other examples of … Read more

Transcription and pronunciation of the ‘un-‘ prefix in General American English

What’s the correct transcription and pronunciation of the ‘un-‘ prefix in General American English? Cambridge Online dictionary provides the following transcription: /ʌn/ It’s the same in words with this prefix: /ʌnˈdu/. Why do they use the /ʌ/ and not the /ə/ (schwa)? It’s the /ə/ sound that typically occurs in unstressed syllables. Thank you. Answer … Read more

What did Colbert mean by “bedude form”?

In his most recent monologue on The Late Show, the comedian host Stephen Colbert, gently mocked a New York Times reporter’s style of writing (watch the excerpt on YouTube) “500 words” she whispered, her silken robe sliding to the floor as the morning sun hit her bedude form. I think that’s how the word “bedude” … Read more

Is there a prefix to denote neutrality?

English has prefixes to denote opposition as well as absence. For example: ‘gnostic’ vs ‘agnostic’ (having knowledge vs absence of knowledge) ‘social’ vs ‘asocial’ vs ‘anti social’ (being social, not being social, being against society) However there is a subtle difference between the absence of something and being neutral towards it. For example let;s say … Read more