Meaning of “pro” before a noun

First, is “pro” an abbreviated form of “professional”? If yes, does “Pro American” mean “Professional American”? Answer Here are the three meanings of pro: (noun) professional. Example: Don’t mess with me. I’m a pro! (noun) advantage. Used mainly within the context of pros and cons (advantages and disadvantages). Example: The pros of democratic governance far … Read more

Any other words that use “dis-” as an amplifying prefix?

I remember hearing once about the etymology of disgruntled, probably based around a joke about how people can not be gruntled. The explanation given was that there was never a word gruntled, rather the dis‑  in disgruntled is actually a usage of the old prefix where it acts like an amplifier. Firstly, is this true? … Read more

Where did prefix exceptions originate?

Consider the following words: inflammable invaluable Each of these has the unusual property that its meaning is identical to its counterpart lacking the prefix. In almost all other cases, the prefix in- means “not”. Where did such exceptions originate and what are some other examples of such exceptions? Answer “Inflammable” is derived from the verb … Read more

Etymology for “Mc‑” and “O’‑” prefix in surnames

There is clearly a prefix in names like McDonald, McChrystal, O’Brian, O’Neal. What does this Mc- and O- prefix signify? It looks like Donald, Chrystal, Brian, Neal are perfectly fine names on their own, so why is there a prefix before it? Answer Mc is an abbreviation of Gaelic Mac, “son”. The standard way to … Read more

What is a good replacement for “ununderstandable”?

I want to tell a colleague of mine I’m doing something that will prevent her from getting “ununderstandable” errors. I have: …so that you will not get unnecessary, [ununderstandable] errors. After googling “ununderstandable”, I see that there is no such word, but I’m still looking for something that sounds better. Answer How about incomprehensible or … Read more

“Undistinguishable” vs. “indistinguishable”

Is there a difference between these two words? To me, it seems that undistinguishable is more where you can’t tell what it is, and indistinguishable seems to be where they’re the same. It seems a lot of places list them as synonyms though. Answer I’m a native English speaker, and I’ve never heard of "undistinguishable". … Read more

Are there any patterns to observe in choosing the correct negative prefix to use?

Are there any patterns to observe in choosing the correct negative prefix to use, as in unbelievable, disproportionate, asymmetric, and intolerable? (There are other negative prefixes as well, but these are the ones I usually mix up.) Un- and in- are probably the ones I most frequently mix up, as in *untolerable/intolerable, *unedible/inedible, *unexact/inexact, *unappropriate/inappropriate, … Read more

Why are not “infamous” and “inflammable” the opposite of “famous” and “flammable”?

Why are not infamous and inflammable the opposite of famous and flammable, like incomplete, inactivity, inappropriate and so on? Answer The New Oxford American Dictionary I had on my Mac Mini (which was the third edition, last time I checked) reported the following definitions for in-: in- 1 prefix 1. (added to adjectives) not: inanimate … Read more

“Irregardless” vs. “irrespective”

Why is irrespective considered a proper word but irregardless is not? Answer The “ir” in “irrespective” means “not”, i.e. “not respective”. So “irregardless” would mean “not regardless”, which would mean the opposite of what you probably hope it would mean. AttributionSource : Link , Question Author : David Hoerster , Answer Author : Tony Andrews

agreement with so and neither

We agree with positive statements using so-too: I have a red car. (Sara) So does Sara But with the negative statements we use neither-either: I don’t have a brother. (Jhon) Neither does Jhon So I can say that the most important thing before giving your agreement is to know whether the sentence is positive or … Read more