The Miller Analogies Test (MAT) is all about word analogies. Understanding a word’s definition is often critical to success on the MAT, so memorizing common prefixes can help tremendously.

Knowing your roots, prefixes, and suffixes isn’t a cure-all because the English language likes to break its own rules now and then, but it can help you through some tough questions when you just can’t recall the word’s dictionary definition. Here you’ll focus on learning common prefixes.

A prefix is letters attached to the front of a word that alter its definition. Some prefixes are so common and well known that they’ve actually become words in their own right. For example, the prefix ultra-, which means “beyond”, can be used as an adjective (she’s ultra-cool).The word prefix itself has a prefix, pre–, which means “comes before.”

An example of a prefix in action is found in the word anti-inflammatory. The prefix anti– often means “against,” and the word anti-inflammatory means “against inflammation.”

Just like word roots, prefixes don’t always make a word mean what their definitions below indicate, but they’re better than nothing when you don’t know the meaning of a word.

The following is a list of many common prefixes.

  • ANTE-: Before; antechamber: waiting room

  • ANTI-: Against; antifreeze: prevents water from freezing

  • BE-: Beset with; befogged: bewildered

  • BI-: Two; bipedal: walks on two legs

  • CIRCUM-: Around; circumvent: evade by going around

  • CONTRA-: Opposite; contradiction: deny a statement

  • DE-: Down; decelerate: to slow down

  • DI-: Two; diverge: branching off in two or more ways

  • DIS-: Separate; discontinue: stop

  • EPI-: Upon; epitaph: inscription on a tombstone

  • EX-: Former; ex-wife: one’s former, living wife

  • EXTRA-: Outside; extraneous: not needed

  • HYPER-: Over; hyperventilate: breathing faster than normal

  • HYPO-: Low; hypothermia: when body temperature drops below normal

  • IM-: Not; impossible: unachievable

  • IN-: Into; incarcerate: put in prison

  • INTER-: Between; intersection: where two roads meet

  • INTRA-: Within; intrados: the inside of an arch

  • META-: Beyond; metaphysics: abstract philosophy

  • MIS-: Wrong; misinformed: believing incorrect information

  • MONO-: One; monolith: one independent rock

  • MULTI-: Many; multipurpose: having many uses

  • NON-: Not; nonissue: irrelevant

  • PARA-: Beside; paragon: an example of excellence

  • PER-: Through; pervasive: reaching throughout all

  • POLY-: Many; polygraph: method of lie detection measuring several bodily reactions

  • POST-: After; postlude: song played after the main event

  • PRE-: Before; prelude: song played before the main event

  • PRO-: For; pro-equality: in favor of equal treatment for men and women

  • RE-: Again; reactivate: to start again

  • SEMI-: Half; semicircle: a half-circle

  • SUB-: Under; subway: trains below ground

  • SUPER-: Above; supervision: watching over

  • TELE-: From a distance; telephone: device used to talk from great distances

  • TRANS-: Across; translating: deciphering another language

  • ULTRA-: Beyond; ultrasound: sound wave with frequency higher than humans can hear

  • UN-: Not; unfair: not just

  • UNI-: One; unicycle: vehicle with one wheel

  • WITH-: Against; without: lacking

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Vince Kotchian is a full-time standardized test tutor specializing in the MAT, SSAT, ISEE, ACT, GRE, and GMAT. He teaches a GRE prep course at the University of California, San Diego, and has an extensive understanding of analogies and the MAT.

Edwin Kotchian is a MAT tutor and freelance writer who has contributed to a variety of test-prep material.

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