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A Grammar of Interlingua

Alexander Gode & Hugh Blair IALA 1951

Word Building - compounding

General prefixes

Compounding by means of prefixes - general


The term COMPOUNDING is here used to refer to word building by the combination of one word and a prefix or of two full-fledged words. In either case the prefixed portion of the compound modifies the second element which determines the part of speech of the resulting formation. Note that the second element often establishes itself as representing a given part of speech only through the compounding process. rehabilitar 'to rehabilitate,' the prefix seems to modify a verb habilitar 'to habilitate' but it actually establishes itself directly on the basis of habile 'able.'

In the following surveys this phenomenon has been considered normal and therefore not in need of special comment. See also §163 below.


It is convenient to distinguish between GENERAL and TECHNICAL PREFIXES. The distinction follows no hard-and-fast rule but results from the fact (which seems to be characteristic of all modern languages and is certainly no distinctive feature of Interlingua) that scientific terminologies operate with prefixes which are rarely found in the general everyday vocabulary.


The following GENERAL PREFIXES are used to modify nouns, adjectives, and/or verbs as indicated in every instance:

(in verbs) 'to, toward, into' e.g.
judicar 'to judge' > adjudicar 'to adjudge'
currer 'to run' > accurrer 'to come running'
costa 'coast' > accostar 'to accost'
new formations:
rider 'to laugh' > arrider 'to laugh at'
Note: By extension of the meaning 'motion toward,' ad- expresses also 'change into,' 'increase of intensity,' etc. e.g.
clar 'clear' > acclarar 'to make clearer, clarify.'
- Subject to assimilation before consonants other than d, h, j, m, and v.
(in nouns, adjectives, and verbs) 'preceding in time or space' e.g.
camera 'room' > antecamera 'anteroom'
penultime 'penultimate' > antepenultime 'antepenultimate'
diluvio 'deluge' > antediluvian
poner 'to place' > anteponer 'to prepose'
new formations:
eternitate 'eternity' > anteeternitate 'ante-eternity'
margine 'margin' > antemarginal [Bot.]
arar 'to plow' > antearar 'to plow before hand (preliminary to the real plowing)'
Note: Synonym of pre-. Antonym of post-.
(in nouns and adjectives) 'opposed to, against; opposite' e.g.
arctic > antarctic
papa 'Pope' > antipapa 'antipope'
new formations:
idealista 'idealist' > antiidealista 'anti-idealist'
Freud > antifreudian 'anti-Freudian'
Note: The variant ant- (not in active use) appears before vowels and h, e.g.
helminthe 'intestinal worm' > anthelminthic 'anthelmintic, vermifuge.' Antonym of pro-.
(in nouns and adjectives) 'self' e.g.
biographia 'biography' > autobiographia 'autobiography'
mobile 'mobile' > automobile 'self-propelling, automobile'
new formation:
analyse 'analysis' > autoanalyse 'autoanalysis'
Note: The variant aut- (not in active use) appears before vowels, e.g.
-onym 'name' > autonymo 'autonym.'
(in verbs and adjectives) 'about, around' e.g.
navigar 'to navigate' > circumnavigar 'to circumnavigate'
polo 'pole' > circumpolar
vicin 'neighboring' > circumvicin 'circumjacent'
new formation:
zenit 'zenith' > circumzenital [Meteorol.] 'circumzenithal'
Note: The variant circu- (not in active use) appears before i, e.g.
ir 'to go' > circuir 'to go around, circuit.'
(in nouns and adjectives) 'joint, fellow' e.g.
national > conational 'from the same country, conational'
hereditario 'heir' > cohereditario 'coheir'
new formations:
naufrago 'shipwrecked person' > conaufrago 'fellow shipwrecked person'
ideal > coidealista 'adherent of the same ideal'
Note: Coincides with co-, a variant of con- used before vowels and h.
(in nouns, adjectives, and verbs) 'with, together, jointly, mutually' e.g.
matre 'mother' > commatre 'godmother'
latere 'side' > collateral
temporanee 'temporal' > contemporanee 'contemporaneous, contemporary'
exister 'to exist' > coexister 'to coexist'
religion > conreligionario 'co-religionist'
new formations:
generic > congeneric
fixar 'to fix' > confixar 'to confix, fasten together'
partitario 'partisan, adherent of a party' > compartitario 'adherent of the same party'
Note: Appears as co- before h and vowels; col- before l; com- before b, m, p; cor- before r the variant co- coincides with the prefix co- above.
(in nouns and verbs) 'against, opposing; counter or contrary to' e.g.
balancia 'balance' > contrabalancia 'counterbalance'
dicer 'to say' > contradicer 'to contradict'
new formations:
manifesto > contramanifesto 'counternmnifesto'
fluer 'to flow' > contrafluer 'to counterflow'
(in nouns, adjectives, and verbs)
  1. 'apart, separately; divided, scattered' e.g.
    rumper 'to break' > disrumper 'to disrupt'
    new formation:
    jacer 'to throw' > disjicer 'to scatter about'
  2. 'not..., contrary or opposite of' e.g.
    contente 'content, contented' > discontente 'discontent, discontented'
    harmonia 'harmony' > disharmonia 'disharmony'
    new formations:
    credentia 'belief' > discredentia 'disbelief'
    acido 'acid' > disacidificar 'to disacidify'
Note: In sense (2) synonym of non- and in-.
(in nouns) 'former' e.g.
presidente 'president' > ex-presidente 'ex-president'
new formation:
convicto 'convict' > ex-convicto 'ex-convict'
Note: Preferably set off by hyphen.
  1. (in nouns, adjectives, and verbs) 'outside; outside the scope of' e.g.
    dorso 'back' > extradorso [Arch.] 'extrados'
    muro 'wall' > extramural
    vaso '(blood) vessel' > extravasar [Anat.] 'to extravasate'
    new formation:
    lege 'law' > extralegal
  2. (in adjectives) 'highly, unusually, very' e.g.
    fin 'fine' > extrafin 'extra-fine, superfine'
    new formation:
    longe 'long' > extralonge 'extra-long'
Note: In sense (1) antonym of intra-.
(in names of kinship) 'grand-, great-' e.g.
patre 'father' > granpatre 'grandfather'
amita 'aunt' > granamita 'great-aunt'
new formation:
papa > granpapa 'grandpa'
Note: For further reduplication, the prefix pro- is available; e.g.
'great-great-aunt' progranamita.
  1. (in verbs) 'in, into,' e.g.
    ducer 'to lead' > inducer 'to induce'
    new formation:
    capsula 'capsule' > incapsular 'to incapsulate, enclose a capsule'
    Note: Appears as il- before l; im- before b, m, and p; ir- before r; expresses position in or upon, motion into, change into, etc. The synonym en- occurs in technical words, §158.
  2. (in nouns and adjectives) 'not...; lacking; lack of' e.g.
    action > inaction
    regular > irregular
    new formation:
    disciplina 'discipline' > indisciplina 'indiscipline'
Note: Appears as i- before gn; il- before l; im- before b, m, p; ir- before r. Synonym of dis- and non-.
(in nouns, adjectives, and verbs) 'between, among' e.g.
linear 'to line' > interlinear 'to interline'
acto 'act of a play' > interacto 'entr'acte'
maxilla 'jawbone' > intermaxiliar 'intermaxillary'
new formation:
racia 'race' > interracial
(in adjectives) 'inside, within' e.g.
venose 'venous' > intravenose 'intravenous'
new formation:
pelvic > intrapelvic [Anat.] Note: Antonym of extra-.
(in verbs) 'inwards, to the inside' e.g.
ducer 'to lead, conduct' > introducer 'to introduce'
new formation:
suger 'to suck' > introsuger 'to suck in'
Note: Specific formations may be given antonyms in extro-; e.g. introversion; extroversion
(in verbs) 'badly, wrongly' e.g.
interpretar 'to interpret' > misinterpretar 'to misinterpret'
new formation:
nominar 'to name' > misnominar 'to misname'
(in nouns and adjectives) 'not . .., lack or absence of' e.g.
conformista 'conformist' > nonconformista 'nonconformist'
senso 'sense' > nonsenso 'nonsense'
new formations:
cyclic > noncyclic usage 'use, usage' > nonusage 'disuse'
Note: Synonym of dis- and in-.
  1. (in verbs) 'through, throughout' e.g.
    forar 'to drill, bore' > perforar 'to perforate'
    new formation:
    vader 'to go' > pervader 'to pervade'
  2. 'thoroughly; extremely, very' e.g.
    venir 'to come' > pervenir 'to arrive, succeed in arriving'
    new formation:
    leger 'to read' > perleger 'to read thoroughly'
Note: In sense (1) synonym of trans-. Also used as a technical prefix with chemical nouns and adjectives. e.g.
oxydo 'oxide (= compound containing oxygen)' > peroxydo 'peroxide (= compound containing the maximum of oxygen)
new formation:
boric > perboric
(in nouns, adjectives, and verbs) 'behind, after in time, location, or order' e.g.
poner 'to put, lay' > postponer 'to postpone, delay'
glacie 'ice' > postglacial
new formations:
pagar 'to pay' > postpagar 'to pay in arrears'
impressionista 'impressionist' > postimpressionista 'postimpressionist'
Note: Antonym of pre- (and ante-).
(in nouns, adjectives, and verbs) 'before in time, position or rank' e.g.
dominar 'to dominate' > predominar 'to predominate'
historia 'history' > prehistoria 'prehistory'
matur 'mature' > prematur 'premature'
new formations:
gustar 'to taste; to enjoy' > pregustar 'to foretaste'
newtonian 'Newtonian' > prenewtonian 'pre-Newtonian'
Note: Synonym of ante-, antonym of post-.
  1. (in nouns and adjectives) 'in favor of, on the side of' e.g.
    semita 'Semite' > prosemitic 'pro-Semitic'
    german 'German' > progerman 'pro-German'
  2. (in verbs) 'forward, forth' e.g.
    longe 'long' > prolongar 'to prolong'
    new formation:
    traher 'to draw, drag' > protraher 'to protract'
Note: In sense (1) antonym of anti-. For use in names of kinship, see gran above.
(in verbs)
  1. 'back, backwards' e.g.
    flecter 'to bend' > reflecter 'to reflect'
    new formation:
    lancear 'to hurl, fling' > relancear 'to fling back'
  2. 'again' e.g.
    nove 'new' > renovar 'to renew'
    new formation:
    colonisar 'to colonize' > recolonisar 'to recolonize'
Note: In sense (1) synonym of the more explicit retro-.
(in verbs) 'back, backwards' e.g.
ceder 'to cede' > retroceder 'to retrocede'
new formation:
ducer 'to lead, conduct' > retroducer 'to lead back'
Note: Synonym of the less explicit re-. Specific formations may be given antonyms in pro-; e.g.
retrocession: procession.
(in nouns, adjectives, and verbs)
  1. 'under, underneath' e.g.
    lingua 'tongue' > sublingual [Anat.]
    new formation:
    currente 'current' > subcurrente 'undercurrent';
  2. 'subordinate; subdivision of' e.g.
    division > subdivision
    new formation:
    chef 'head, chief' > subchef 'subchief; assistant manager'
  3. 'slightly, slight' e.g.
    bullir 'to boil' > subbullir 'to simmer'
    new formation:
    inflammation [Med.] > subinflammation [Med.]
Note: Subject to assimilation before c, f, g, m, p, r. Antonym of super-.
(in nouns, adjectives, and verbs)
  1. 'over, above' e.g.
    poner 'to place' > superponer 'to superimpose,'
    scarpa 'shoe' > superscarpa 'overshoe'
    new formation:
    collar 'to paste' > supercollar 'to paste over'
  2. 'very; excessively, too much' e.g.
    pagar 'to pay' > superpagar 'to overpay'
    new formation:
    critic 'critical' > supercritic 'overcritical'
Note: Antonym of sub-.
(in nouns, adjectives, and verbs)
  1. 'beyond, across; surpassing' e.g.
    portar 'to carry' > transportar 'to transport'
    Alpes 'Alps' > transalpin 'transalpine'
    ration 'reason' > transrational
    new formation:
    uranium > transuranic
  2. 'through, across' e.g.
    parer 'to appear' > transparer 'to show through'
    new formation:
    luminar 'light' > transluminar 'to shine through'
Note: In sense (1) synonym of ultra-, in sense (2) of per-.
(in nouns, adjectives, and verbs) 'beyond' e.g.
passar 'to pass' > ultrapassar 'to go beyond'
violette 'violet' > ultraviolette 'ultraviolet'
new formations:
micrometro 'micrometer' > ultramicrometro 'ultramicrometer'
stella 'star' > ultrastellar
Note: Synonym of per-.
(in nouns) 'one who takes the place of' e.g.
rege 'king' > vicerege 'viceroy'
new formation:
director > vicedirector
supra previe sequente