For Heather’s Perfect Post about prefixes and suffixes

To see Heather's post about prefixes and suffixes...

Prefixes and Suffixes

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Hello Heather, 

When I first saw your topic for the post I was curious. Words and something about words known as etymology are two of many interests of mine. Words because the more we know and understand of them, the more powerfully we can share with others.

Etymology is the study of where and how words began. Etymology can explain why words with silent letters came about or why other spellings or meanings exist.

You can try to find the etymology of words by going to this link. You will see a “search” box on the screen where you enter the word you want to trace…

(It doesn’t include spellable.)

Your post was interesting for me not only because you shared words to help others grow in word power, you also made me think about how words begin.

Let’s look firstly at the word, "spellable". Believe it or not, spellable is a word although not shown in all dictionaries. As you know, it means able to be spelt. If people think it isn’t a word, here is a link…

A little research and I find the word “spell” seems to have been around in some form for about 700 years but “spellable” is very different. I suspect it is much more modern and comes from our era. By using it, you are helping to make it a stronger word.

Made up words become real words the more people use them. Words can also change meaning over time.

Have you heard of an iPad? I’m sure you have.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

iPad is very modern and I think was invented by someone at Apple Computers but the way it’s said is what I find interesting. If we go back to the time I was your age and I heard someone say “iPad”, I would think they are saying “eye pad”, a medical dressing placed over an eye. Now, I have to listen to how it is used to know if people are talking about an “iPad” or an “eye pad”.

Words can be different in other countries. You walk on the sidewalk while we walk on the footpath. In USA, if you break the law you can go to jail yet here we go to gaol. Believe it or not, “jail” and “gaol” are said the same although many Australians are now using the US spelling.

Words can be very interesting and that leads me to what you have shared.

Your post on prefixes and suffixes is brilliant.  

You have set it out clearly and in an easy way for younger readers to understand. You may be a student in school but you are now also a teacher for younger children. To have knowledge and share it is a wonderful gift.

Can I come up with some words that have prefixes or suffixes?

I know one of the most confusing problems for many young learners is knowing which prefix to use. Look at these words…

impossible, unpossible, ilpossible

imlegal, unlegal, illegal

imnecessary, unnecessary, ilnecessary 

In each line, one word is correct and the others are wrong yet the im-, un- and il- prefixes can all make the words opposite. My choices for the correct words would be…

impossible,  illegal, unnecessary

Here is a link sharing some prefixes and suffixes people might like to try using…

What is my favorite word that includes a prefix or a suffix? 

My favourite word containing prefixes and suffixes is…


base word: establish

prefixes:   anti- dis-

suffixes:   -ment, -arian –ism

meaning: opposition to the disestablishment of the Church of England

Now that seems like a mouthful of a word but have a look at this one…


It’s said to be a medical word for a lung disease but I can’t see it being used very often.

Here is a little fun with prefixes…

If we are given more money, we have an increase. If we are given less money, we have a decrease. Does that mean if our money stays the same we simply have a “crease”?

Can’t words be amazing?

4 thoughts on “For Heather’s Perfect Post about prefixes and suffixes

  1. Heather

    Dear Mr. Mannell,

    I think your blog is beyond perfect!

    Wow! Antidisestablishmentarianism is a long word! Some of the prefixes and suffixes that you listed are ones I don’t know. I think that this will be a great influence for others! Anyway, what does the word mean and what do the prefixes and suffixes mean?

    Amazing! Another word that I do not know what it means is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. Does it even have any prefixes or suffixes? If so, what does it mean?

    Most of the prefixes or suffixes that you listed are ones that I don’t know. Some are: im-, il-, -arian, and -ism. The only word that I know with il- is illegal. That means something is NOT legal. From that, I am guessing that il- means not. Am I correct? What other words can you use the prefixes and suffixes on? What do some of them mean?

    I never knew spellable was a word because in the browser Chrome and Firefox on my blog, it underlines the word spellable in red. That means it is not a word. However, it does not underline it on your post. Even Mrs. Yollis said it wasn’t a word. Sometimes, the Internet isn’t always correct, but you are like an always correct dictionary, so now I think that spellable is a word. What are some other words that I might think are not words but really are words?

    Your friend,

    1. rossmannell

      Post author

      Hello Heather,

      Antidisestablishmentarianism is quite a word. I’ll try to break it down for you but it can be hard to understand.

      It comes from a time in English history. The Church of England had been linked to the Roman Catholic church but King Henry VIII in the 1500s ended the church’s ties to Rome. The Archbishop of Canterbury became the head of the Church of England. The Church of England was established. When something like this is set up, it is an establishment. You probably know workers in a library are known as librarians. An establishmentarian is in the establishment. The ism suffix used to show a belief in, for example, religion so establishmentarianism is a belief in the people or organisation in an establishment. In part of English history there were people who believed the new structure of the Church of England should be undone. This is where dis comes in. If people believed the Church of England should be changed back, they wanted to disestablish the church so disestablishmentarianism is the belief all of the changes should be undone. Now for the anti which means against. There were those who were against those who believed the Chruch of England should be changed back. They believed in antidisestablishmentarianism. WHAT A WORD!

      How do I know this? It’s because I understood, or knew how to find the meaning of, the prefixes and suffixes used in this example so let’s see how I go with pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. It is probably not a true word even in medicine but has been built by someone putting medical terms together. I don’t think it contains a base words so it is probably not correct to talk about prefixes and suffixes but let’s see if I can make something of a least some parts of it…
      pneumo gives me the idea it relates to the lungs
      microscopic tells me something is tiny
      silico gives me the idea it means silica, a mineral
      volcano together with silico makes me think it may be about volcanic silica dust
      osis means disease
      If I put these together, the very long “word” seems to mean a disease of the lungs caused by small silica dust particles being inhaled but, then again, I’m not a doctor and could have it completely wrong.

      Spellable is one of those words making its way into the language. English is a living language which means new words are entering our language every year as they become popular and some old words are disappearing or are changing in meaning. “Spellable” is not common and often not accepted but it is being used although not be me. Have a look at the quote below…

      Lat every felawe telle his tale aboute,
      And lat se now who shal the soper wynne.

      It was written in English in the late 1300s by a man called Geoffrey Chaucer. It is in English but of a type known as Middle English. Let’s see if I can turn it into modern English…

      Let every person tell his story,
      And let’s see who shall win dinner.

      Both are English but there have been 700 years of change between the two yet I think I understood it.

      We already know there have been new words in our language because of computers, very many since I first had the chance to use a computer back in 1972 and tried programming one at university in 1977. It makes you wonder what new words would be around at the end of this century in 2100. Perhaps in 2700 people will look at what we write and think it as strange as Chaucer’s words above.

      As far as being correct, I most certainly make mistakes but do try to research to find answers. If you look at the title of my blog at the top of the page, you will see the following words in blue, “I’m not an expert in any field but interested in many. Content is open to correction if needed.” It tells you I am not an expert in any subject and will change what I have written if I later believe I am wrong about something.

      It is true to say we shouldn’t believe everything we read on the internet. The skill comes from being able to look at the information, see if it comes from a person or institution we trust and try to sort fact from fiction. After reading your post, I could see you know the importance of checking what you share. I trusted your post and loved the way it started me thinking.

      In your comment, you wrote, “What are some other words that I might think are not words but really are words?” Wow, what a question. I can’t read minds to know what words you know but I can share some old Aussie slang words you probably don’t know. I know I have used them but many people don’t these days…

      dinkum – It means true or honest – If I asked if you were fair dinkum, I’d be asking if you’re telling the truth.
      galah – a galah is a pink, white and grey parrot but, to older Aussies, it has another meaning. If I said someone was a galah, I’d be saying they’re a fool or idiot.
      snag – it can mean something you might be caught on in a river or stream but an Aussie asking if you have any snags wants to know if you have any sausages.
      yakka – work – If it’s hard yakka, it’s hard work.

      The words might look made up and in a sense they are but they are in our major Australian dictionary, the Macquarie Dictionary.

      1. Anonymous

        Dear Mr. Mannell,

        Firstly, I want to apologize because I am so late for replying. D:

        Yes, WHAT A WORD!

        I think your explanation made me understand what the word means. I don’t know if what I think is true, but I am going to take a guess. The Church of England believes in antidisestablishmentarianism. Am I correct?

        When I thought of -arian, I thought it was something like -arian meant like person. In a game called Clash of Clans, there are troops called Barbarians, and I thought it meant ______ person, even thought he is a fighter with a sword. 😀 Before you mentioned librarian, I thought librarian was one base word.

        Wow! What kinds of words are those? Dinkum, galah, snag, or yakka are words that I never knew about! In your blog, all of the words are underlined in red. I’m confused, are they base words or prefixes and suffixes?

        Because of the definitions that you are giving me, it sounds like pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis is a medical word. Can doctors use the word while they are in their office talking to someone?

        Your dictionaries are more high level than our children’s dictionary, so that makes me think that it is a very high level word. If you were typing a letter to your boss or someone who is very high in level, could you include “spellable” in a letter?

        Your curious friend,

        1. rossmannell

          Post author

          Hello Heather,

          Your comment is both thoughtful and thought provoking. Curiosity is an indication of intelligence I hope you never lose. When we see wonder in the world throughout our life, our learning journey doesn’t cease until we do. If we share our journey with others along the way, our journey goes on through the learning of others.

          I think you simplified the meaning of antidisestablishmentarianism perfectly. Supporters of the Church of England didn’t want anyone to disestablish the church and were anti those who did. 🙂

          arian – This does have more than one meaning depending on how it is used. Aryan or Arian can be used when talking about what was said to be the Indo-European race of people. When -arian is used as a suffix, it indicates a person or thing that believes, or is connected with something. Barbarian comes from barbaric meaning primitive or brutal so a barbarian is someone who is brutal and/or primitive. A librarian is a person associated with a library. An antidisestablishmentarian is a person opposed to the disestablishment of the Church of England,

          With the Australian words, dictionaries wouldn’t necessarily know the words, dinkum, galah, snag or yakka when used in Australian slang. Many Aussie kids would probably know what a snag is at a barbecue or what someone meant when they called a person a galah but not all would. Words such as these are known as colloquialisms or slang. You could call them base words but I have never heard of words such as antidinkum or galarian. You might know of words in America that are colloquial (local). Many Australian children would know some of them because of television and movies. Look at this conversation using old Australian colloquialisms..

          “Streuth, mate, are you fair dinkum?” Bluey asked.
          “Yeah, I’m dinkum. He was flat out like a lizard drinkin’ getting it done in the arvo,” Shorty replied.

          I saw many red underlines as I wrote this because it doesn’t use regular words. What was being said?

          “Wow, friend, are you telling the truth?” Bluey asked.
          “Yes, I’m telling the truth. He had to rush to finish in the afternoon,” Shorty replied.

          Red-headed men were often called Bluey by friends and a tall person might be called Shorty. Australian colloquialisms can be strange but I always thought them interesting.

          pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis – I doubt whether doctors would use this term and suspect someone set about creating a word to describe as much about the disease as possible. A doctor might simply suggest, especially if talking to a patient, silicosis as the diagnosis because it is the term for a lung disease caused by inhaling silica dust. Then again, I’m not a doctor so I am only guessing. 🙂

          Spellable – I would generally not use the word when writing but have used it occasionally in speech. When writing to someone more formally I would be more likely to write, “The word might be difficult but is able to be spelt.” rather than “The word is spellable.” My choice is based on the idea the word “spellable” is not universally accepted. You probably know there are differences in spelling and words between U.S.A. and Australia so I generally try to avoid confusion in words but favour Australian spelling, as in “favour” rather than “favor”.

          Keep that curios mind of yours thinking. 🙂
          Ross Mannell


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