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Funny Words with Prefix or Suffix

English has many different prefixes to negate words, like a- (amoral), an- (anaerobic), contra- (contradiction), de- (destabilize) and im- (immature); or to lessen words, like sub- (subpar), and under- (underestimate).  I call these negafixes.  The problem is you can’t always remove them and get an un-negated word.  But what if you could?

abstract — Being a normal person, Hedy Stuff preferred stract art.

anemic — Because he constantly licked the iron cell bars, Saul Tenpepper was nemic.

angelic — Cruella De Vil gave the Dalmatian pups a gelic smile.

antiques — Because of her distaste of history, Erin Sturun liked to collect ques.

antiquated — Tired of old furniture, Peg Bord redecorated with quated pieces.

contravene — Rick Ashay refused to vene any law dealing with creative accounting.

counterfeit — Steve Adoar’s engraving was so good the stuff looked like feit money.

delete — Since Dee Sepshun had been such a good girl, she decided to lete another item on her Christmas list.

demolish — In his spare time, Rich Enfamus would molish a house of cards.

discrete — Normally quite shy, Jude Ishuh was very creet about his sex life.

disrupt — With one bang of his gavel, Judge Bean could rupt the courtroom.

hapless — Pam Flet assumed men with mustaches were always hap fellows.

illusion — Anna Thesia wasn’t imagining things; the bats in the belfry were real lusions.

immune — It turned out that Snow White was mune to poisoned apples as well as aspirin.

inane — When Bea Fuddle thought about it, the stuck zipper story didn’t sound so ane after all.

mischievous — The Bumstead children were quite chievous when paid a great deal of money.

miscreant — Being a bit depraved, Sol Itude was not a normal creant.

nonchalant — Mort Chuary acted so chalant that the police suspected him immediately.

retrospect — In spect, Jonah regarded the whale as no big deal.

substitute — Vic Timize longed to be a stitute teacher because he wanted his own desk.

subterfuge — Prince Sipple was at his best planning terfuge across the land.

understood — Like most people, Jen Uphlect stood her dreams.

unruly — As always the ruly congregation mostly slept during the sermon.

The negafixes un-, in- and non- are often interchangeable (for example, intolerable = nontolerable = untolerable, and inapplicable = unapplicable = nonapplicable, and unhuman = inhuman = nonhuman).  However, while non- and in- are only stand-ins for the word “not,” un- also can mean the reversal of an action (akin to the de- negafix, as in demystify).  For example, undressed means to the take clothes off and unload means to remove a load.  So, with two negafixes already standing for “not” why not make un- do strictly reversal work—as in:


unsold — returned for a refund

uncooked — made raw again

uncounted — called the time to lift off

uneaten — vomited

unwashed — made dirty

uninformed — fed misinformation

unfinished — taken apart

unknown — forgotten

unwritten — erased

unpainted — stripped and scraped

unlit — turned the lights out


For more un words, see Un-real Meanings.