One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Once more; afresh; anew.‘reaccustom’‘reactivate’
- 1.1 With return to a previous state.‘revert’
- 1.1 With return to a previous state.
2In return; mutually.‘react’‘resemble’
- 2.1 In opposition.‘repel’‘resistance’
- 2.1 In opposition.
3Behind or after.‘relic’‘remain’
- 3.1 In a withdrawn state.‘recluse’‘reticent’
- 3.2 Back and away; down.‘recede’‘relegation’
- 3.1 In a withdrawn state.
4With frequentative or intensive force.‘refine’‘resound’
5With negative force.‘recant’
In modern English the tendency is for words formed with prefixes such as re- to be unhyphenated: restore, remain, reacquaint. One general exception to this is when the word to which re- attaches begins with e: in this case a hyphen is often inserted for clarity: re-examine, re-enter, re-enact. A hyphen is sometimes also used where the word formed with the prefix would be identical to an already existing word: re-cover (meaning ‘cover again’, as in we decided to re-cover the dining-room chairs) not recover (meaning ‘get better in health’). Similar guidelines apply to other prefixes, such as pre-
From Latin re-, red- ‘again, back’.
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