Definition of prefix in US English:



  • 1A word, letter, or number placed before another.

    ‘add the prefix 83 to the extension number’
    • ‘Our phone numbers will be lengthened to seven digits when we add the new prefix 64.’
    • ‘Queen Victoria loved the sulfureous saline water so much she gave the town a royal prefix.’
    • ‘The machine that prints tickets assigned the number 666 as a prefix on all the tickets for the film, said Gary Smith, owner of the Movies at Berry Square in northwest Georgia.’
    • ‘The ‘O’ when used as a prefix in Irish surnames means ‘descendant of.’’
    • ‘It received its royal prefix in 1917 after members used their own cars as ambulances to transport wounded soldiers and the clubhouse was used to treat the injured.’
    • ‘Originally christened, with admirable simplicity, the Station Hotel, the royal prefix was added after Queen Victoria blessed the building with her presence.’
    • ‘The girl said: ‘I checked my phone and found a voicemail message from a sergeant, who only left us his extension number without the prefix.’’
    • ‘To prevent duplication within a state, a progression of prefixes is used for the three-digit numbers.’
    • ‘As of tomorrow, patients will have to call numbers with the prefix 01772 to get through to the Collinson Avenue surgery.’
    • ‘From October 10 all numbers in the current 071 area must have the digits 91 added after the prefix.’
    • ‘There is something of a humorous history to the prefix Mungo, and it dates back to when a noted Carlow victualler, was building kennels in Ireland.’
    • ‘The company said customers would be able to keep their mobile phone number, but warned that the prefix may change if an operator other than Eircell ends up providing the service.’
    • ‘The glossary is very complete and accessible and includes definitions of common prefixes.’
    1. 1.1 An element placed at the beginning of a word to adjust or qualify its meaning (e.g. ex-, non-, re-) or (in some languages) as an inflection.
      • ‘Terms like megastore or hypertext are also called compounds, because they are combinations of free-standing words with prefixes or suffixes.’
      • ‘As such, one imagines that the southern Nigerian Ur-linguist, confronted with Indo-European languages, would see prefixes and suffixes as beside-the-point accidents just as we see tone.’
      • ‘As an aside, telethon is one of those odd blends in which two combining forms, prefix and suffix, have been borrowed from separate words and jammed together, extinguishing any root word.’
      • ‘A similar situation holds with the negative prefix ‘un’; the shape of the prefixes adjusts according to the form of its host.’
    2. 1.2 A title placed before a name (e.g. Mr).
      • ‘No wonder so many local supporters are calling for the caretaker prefix to be removed from his job title.’
      • ‘I am very much averse to any title or honours and I will be more than happy if there was no prefix to my name.’
      • ‘The first usage of the term Akali became known when Naina Singh, predecessor of Akali Phula Singh used it as prefix of his name, in the last decades of the eighteenth century.’
      • ‘Etiquette would probably have required me to use some sort of respectful prefix before their names.’
      • ‘Interestingly, both candidates had doctoral prefixes to their names.’
      • ‘When used as a prefix to someone's name, it implies an obvious loathing or contempt of that person.’


[with object]
  • 1Add (something) at the beginning as a prefix or introduction.

    ‘a preface is prefixed to the book’
    • ‘Abdul is prefixed to one of the 99 names of God in the Quran which identify His various attributes, which gives us Abdul Rahim, Abdul Rahman, Abdul Karim, Abdul Latif, Abdul Qadir, and so on.’
    • ‘Occasionally the word ‘gun’ is prefixed to remove any doubt as to what powder is meant.’
    • ‘A short autobiography is prefixed to the 1827 edition of Juvenal.’
    • ‘Similar advertisements are prefixed to plays by David Garrick, Isaac Bickerstaffe, Hannah More, Elizabeth Griffith, Elizabeth Inchbald, Frederick Reynolds, and many others.’
    • ‘Lord Shiva then gave his command that Sudheet's name would be prefixed to his name.’
    precede, introduce, begin, open, start, launch, lead up to, lead into
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Add a prefix or introduction to (something)
      ‘all three-digit numbers will now be prefixed by 580’
      • ‘He set Rangers on their way to a fine victory with the kind of pass that tends to be prefixed by the word ‘killer’.’
      • ‘If the server or client fails for some other reason, you'll receive a log message prefixed by ERROR or FATAL briefly describing the problem.’
      • ‘Sinclair has painted some 80 large works in oil on board, each of which say either ‘I love Real Life’ or use the real life title, prefixed by the name of the appropriate colour in which Sinclair has covered the ground.’
      • ‘It's just another type of variable, and all variables are prefixed by the dollar sign.’
      • ‘The output is detailed and prefixed by cryptic error messages.’
      • ‘The term is usually prefixed by the word corporeal, emphasising that the union is an actual one rather than a blending of rays.’
      • ‘Many of the clan names are prefixed by ‘Mac,’ meaning ‘son of.’’
      • ‘Even in reviews where he receives praise it is almost always prefixed by criticism.’


Mid 16th century (as a verb): from Old French prefixer, from Latin praefixus ‘fixed in front’, from the verb praefigere, from prae ‘before’ + figere ‘to fix’. The noun is from modern Latin praefixum, neuter (used as a noun) of praefixus, and dates from the mid 17th century.