The English prefix a- and its variant an- both mean “not.” Do “not” worry about suffering from amnesia about the meaning of this prefix after listening to this podcast!
First let’s talk about the prefix a-, which means “not.” If someone is suffering from amnesia, he is “not” able to remember things. If you are apathetic about people or things, you do “not” care about them at all. In a related vein, someone who is asocial is “not” social, being “not” really interested in hanging out with other people. An apolitical person is, you guessed it, “not” interested in politics in the least.
Have you ever considered whether or not God exists? If you are an atheist, you do “not” believe in a supreme being. Have you ever looked at an amoeba under a microscope? If so, you probably know that it is not defined by a single shape, but changes it constantly; therefore, it is considered to be amorphous, or does “not” have a fixed shape. Speaking of things scientific, at the time when the word atom was coined it was considered to be the smallest possible particle of matter, and therefore could “not” be cut.
Now let’s move onto the variant of a-, or an-, which also means “not;” this variant appears before roots beginning with a vowel. Someone who is anemic does “not” have enough red blood cells. A person who takes ibuprofen or aspirin is looking to have her pain relieved; these pain killers are called analgesics, which help people “not” have pain. A state of anarchy in a country is a social situation where there is “not” a controlling central government. And if you want to be anonymous, you go around “not” giving out your true name, or any name at all.
Now you will never again suffer from abulia, or “not” being able to make up your mind, at least when it comes to the prefixes a- and an-!
- amnesia: ‘not’ able to remember
- apathetic: ‘not’ caring
- asocial: ‘not’ social
- apolitical: ‘not’ political
- atheist: ‘not’ believing in a deity
- amorphous: ‘not’ having a shape
- atom: particle of matter which can “not” be cut
- anemia: having ‘not’ enough hemoglobin or red blood cells
- analgesic: pertains to ‘not’ having pain
- anarchy: a state of ‘not’ having a central ruling authority in a country or nation
- anonymous: ‘not’ having a name
- abulia: ‘not’ being able to make a decision