A New Perspective on "Per-"


Quick Summary

Prefixes are key morphemes in English vocabulary that begin words. The English prefix per-, which means “through,” appears in hundreds of English vocabulary words, such as perish and person. You can remember that the prefix per- means “through” via the word permanent, for something that is permanent stays intact “through” the years.

A New Perspective on "Per-"

Today we will focus on the prefix per-, which means “through.” Let’s go “through” a number of examples of words with per- in them to make the meaning of this prefix permanent in your memory.

Has anyone ever given you permission to cut in line, sending you “through” others to the front? After you were permitted to do so, did you perspire or have sweat breathe “through” your skin as others gave you the evil eye? Wouldn’t it be great if you could permanently go to the front of any line, thereby remaining there “through” all time? Then that privilege would only end after you perish, or go completely “through” your lifetime.

People go “through” things every day. Imagine life where you live. A man you know might perambulate, or walk “through” your neighborhood with his dog. The artist living next door might need to perforate a piece of metal for a sculpture, or bore holes “through” it. The gardener across the street might be planting perennials, or flowers that come up “through” the years, reappearing again and again. This gardener might also be watering her vegetables in permeable soil, which allows water to pass “through” it.

Courthouses are pervasive in this country, or go “through” it from one end to the other. Some unwilling visitors to those courts might have committed perfidy, or broke a promise of some kind by disloyally going “through” another’s trust. An example of such perfidy in the courtroom is perjury, or swearing “through” one’s oath to tell the truth, hence lying during the courtroom proceedings. Imagine a poor judge who has to spend so many hours listening to all these problems—at some point the judge might consider her duties merely perfunctory, just wanting to get “through” with them already.

Now you should permanently be one of those persons who knows that the prefix per- means “through.” Oh, and the word “person?” The face “through” which you speak is you, a person “through” whom the prefix per- frequently sounds.

  1. permission: act of sending “through” a request
  2. permit: to send “through” a request
  3. perspire: to have sweat breathe “through” your skin
  4. permanent: a staying “through”
  5. perish: to go completely “through” a lifetime
  6. perambulate: to walk “through” a place or area
  7. perforate: to punch or bore holes “through” a material
  8. perennial: of coming up “through” the years
  9. permeable: capable of passing “through”
  10. pervasive: of going “through”
  11. perfidy: act of going “through” another’s trust
  12. perjury: swear “through” an oath
  13. perfunctory: of just getting “through” something
  14. person: one who sounds “through” a face

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