Quick Summary

The prefixes e- and ex-, besides meaning “out,” can also act as intensive prefixes. These prefixes can effectively be translated as “thoroughly” to highlight their intensive function. For instance, the prefix e-, such as in elude, means to “thoroughly” avoid someone, whereas the intensive prefix ex- in exclaim means to “thoroughly” shout out.

Intensive Prefixes "E-" and "Ex-"

Prefixes can emphasize roots of words to which they are attached; in this capacity they are known as intensive prefixes. Today we will explore the prefixes e- and ex-, which besides meaning “out” can also be translated as “thoroughly” when they act as intensives.

The prefix ex-, most commonly meaning “out,” appears in such words as exit, goes “out,” and exclude, shut “out.” Ex-, however, can also act as an intensive, such as in the word exclaim, which means to “thoroughly” shout something out. Consider the exclamation point, which “thoroughly” emphasizes something you’ve said! When you have answered a difficult question exactly, you have completed it so “thoroughly” that it is precisely right. If the answer required such accuracy, you might be exhausted, or “thoroughly” drained, from the process. If your answer was indeed correct, however, you have a right to be exhilarated, or “thoroughly” cheerful!

The prefix e-, a spelling variant of ex-, means “out” as well, such as in the words eject, or “throw out,” and emit, “send out.” However, e-, like ex-, can also act as an intensive. For instance, when you are ebullient about something, you are “thoroughly” bubbling over with enthusiasm. You might not be so enthusiastic if you were emaciated, or “thoroughly” thin. Hopefully you will be able to elude that unhealthy physical state, or “thoroughly” avoid it!

We have seen that the prefixes e- and ex-, besides meaning “out,” can also act as intensives, emphasizing the roots to which they are attached. Now that this has been elucidated, or made “thoroughly” clear, you can intensify your prefix power!

  1. exit: go ‘out’
  2. exclude: shut ‘out’
  3. exclaim: ‘thoroughly’ shout
  4. exclamation: state of ‘thoroughly’ shouting
  5. exact: ‘thoroughly’ done
  6. exhausted: ‘thoroughly’ drained
  7. exhilarated: ‘thoroughly’ cheerful or happy
  8. eject: throw ‘out’
  9. emit: send ‘out’
  10. ebullient: ‘thoroughly’ bubbling over with enthusiasm
  11. emaciated: ‘thoroughly’ thin
  12. elude: ‘thoroughly’ trick
  13. elucidate: make ‘thoroughly’ clear


  • expropriate

    If you expropriate something, you take it away for your own use although it does not belong to you; governments frequently expropriate private land to use for public purposes.

  • exhort

    If you exhort someone to do something, you try very hard to persuade them to do it.

  • exuberance

    If you show exuberance, you display great excitement, energy, and enthusiasm.

  • exult

    If you exult, you show great pleasure and excitement, especially about something you have achieved.

  • extenuate

    If circumstances extenuate someone’s actions in a questionable situation, you feel that it was reasonable for someone to break the usual rules; therefore, you partly excuse and sympathize with their wrongdoing.

  • expostulate

    If you expostulate with someone, you express strong disagreement with or disapproval of what that person is doing.

  • extol

    If you extol something or someone, you praise it or them very enthusiastically.

  • expiate

    If you expiate your crimes, guilty feelings, or bad behavior in general, you show you are sorry by doing something good to make up for the bad things you did.

  • expurgate

    To expurgate part of a book, play, or other text is to remove parts of it before publishing because they are considered objectionable, harmful, or offensive.

  • extant

    If something is extant, it is still in existence despite being very old.

  • exacerbate

    If something exacerbates a problem or bad situation, it makes it even worse.

  • exasperate

    When you exasperate another person, you annoy or anger them a great deal because you keep on doing something that is highly irritating.

  • excruciating

    An injury that is excruciating is extremely painful.

  • exiguous

    An exiguous amount of something is meager, small, or limited in nature.

  • expatiate

    To expatiate upon a subject is to speak or write in detail and at length about it.

  • exhaustive

    performed comprehensively and completely

Differentiated vocabulary for your students is just a click away.