Quick Summary

Prefixes are key morphemes in English vocabulary that begin words. The English prefix non-, which means “not,” appears in hundreds of English vocabulary words, such as nonsense, nonfat, and nonreturnable. You can remember that the prefix non- means “not” via the word nonpoisonous, for a substance that is nonpoisonous is “not” poisonous.

Non- Doesn't Do It

Today we will focus on the prefix non-, which does “not” “not” mean “not.” Let’s check out a good number of English vocabulary words that have non- in them so as to make its meaning henceforth nonperishable in your memory!

Terms that describe food often use the prefix non-, “not.” For instance, let’s say that the label on a container of yogurt claims that it is nonfat; you would expect that yogurt “not” to have fat in its list of ingredients. If a food item is nonperishable, such as canned food, it will “not” go off or spoil in a short period of time, but rather remain edible over an extended period since that type of food has a long shelf life. You also want to be very sure that you always eat nonpoisonous food, or that food which does “not” have poison in it! You can then cook all that nonfat, nonperishable, and nonpoisonous food in a nonstick teflon frying pan so that it will “not” stick to it when it’s cooking!

Most people these days agree that it is nonsensical to smoke, or does “not” make good sense. That is why more and more people are becoming nonsmokers, people who do “not” smoke. Perhaps one day smoking will be completely nonexistent, “not” being anywhere.

Imagine if you had an interest in nonflying birds, or birds whose wings are “not” used for flying, such as the following flightless birds: penguins, dodos, moas, ostriches, and emus. To discover which of these birds are extinct and which are still around, you could read a nonfiction book about flightless birds, or a book that does “not” deal with fiction but with facts about them.

Two fairly common Latin phrases in widespread use today contain the Latin word non which means “not.” A non sequitur, for instance, is a statement that does “not” follow logically from known information. A sine qua non part of an organization is an essential part of it, something without which it will “not” function.

A surprise word from baseball that came from the Latin word non is the word “umpire.” Etymologically, an “umpire” is a neutral official in a game, “not” equal or on a par with either side, but rather completely unbiased.

Now that you know that the prefix non- does “not” not mean “not,” you will “not” be fooled by any words that have non- in them, and so will “not” make the mistake of buying a nonreturnable item that you’re “not” sure you want in the first place!

  1. nonfat: “not” having fat
  2. nonperishable: “not” subject to spoiling or decaying
  3. nonpoisonous: “not” poisonous
  4. nonstick: of that which does “not” stick
  5. nonsensical: of “not” making sense
  6. nonsmoker: one who does “not” smoke
  7. nonexistent: of something that does “not” exist
  8. nonflying: of a bird which does “not” fly
  9. nonfiction: of a book that is “not” fictional, but factual
  10. non sequitur: a statement which does “not” follow from its premises
  11. sine qua non: an essential part without which something will “not” function well
  12. umpire: he who is “not” on either team’s side, but is completely neutral
  13. nonreturnable: of that which can “not” be returned


  • nonplussed

    If you are nonplussed, you are so surprised and confused that you are not sure what to do or say.

  • nonchalant

    Someone who is nonchalant is very relaxed and appears not to be worried about anything.

  • nonpartisan

    A person or group is nonpartisan when it does not support the ideas of any particular political party or group.

  • nondescript

    Something is nondescript when its appearance is ordinary, dull, and not at all interesting or attractive.

  • nonpareil

    Something nonpareil has no equal because it is much better than all others of its kind or type.

  • noncommittal

    If you are being noncommittal on an issue, you are not revealing what your opinion is and are being reserved on purpose.

  • nonconformist

    A nonconformist is unwilling to believe in the same things other people do or act in a fashion that society sets as a standard.

  • nonallergic

    not having an allergy to

  • noncombatant

    used of civilians in time of war

  • nonentity

    the state of not existing

  • nonexistent

    not having existence or being or actuality

  • nonfiction

    prose writing that is not fictional

  • nonplus

    be a mystery or bewildering to

  • nonsense

    having no intelligible meaning

  • nonsmoker

    a person who does not smoke tobacco

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