Last night was pretty much sleepless. I wasn’t feeling sleepy yet I was physically tired. Perhaps it was the pain keeping me from sleeping? Or the late afternoon not-very-deep sleep nap I had.
I found myself thinking about the word prefix. Now then, a prefix is an affix, which means: “one or more sounds or letters occurring as a bound form attached to the beginning or end of a word, base, or phrase or inserted within a word or base and serving to produce a derivative word or an inflectional form“
Pre– those 3 letters are in themselves a prefix, meaning before (See HERE for a list of common prefixes and suffixes). So the word itself is an example of a prefix.
Are you confused yet? It’s really simple if you can hold all the definitions in your mind at the same time.
In my ‘won’t -go-to-sleep’ brain last night my mulling about the word prefix did not include suffixes – that was mentioned in passing but my brain didn’t dwell on it at all. In the light of today with some memory refreshing research, I stumbled over affix (see above) which also defines suffix, which is attached to the end of a word.
Since every question and subsequent answer generates more questions, as I was writing this I thought “What is a word that defines itself called?”
And the answer to that is: autological (“An autological word (also called homological word) is a word that expresses a property that it also possesses (e.g., “word” is a word, “noun” is a noun, “English” is English, “pentasyllabic” has five syllables”)
The opposite of autological is: Heterological – “an autological word is a word that describes itself, and a heterological word is a word that does not describe itself.”
Oh, there’s more but I will spare you. In talking about autological and heterological one falls in the paradox arena, a place from which I can never escape sane.
Last night’s sleepless mulling, turned into this morning’s trip down the language/grammar rabbit hole and now it’s time to shower and dress and move on to more practical matters.
(I’m so glad I took Latin in high school…)