views updated May 23 2018

de- repr. (often through F. dé-) L. dē-, which is the prep. down from, away from, off, aside, used in vbl. comps., as dēcrēscere DECREASE, dēfendere DEFEND. The earliest adoptions of such vbs. in Eng. were through F., as OF. decreistre, defendre; later adoptions were direct from L. infins. or pps. The meanings denoted are

1. down (from or to a place or state), as in DEPEND, DEPRESS;

2. off, away, aside, as in DECLINE, DETER;

3. down to the bottom or dregs, (hence) completely, thoroughly, as in L. dēcoquere (see DECOCTION); sometimes merely strengthening vbs., as in DECLARE, DENUDE;

4. with pejorative sense, as in DECEIVE, DERIDE;

5. by late L. grammarians used uniquely in dēcompositus derived from a compound word, further compounded, whence decomposite, decompound in chem., bot., etc.;

6. with the sense of undoing or reversing what is expressed by a vb., as in L. dēarmāre disarm, dēvelāre unveil, whence the formation of similar vbs. from sbs. to denote removal, as in DEFLOWER, DESPOIL; a similar notion was expressed by L. dis-, as in DISJOIN, and the use of this prefix, repr. in Rom. by des-, was widely extended, and through F. dé- (OF. des-) it became in Eng. adoptions identical with de- (cf. DEBATE, DEVELOP). Hence

7. as a living formative de- forms vbs., with corr. sbs., (a) denoting removal or riddance, as †debowel (XIV) disembowel, defrost (XX), DEHYDRATE; (b) with privative or reversive force mainly from late XVIII, as decentralize, decontrol, demagnetize.


views updated May 23 2018

de- prefix denoting
1. removal or loss.

2. reversal.