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Prefixes & Derivation

Here you can look up the main prefixes which form Pali words and whose knowledge is sometimes required for understanding properly the original meaning.


1. towards, against to, on to, at-.
ex: gacchati: to go > abhi·gacchati: to go towards, approach

2. out, over, all around, on top of.
ex: jāti: birth > abhi·jāti: offspring

kamati: to affect, come to > abhi·kamati: exceed

tapati: to shine > abhi·tapati: to shine forth

3. transitivising intransitive verbs as does English be-.
ex: jāyati: to arise, be produced > abhi·jāyati: to beget

4. intensification: very much, greatly.
ex: nipuṇa: clever > abhi·nipuṇa: very clever

jighacchati: to be hungry > abhi·jighacchati: to be very hungry

vandati: to salute > abhi·vandati: to salute reverentially.

5. pleonastic: appears in double-prefix compounds where it is often seemingly superfluous, ie. weakened in meaning, when the second part already denotes intensity.

remark: before vowels becomes, ajjh-
ex: adhi+attaṃ= ajjh·attaṃ

1. toward, to, up to, on, over.
ex: gacchati: to go > adhi·gacchati: "to go on to & reach it" ie. obtain

gaṇhāti: to take, seize > adhi·gaṇhāti: to overtake, surpass

bhāsati: to speak > adhi·bhāsati: to speak to, address

2. where, here, on top of, above, over.
ex: ("where":) vasati: to live, dwell > adhi·vasati: to inhabit

("here":) atta: self > ajjh·atta: "this self here", personal, subjective, interior, inwardly

3. in addition, quite, very, super, higher.
ex: jeguccha: detestable > adhi·jeguccha: very detestable

paññā: wisdom > adhi·paññā: higher, additional wisdom.

1. after, behind (motion viewed from the front backward).
ex: dhāvati: to run > anu·dhāvati: to run after

bala: military force > anu·bala: rearguard

bhāsati: to speak > anu·bhāsati: to speak after, repeat

2. for, towards an aim, on to, into, over to, forward (motion viewed from the back forward).
ex: pavecchati: to give, bestow > anu·pavecchati: to hand over

rodati: to cry, weep > anu·rodati: to cry for

pavisati: to enter > anu·pavisati: to enter into

3. (emphasis).
ex: dayā: sympathy, kindness > anu·ddayā: pity

yoga: application, endeavour > anu·yoga: devotion, dedication

vitakketi: to consider, reflect > anu·vitakketi: to ponder over

4. according to, in conformity with, along.
ex: ñāta: kown, well-knwon > anu·ñāta: permitted, allowed

mati: opinion > anu·mati: consent, agreement

rūpa: form > anu·rūpa: conform

anu·dhamma: in conformity with the dhamma

karoti: to do > anu·karoti: to imitate

5. secondary, supplementary, inferior, minor, smaller.
ex: pabbajā: ascetic life > anu·pabbajā: discipleship in ascetism

majjha: average > anu·majjha: mediocre

pavatteti: to set in motion > anu·pavatteti: to keep in motion

6. each, every, one by one.
ex: disā: direction > anu·disā: each direction

pubba: previous, former > anu·pubba: 'each after the previous one' ie. gradual

pañcāha: five days > anu·pañcāha: every five days.

remark: also spelt pati-; before vowels becomes, pacc-
ex: paṭi+attaṃ= pacc·attaṃ

1. back, away from.
ex: patha: path, way > paṭi·patha: the opposite way.

kamati: to step > paṭi·kkamati: to step back, to retreat.

āneti: to bring > paṭi·āneti: to bring back.

2. against in opposition, contrary.
ex: karoti: to do, make > paṭi·karoti: to redress, repair, act against, be cautious.

manteti: to consult, take counsel > paṭi·manteti: to discuss in argument, refute.
remark: In this sense, opposed to anu-.
ex: sota: stream > anu·sota: with the stream; paṭi·sota: against the stream.

3. in return, in exchange (in revenge).
ex: bhāsati: to speak > paṭi·bhāsati: to speak back, to reply.

bhaṇḍa: goods, merchandise > paṭi·bhaṇḍa: merchandise in exchange, barter.

māreti: to kill > paṭi·māreti: to kill in revenge.

4. to, on to, up to, towards, at.
ex: jānāti: to know > paṭi·jānāti: to acknowledge, agree to, approve of.

5. again, a second time (Eng. re-).
ex: dasseti: to show, exhibit > paṭi·dasseti: to show up again, reappear.

nijjhatta: pacified > paṭi·nijjhatta: re-pacified.

sandhi: union > paṭi·sandhi: reunion (with a body), reincarnation.

6. secondary, minor.
ex: aṅga: limb > paṭi·aṅga: minor limb.

7. comparison.
ex: puggala: person > paṭi·puggala: rival, compeer.

8. sham.
ex: nāsikā: nose > paṭi·nāsikā: false nose.

sīsaka: top knot > paṭi·sīsaka: sham top knot.


saṃ- (or sam-):

1. conjunction, closer connection = with, along, together.
ex: yutta: yoked, connected > saṃyutta: bound together, grouped.

vasati: to live > saṃvasati: to live together with

2. completeness, or accentuation of the meaning = thoroughly, quite, fully, perfectly. It often equals pa- with which it gets combined in sampa-.
ex: bodhi: awakening > sambodhi: complete awakening

jāna: knowing > sampajāna: knowing thoroughly.

3. pleonastic, without really modifying the meaning.
ex: bojjhaṅga: factor of awakening > sambojjhaṅga: factor of awakening.


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