The LINGUIST List is dedicated to providing information on language and language analysis, and to providing the discipline of linguistics with the infrastructure necessary to function in the digital world. LINGUIST is a free resource, run by linguistics students and faculty, and supported primarily by your donations. Please support LINGUIST List during the 2017 Fund Drive (
Ask Your Question

Synonyms that are Identical Except for Prefix

asked 2017-01-13 11:52:25 -0400

akap gravatar image

What would you call a word that has an identical word except for the prefix that means the exact same thing?

For example: meliorate and ameliorate both mean the same thing flammable and inflammable both mean the same thing

and so on.

I ask in preparation for the GRE. I was given in my study flashcards the word ameliorate, and then in the practice test I had to know what meliorate means ... and I mistakenly assumed it was the opposite of ameliorate. I would like to know the term for this type of word, so I can find on Google a solid list of such words, in preparation for if the GRE throws this wrench again.

edit retag flag offensive close merge delete

1 answer

Sort by ยป oldest newest most voted

answered 2017-01-24 15:46:23 -0400

charshey gravatar image

I don't know if there's a word for what you're talking about. However, there is a thread on reddit where users made a list of words like this:

A related term is auto-autonym, or contranym, where a word can mean two different and opposite things: for example, cleave can mean to cling or to separate. Here's a Wikipedia article:

edit flag offensive delete link more
Login/Signup to Answer

Question Tools

1 follower


Asked: 2017-01-13 11:52:25 -0400

Seen: 45 times

Last updated: Jan 24