word-forming element meaning "beyond" (ultraviolet) or "extremely" (ultramodern), from Latin ultra- from ultra (adv. and prep.) "beyond, on the other side, on the farther side, past, over, across," from PIE *ol-tero-, suffixed form of root *al- "beyond." In common use from early 19c., it appears to have arisen from French political designations. As its own word, a noun meaning "extremist" of various stripes, it is first recorded 1817, from French ultra, shortening of ultra-royaliste "extreme royalist."
word-forming element of Greek origin meaning 1. "after, behind; among, between," 2. "changed, altered," 3. "higher, beyond;" from Greek meta (prep.) "in the midst of; in common with; by means of; between; in pursuit or quest of; after, next after, behind," in compounds most often meaning "change" of place, condition, etc. This is from PIE *me- "in the middle" (source also of German mit, Gothic miþ, Old English mið "with, together with, among").
The notion of "changing places with" probably led to the senses of "change of place, order, or nature," which was a principal meaning of the Greek word when used as a prefix (but it also denoted "community, participation; in common with; pursuing").
The third, modern, sense, "higher than, transcending, overarching, dealing with the most fundamental matters of," is due to misinterpretation of metaphysics (q.v.) as "science of that which transcends the physical." This has led to a prodigious erroneous extension in modern usage, with meta- affixed to the names of other sciences and disciplines, especially in the academic jargon of literary criticism: Metalanguage (1936) "a language which supplies terms for the analysis of an 'object' language;" metalinguistics (by 1949); metahistory (1957), metacommunication, etc.
word-forming element of Latin origin meaning "backwards; behind," from Latin retro (prep.) "backward, back, behind," usually in reference to place or position, rarely of time, "formerly, in the past," probably originally the ablative form of *reteros, based on re- "back" (see re-).
L. retro stands to re- as intro, "in, within"; to in, "in," and as citro, "hither," stands to cis, "on this side." [Klein]
Common in combinations in post-classical Latin (the classical equivalent was post-). Active in English as a word-forming element from mid-20c.
word-forming element meaning "old," from Greek presby-, combining form of presbys "elderly, aged," as a noun, "elder, old man," which is of uncertain and much debated origin and phonetic development (some Doric forms have -g- in place of -b-). The first element is likely *pres- "before, in front" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "in front of, before, first"). Perhaps the whole originally meant "one who leads the cattle," from the root of bous "cow." Watkins, however, has it from PIE *pres-gwu- "going before," with second element from root *gw-u- "going," a suffixed form of root *gwa- "to come."
respelling of Old English hw- attested from 11c., but not the common form until after c. 1400. It represents PIE *kw-; in German reduced to simple w-, in Scandinavian as hv-, kv-, or v-.
It also was added unetymologically to some borrowed words (whisk, whiskey) and some native words formerly spelled with simple w- or h- (whole, whore). In the 15c. flowering of its use it also threatened to change the spelling of hot, home and many more. In northern English 16c.-18c., sometimes altered to quh- (see Q). Proper pronunciation has been much in dispute in educated speech.
word-forming element meaning "forward, forth, toward the front" (as in proclaim, proceed); "beforehand, in advance" (prohibit, provide); "taking care of" (procure); "in place of, on behalf of" (proconsul, pronoun); from Latin pro (adv., prep.) "on behalf of, in place of, before, for, in exchange for, just as," which also was used as a first element in compounds and had a collateral form por-.
Also in some cases from cognate Greek pro "before, in front of, sooner," which also was used in Greek as a prefix (as in problem). Both the Latin and Greek words are from PIE *pro- (source also of Sanskrit pra- "before, forward, forth;" Gothic faura "before," Old English fore "before, for, on account of," fram "forward, from;" Old Irish roar "enough"), extended form of root *per- (1) "forward," hence "in front of, before, toward, near," etc.
The common modern sense of "in favor of, favoring" (pro-independence, pro-fluoridation, pro-Soviet, etc.) was not in classical Latin and is attested in English from early 19c.
word-forming element of Greek origin meaning "against, opposed to, opposite of, instead," shortened to ant- before vowels and -h-, from Old French anti- and directly from Latin anti-, from Greek anti (prep.) "over, against, opposite; instead, in the place of; as good as; at the price of; for the sake of; compared with; in opposition to; in return; counter-," from PIE *anti "against," also "in front of, before" (from root *ant- "front, forehead," with derivatives meaning "in front of, before"), which became anti- in Italian (hence antipasto) and French.
It is cognate with Sanskrit anti "over, against," and Old English and- (the first element in answer). A common compounding element in Greek, in some combinations it became anth- for euphonic reasons. It appears in some words in Middle English but was not commonly used in English word formations until modern times. In a few English words (anticipate, antique) it represents Latin ante.
In noun compounds where it has the sense of "opposed to, opposite" (Antichrist, anti-communist) the accent remains on the anti-; in adjectives where it retains its old prepositional sense "against, opposed to," the accent remains on the other element (anti-Christian, anti-slavery).