word-forming element denoting "kinship one degree further removed," early 15c. (in great uncle), from great (adj.), based on similar use of French grand (see grand-). An Old English way of saying "great-grandfather" was þridda fæder, literally "third father;" in early Middle English furþur ealdefader was used (12c.).
before a vowel, anthrop-, word-forming element meaning "pertaining to man or human beings," from Greek anthrōpos "man; human being" (including women), as opposed to the gods, from andra (genitive andros), Attic form of Greek anēr "man" (as opposed to a woman, a god, or a boy), from PIE root *ner- (2) "man," also "vigorous, vital, strong."
Anthropos sometimes is explained as a compound of anēr and ōps (genitive ōpos) "eye, face;" so literally "he who has the face of a man." The change of -d- to -th- is difficult to explain; perhaps it is from some lost dialectal variant, or the mistaken belief that there was an aspiration sign over the vowel in the second element (as though *-dhropo-), which mistake might have come about by influence of common verbs such as horao "to see." But Beekes writes, "As no IE explanation has been found, the word is probably of substrate origin."
word-forming element meaning "one thousand," introduced in French 1795, when the metric system was officially adopted there; irregularly reduced from Greek khilioi "thousand," from PIE *gheslo- "thousand," source also of Sanskrit sahasra-, Avestan hazanjra "thousand." "It is usually assumed that Lat. mille should be connected too" [Beekes]; see milli-. "In the metric system, kilo- means multiplied, & milli- divided, by 1000" [Fowler].
word-forming element meaning "small in size or extent, microscopic; magnifying;" in science indicating a unit one millionth of the unit it is prefixed to; from Latinized form of mikros, Attic form of Greek smikros "small, little, petty, trivial, slight," perhaps from PIE *smika, from root *smik- "small" (source also of Old High German smahi "littleness"), but Beekes thinks it a Pre-Greek word.
word-forming element meaning "many, much, multi-, one or more," from Greek polys "much" (plural polloi), from PIE root *pele- (1) "to fill," with derivatives referring to multitudinousness or abundance. Equivalent to Latin multi-, it is properly used in compounds only with words of Greek origin. In chemical names, usually indicating a compound with a large number of atoms or molecules of the same kind (such as polymer).
word-forming element meaning "below, beneath," from Latin infra (adverb and preposition) "below, underneath, on the under side, beneath," also "later than; smaller than; inferior to," related to infernus "low, below," from PIE *ndher "under" (source also of Sanskrit adnah "below," Old English under "under, among;" see under). Modern popular use of it dates from the 1920s, as an opposite to super-, often in science fiction. "This use of infra- is scarcely a Latin one" [OED].
word-forming element meaning "half, half-sized, partial," used in English from mid-14c., especially in technical terms from French, from Old French demi "half" (12c.), from Late Latin dimedius, from Latin dimidius "half, one-half," which contains the elements dis- "apart" (see dis-) + medius "in the middle, between; from the middle," as a noun "the middle;" from PIE root *medhyo- "middle." Formerly also demy-, and in early use often written as a separate word.
also -art, from Old French -ard, -art, from German -hard, -hart "hardy," forming the second element in many personal names, often used as an intensifier, but in Middle High German and Dutch used as a pejorative element in common nouns, and thus passing into Middle English in bastard, coward, blaffard ("one who stammers"), etc. It thus became a living element in English, as in buzzard, drunkard. The German element is from Proto-Germanic *-hart/*-hard "bold, hardy" (from PIE root *kar- "hard").
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."
word-forming element expressing direction toward or in addition to, from Latin ad "to, toward" in space or time; "with regard to, in relation to," as a prefix, sometimes merely emphatic, from PIE root *ad- "to, near, at."
Simplified to a- before sc-, sp- and st-; modified to ac- before many consonants and then re-spelled af-, ag-, al-, etc., in conformity with the following consonant (as in affection, aggression). Also compare ap- (1).
In Old French, reduced to a- in all cases (an evolution already underway in Merovingian Latin), but French refashioned its written forms on the Latin model in 14c., and English did likewise 15c. in words it had picked up from Old French. In many cases pronunciation followed the shift.
Over-correction at the end of the Middle Ages in French and then English "restored" the -d- or a doubled consonant to some words that never had it (accursed, afford). The process went further in England than in France (where the vernacular sometimes resisted the pedantic), resulting in English adjourn, advance, address, advertisement (Modern French ajourner, avancer, adresser, avertissement). In modern word-formation sometimes ad- and ab- are regarded as opposites, but this was not in classical Latin.