active word-forming element in English and in many verbs inherited from French and Latin, from Latin de "down, down from, from, off; concerning" (see de), also used as a prefix in Latin, usually meaning "down, off, away, from among, down from," but also "down to the bottom, totally" hence "completely" (intensive or completive), which is its sense in many English words.
As a Latin prefix it also had the function of undoing or reversing a verb's action, and hence it came to be used as a pure privative — "not, do the opposite of, undo" — which is its primary function as a living prefix in English, as in defrost (1895), defuse (1943), de-escalate (1964), etc. In some cases, a reduced form of dis-.
in the metric system, word-forming element denoting one-tenth of the standard unit of measure, 1801, from French deci-, taken arbitrarily from Latin decimus "tenth," from decem "ten" (from PIE root *dekm- "ten").
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.
word-forming element meaning "of or pertaining to skin," from Greek dermat-, from derma "(flayed) skin, leather," from PIE root *der- "to split, flay, peel," with derivatives referring to skin and leather. The shortened form derm- was used from mid-19c. but is considered incorrect.
the usual form of Latin dis- in Old Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Provençal, and French. In Middle English, interchanging with dis- (which in a later period displaced it), hence such form as desarmen, desdein, deshonour, desparagen, deschargen, despisen, etc.
before vowels desm-, word-forming element used in scientific compounds and meaning "band, bond, ligament," from Greek desmos "bond, fastening, chain," related to dein "to bind," from PIE root *dē- "to bind."
before vowels deuter-, word-forming element meaning "second," from Late Latin deutero-, from Greek deuteros "next, second," a word of uncertain origin. According to some sources from duo "two" (from PIE root *dwo- "two"), but according to Watkins the ground sense is "missing" and the Greek word is from PIE *deu-tero-, suffixed form of *deu- (1) "to lack, be wanting." But Beekes doubts even this.
word-forming element of Greek origin meaning "through; in different directions; between," also often merely intensive, "thoroughly;" the form of dia- before vowels.
word-forming element of Greek origin meaning "two, double, twice, twofold," from Greek di-, shortened form of dis "twice," which is related to duo "two" and cognate with bi-, from PIE root *dwo- "two." In chemistry it indicates a compound containing two units of the element or radical to which it is prefixed.