word-forming element meaning "man, male, masculine," from Greek andro-, combining form of anēr (genitive andros) "a man, a male" (as opposed to a woman, a youth, or a god), from PIE root *ner- (2) "man," also "vigorous, vital, strong."
Equivalent to Latin vir (see virile). Sometimes in later use it was equivalent to Greek anthrōpos, Latin homo "a person, a human being," and in compounds it often retain this genderless sense (e.g. androcephalous "having a human head," said of monsters including the Sphinx, which in Greece was female).
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."
before vowels ped-, word-forming element meaning "boy, child," from Greek pedo-, combining form of pais "boy, child," especially a son, from PIE root *pau- (1) "few, little." The British form paed- is better because it avoids confusion with the ped- that means "foot" (from PIE root *ped-) and the ped-that means "soil, ground, earth." Compare, from the same root, Sanskrit putrah "son;" Avestan puthra- "son, child;" Latin puer "child, boy," Oscan puklu "child."
word-forming element meaning "under, beneath; behind; from under; resulting from further division," from Latin preposition sub "under, below, beneath, at the foot of," also "close to, up to, towards;" of time, "within, during;" figuratively "subject to, in the power of;" also "a little, somewhat" (as in sub-horridus "somewhat rough"), from PIE *(s)up- (perhaps representing *ex-upo-), a variant form of the root *upo "under," also "up from under." The Latin word also was used as a prefix and in various combinations.
In Latin assimilated to following -c-, -f-, -g-, -p-, and often -r- and -m-. In Old French the prefix appears in the full Latin form only "in learned adoptions of old Latin compounds" [OED], and in popular use it was represented by sous-, sou-; as in French souvenir from Latin subvenire, souscrire (Old French souzescrire) from subscribere, etc.
The original meaning is now obscured in many words from Latin (suggest, suspect, subject, etc.). The prefix is active in Modern English, sometimes meaning "subordinate" (as in subcontractor); "inferior" (17c., as in subhuman); "smaller" (18c.); "a part or division of" (c. 1800, as in subcontinent).