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-.
also pleo-, word-forming element meaning "more," from Greek pleiōn "larger, greater in quantity, the more part, very many" (comparative of polys "much"), from PIE *ple- (source also of Latin plere "to fill," plebes, "the populace, the common people;" Greek plēthein "be full," plērēs "full"), possibly a variant of root *pele- (1) "to fill."
word-forming element typically representing cross as a noun, adverb (cross-examine), adjective (crossbar), and in many words a confluence of them. "There is no distinct line of division between cross as an adjective and cross as a prefix. As a prefix, it often represents the adv. cross, or the prep. cross, across." [Century Dictionary]
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 of Greek origin meaning "hater, hatred," before vowels, mis-, from Greek misos "hatred," misein "to hate," of uncertain etymology, perhaps from a Pre-Greek word. It was productive as a word-forming element in ancient Greek, for instance misoagathia "hatred of good or goodness;" misoponein "to hate work." In English it formed many compounds now obscure or recherche, but some perhaps still useful, such as misocapnic (adj.) "hating (tobacco) smoke," misocyny "hatred of dogs," misoneism "hatred of novelty."
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 written forms in French were refashioned after Latin 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.