Etymology
Advertisement
para- (1)

before vowels, par-, word-forming element, originally in Greek-derived words, meaning "alongside, beyond; altered; contrary; irregular, abnormal," from Greek para- from para (prep.) "beside, near; issuing from; against, contrary to," from PIE *prea, from root *per- (1) "forward," hence "toward, near; against." Cognate with Old English for- "off, away." Mostly used in scientific and technical words; not usually regarded as a naturalized formative element in English.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
para- (2)

word-forming element of Latin origin meaning "defense, protection against; that which protects from," from Italian para, imperative of parare "to ward off," from Latin parare "make ready" (from PIE root *pere- (1) "to produce, procure"). It figures in parachute, parasol, parapet, etc.

Related entries & more 
ex- 
word-forming element, in English meaning usually "out of, from," but also "upwards, completely, deprive of, without," and "former;" from Latin ex "out of, from within; from which time, since; according to; in regard to," from PIE *eghs "out" (source also of Gaulish ex-, Old Irish ess-, Old Church Slavonic izu, Russian iz). In some cases also from Greek cognate ex, ek. PIE *eghs had comparative form *eks-tero and superlative *eks-t(e)r-emo-. Often reduced to e- before -b-, -d-, -g-, consonantal -i-, -l-, -m-, -n-, -v- (as in elude, emerge, evaporate, etc.).
Related entries & more 
y- 
perfective prefix, in yclept, etc.; a deliberate archaism, introduced by Spenser and his imitators, representing an authentic Middle English prefix y-, earlier i-, from Old English ge-, originally meaning "with, together" but later a completive or perfective element, from Proto-Germanic *ga- "together, with" (also a collective and intensive prefix), from PIE *kom "beside, near, by, with" (cognate with Sanskrit ja-, Latin com-, cum-; see com-). It is still living in German and Dutch ge-, and survives, disguised, in some English words (such as alike, aware, handiwork).

Among hundreds of Middle English words it formed are yfallen, yhacked ("completely hacked," probably now again useful), yknow, ymarried, ywrought.
Related entries & more 
e- 

the later Romans evidently found words beginning in sc-, sp-, st- difficult or unpleasant to pronounce; in Late Latin forms begin to emerge in i- (such as ispatium, ispiritu), and from 5c. this shifted to e-. The development was carried into the Romanic languages, especially Old French, and the French words were modified further after 15c. by natural loss of -s- (the suppression being marked by an acute accent on the e-), while in other cases the word was formally corrected back to the Latin spelling (for example spécial). Hence French état for Old French estat for Latin status, etc. It also affected Romanic borrowings from Germanic (such as espy, eschew).

A different e- is a reduced form of Latin ex- before consonants (see ex-), and the e- in enough is an unfelt survival of an Old English alternative form of ge-.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
a- (1)

prefix or inseparable particle, a relic of various Germanic and Latin elements.

In words derived from Old English, it commonly represents Old English an "on, in, into" (see on (prep.)), as in alive, above, asleep, aback, abroad, afoot, ashore, ahead, abed, aside, obsolete arank "in rank and file," etc., forming adjectives and adverbs from nouns, with the notion "in, at; engaged in." In this use it is identical to a (2).

It also can represent Middle English of (prep.) "off, from," as in anew, afresh, akin, abreast. Or it can be a reduced form of the Old English past participle prefix ge-, as in aware.

Or it can be the Old English intensive a-, originally ar- (cognate with German er- and probably implying originally "motion away from"), as in abide, arise, awake, ashamed, marking a verb as momentary, a single event. Such words sometimes were refashioned in early modern English as though the prefix were Latin (accursed, allay, affright are examples).

In words from Romanic languages, often it represents reduced forms of Latin ad "to, toward; for" (see ad-), or ab "from, away, off" (see ab-); both of which by about 7c. had been reduced to a in the ancestor of Old French. In a few cases it represents Latin ex.

[I]t naturally happened that all these a- prefixes were at length confusedly lumped together in idea, and the resultant a- looked upon as vaguely intensive, rhetorical, euphonic, or even archaic, and wholly otiose. [OED]
Related entries & more