word-forming element meaning "of or involving the sacrum," the bone at the base of the spine. As in sacro-iliac "pertaining to the sacrum and the ilium."
consonant cluster that can represent five distinct sounds in English; it first was used by Middle English writers to render Old English sc-, a sound now generally pronounced (and spelled) "-sh-." Sometimes it was miswritten for ch. It also was taken in from German (schnapps) and Yiddish (schlemiel). In words derived from classical languages (school (n.1)), it represents Latin sch-, Greek skh-, but in some of these words the spelling is a restoration and the pronunciation does not follow it (as in schism; Middle English sisme, cisme).
The Yiddish words with it, often derisive or dismissive, tended to come into 20c. American English. In addition to those with entries here, Saul Bellow used schmegeggy, "Portnoy's Complaint" has schmatte "a ragged garment;" schmeck "a sniff" figures in heroin jargon, and schmutz "dirt, filth" has been used. Directly to English from German also are some specialized words: Schmelz "enamel," schmerz "grief, pain, sorrow,"
substituted for the initial sound of a word and reduplicated with it to convey derision (as in "Oedipus schmoedipus" in the punchline of the old joke about the Jewish mother and the psychiatrist), 1929, from the numerous Yiddish words that begin with this sound.
word-forming element in words of Latin origin, "apart, away," from Latin se-, collateral form of sed- "without, apart, aside," probably originally "by one's self, on one's own," and related to sed, Latin reflexive pronoun (accusative and ablative), from PIE *sed-, extended form of root *s(w)e-, pronoun of the third person and reflexive (source also of German sich; see idiom).
before vowels seism-, word-forming element meaning "earthquake," from Greek seismos "a shaking, shock; an earthquake," also "an extortion" (compare colloquial shake (someone) down), from seiein "to shake, agitate, sway; to quake, shiver" from PIE root *twei- "to agitate, shake, toss; excite; sparkle" (source also of Sanskrit tvesati "to excite; to be excited, inflame, sparkle" and words in Avestan for "fears" and "fright, danger").
word forming element indicating "oneself," also "automatic," from Old English use of self (pron.) in compounds, such as selfbana "suicide," selflice "self-love, pride, vanity, egotism," selfwill "free will." Middle English had self-witte "one's own knowledge and intelligence" (early 15c.).
OED counts 13 such compounds in Old English. Middle English Compendium lists four, counting the self-will group as a whole. It re-emerges as a living word-forming element mid-16c., "probably to a great extent by imitation or reminiscence of Greek compounds in (auto-)," and formed a great many words in the pamphlet disputes of the 17c.
word-forming element of Latin origin meaning "half," also loosely, "part, partly; partial, almost; imperfect; twice," from Latin semi- "half" (before vowels often sem-, sometimes further reduced to se- before m-), from PIE *semi- "half" (source also of Sanskrit sami "half," Greek hēmi- "half," Old English sam-, Gothic sami- "half").
The Old English cognate, sam-, was used in such compounds as samhal "in poor health, weakly," literally "half-whole;" samsoden "half-cooked" ('half-sodden'), figuratively "stupid" (compare half-baked); samcucu "half-dead," etymologically "half-alive" (see quick (adj.)); and the lingering survivor, sandblind "dim-sighted" (q.v.).
The Latin element was common in formations from Late Latin, as in semi-gravis "half-drunk," semi-hora "half hour," semi-mortuus "half-dead," semi-nudus "half-naked," semi-vir "half-man, hermaphrodite."
The Latin-derived form in English has been active in forming native words since 15c. Semi-bousi "half-drunk" ('semi-boozy'), now obsolete, was among the earliest (c. 1400). As a noun, semi has variously been short for semi-detached house (by 1912), semi-trailer (by 1942), semi-final (by 1942).
word-forming element meaning "sixty-fourth part," 1660s, a compound of semi- and demi-, both from Latin but unrelated etymologically. The compound prefix came to be used "vaguely in a diminutive sense" [OED]. Also compare demisemiquaver., and, of course, hemidemisemiquaver (1846), which also sometimes appears as semidemisemiquaver (by 1825).
word-forming element meaning "always, ever," from Latin semper "always, ever, at all times, continuously" (literally "once for all"), from PIE *semper-, from root *sem- (1) "one; as one, together with" + *per- "during, for."