word-forming element meaning "down, downward," but also "through, on, against, concerning," etc., from Latinized form of Greek kata-, before vowels kat-, from kata "down, downward, down from, down to," from PIE *kmt- "down, with, along" (source also of Hittite kattan (adv.) "below, underneath," katta "along with"). Occasionally in Greek it had senses of "against" (catapult) or "wrongly" (catachresis), also "along, through, over, across, concerning." Also sometimes used as an intensive or with a sense of completion of action (catalogue). Very active in ancient Greek, this prefix is found in English mostly in words borrowed through Latin after c. 1500.
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-.
word-forming element meaning "toward; against; before; near; across; down," also used as an intensive, from Latin ob (prep.) "in the direction of, in front of, before; toward, to, at, upon, about; in the way of; with regard to, because of," from PIE root *epi, also *opi "near, against" (see epi-).
word-forming element meaning "killer," from French -cide, from Latin -cida "cutter, killer, slayer," from -cidere, combining form of caedere "to strike down, chop, beat, hew, fell, slay," from Proto-Italic *kaid-o-, from PIE root *kae-id- "to strike." For Latin vowel change, see acquisition. The element also can represent "killing," from French -cide, from Latin -cidium "a cutting, a killing."
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").
before vowels chaet-, word-forming element meaning "hair," also, in scientific use, "spine, bristle," from Latinized form of Greek khaite "long, loose, flowing hair" (of persons, also of horses, lions), from an old PIE word for "hair, mane," source also of Avestan gaesa- "curly hair," gaesu- "'curly haired," Modern Persian ges "hair that hangs down, curls;" Middle Irish gaiset "bristly hair."
The Latin word also denoted "agency by; source, origin; relation to, in consequence of." Since classical times usually reduced to a- before -m-, -p-, or -v-; typically abs- before -c-, -q-, or -t-.
word-forming element meaning "bad, ill; hard, difficult; abnormal, imperfect," from Greek dys-, inseparable prefix "destroying the good sense of a word or increasing its bad sense" [Liddell & Scott], hence "bad, hard, unlucky," from PIE root (and prefix) *dus- "bad, ill, evil" (source also of Sanskrit dus-, Old Persian duš- "ill," Old English to-, Old High German zur-, Gothic tuz- "un-"), a derivative of the root *deu- (1) "to lack, be wanting" (source of Greek dein "to lack, want").
Very productive in ancient Greek, where it could attach even to proper names (such as dysparis "unhappy Paris"); its entries take up nine columns in Liddell & Scott. Among the words formed from it were some English might covet: dysouristos "fatally favorable, driven by a too-favorable wind;" dysadelphos "unhappy in one's brothers;" dysagres "unlucky in fishing;" dysantiblepos "hard to look in the face."