before vowels, hol-, word-forming element meaning "whole, entire, complete," from Greek holos "whole, entire, complete," also "safe and sound;" as a noun, "the universe," as an adverb, "on the whole;" from PIE *sol-wo-, from root *sol- "whole." Often translated as whole, which it resembles but with which it apparently has no etymological connection.
word-forming element meaning "all," from Latin omni-, combining form of omnis "all, every, the whole, of every kind," a word of unknown origin, perhaps literally "abundant," from *op-ni-, from PIE root *op- "to work, produce in abundance."
word-forming element meaning "all, every, whole, all-inclusive," from Greek pan-, combining form of pas (neuter pan, masculine and neuter genitive pantos) "all," from PIE *pant- "all" (with derivatives found only in Greek and Tocharian).
Commonly used as a prefix in Greek (before a labial pam-; before a guttural pag-), in modern times often with nationality names, the first example of which seems to have been Panslavism (1846). Also panislamic (1881), pan-American (1889), pan-German (1892), pan-African (1900), pan-European (1901), pan-Arabism (1930).
word-forming element meaning "old," from Greek presby-, combining form of presbys "elderly, aged," as a noun, "elder, old man," which is of uncertain and much debated origin and phonetic development (some Doric forms have -g- in place of -b-). The first element is likely *pres- "before, in front" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "in front of, before, first"). Perhaps the whole originally meant "one who leads the cattle," from the root of bous "cow." Watkins, however, has it from PIE *pres-gwu- "going before," with second element from root *gw-u- "going," a suffixed form of root *gwa- "to come."
respelling of Old English hw- attested from 11c., but not the common form until after c. 1400. It represents PIE *kw-; in German reduced to simple w-, in Scandinavian as hv-, kv-, or v-.
It also was added unetymologically to some borrowed words (whisk, whiskey) and some native words formerly spelled with simple w- or h- (whole, whore). In the 15c. flowering of its use it also threatened to change the spelling of hot, home and many more. In northern English 16c.-18c., sometimes altered to quh- (see Q). Proper pronunciation has been much in dispute in educated speech.
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.
before vowels often sem-, a word-forming element of Latin origin meaning "half," also loosely, "part, partly; partial, almost; imperfect; twice," from Latin semi- "half," 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).