Entries linking to subspecies
In Latin assimilated to following -c-, -f-, -g-, -p-, and often -r- and -m-. In Old French the prefix appears in the full Latin form only "in learned adoptions of old Latin compounds" [OED], and in popular use it was represented by sous-, sou-; as in French souvenir from Latin subvenire, souscrire (Old French souzescrire) from subscribere, etc.
The original meaning is now obscured in many words from Latin (suggest, suspect, subject, etc.). The prefix is active in Modern English, sometimes meaning "subordinate" (as in subcontractor); "inferior" (17c., as in subhuman); "smaller" (18c.); "a part or division of" (c. 1800, as in subcontinent).
late 14c. as a classification in logic, from Latin species "a particular sort, kind, or type" (opposed to genus), originally "a sight, look, view, appearance," hence also "a spectacle; mental appearance, idea, notion; a look; a pretext; a resemblance; a show or display," typically in passive senses; in Late Latin, "a special case;" related to specere "to look at, to see, behold" (from PIE root *spek- "to observe"). From 1550s as "appearance, outward form;" 1560s as "distinct class (of something) based on common characteristics." Biological sense is from c. 1600. Endangered species is attested by 1964.