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Amethyst Etymology

The ancient Greeks believed that the precious purple stone called an amethyst had the power to prevent a person from becoming intoxicated. That belief is reflected in the name of this gem, which comes from the Greek prefix a- meaning...

Episode 1507


A clever pun can make the difference between a so-so phrase and a memorable one. The phrase “the last straw” refers to an old fable about too many items in a load, but it takes on a whole new meaning in a public-awareness campaign about...

Prefixes and Suffixes Word Game

Some 50 years ago, says Susan from Burbank, California, she and a friend made up a game involving prefixes and suffixes, which led to such nonsense words as epidormithry and postpreparize. This is part of a complete episode.

Getting Meta with Meta

A listener in Greenville, Tennessee, wonders about how the word meta went from prefix to adjective. Meta is simply a word used to describe something that’s about itself. This is part of a complete episode.


Why does the prefix in- sometimes make a synonym rather than an antonym? In the case of invaluable, the prefix is still a negation, since it suggests that something’s value is incalculable. Michael Quinion‘s website affixes.org shows how...