English Grammar Dis Prefix – Definition, Synonyms | Prefix Dis Meaning & Examples

Prefixes are handy tools that create an impact on the Root Words that it attaches to. Among prefixes, negative prefixes are those which turn the root word into the negative. One of the most common negative prefixes used in English is “dis,”. The addition of the “dis” prefix adds ‘not’ or ‘incorrectly’ to the root word.

So, where does the “dis” prefix come from? The prefix ‘dis-‘ has its origin in Latin, where it has the literal meaning ‘apart’. Today the prefix is commonly used to mean ‘opposite of’, ‘not’, ‘remove’ and ‘reverse’. It also has other meanings besides attributing a negative connotation. The common meanings include:

  • Apart
  • Lack of, or not
  • Away
  • Utterly

As mentioned, when you add “dis” to a word you often get a contrary meaning. Some examples include:

  • Honest – dishonest
  • Respect – disrespect
  • Please – displease
  • Allow – disallow
  • Trust – distrust
  • Similar – dissimilar

Example of Words with Prefix dis

Now that you know what a “de” prefix is, have a look at a few words that contain the prefix:

  • Disappointed
  • Disapproval
  • Disgust
  • Disbelief
  • Disrespect
  • Disgrace
  • Dismay
  • Disinterest
  • Distaste
  • Disregard
  • Discourage
  • Disdain
  • Discomfort
  • Displeasure
  • Dislike
  • Distrust

Prefixes similar to dis

Two prefixes “mis” and “un” are similar to “dis” and are used interchangeably in some cases.

1) “dis” and “mis”

The prefixes “dis” and “mis” are similar. The prefix “mis” can mean badly, unfavorably, or wrongly. Examples include:
misbehave, mismatch, mistake, etc. In some instances, “dis” and “mis” are interchangeable. For example trust – distrust – mistrust.

However, it is not possible to substitute “dis” for “mis” in all cases. For example, you cannot use words like “mishonest,” “misallow,” or “missimilar” for words like dishonest, disallow or dissimilar, etc.

2) “dis” and “un”

The prefix “dis” is also similar to “un,” but as with the previous example, it is not possible to substitute one prefix for another at all times. The prefix “un” signifies negation or reversal. Examples:

  • Available – unavailable.
  • Happy – unhappy
  • Wind – unwind

Words such as “organized” can take either of the prefixes dis or un. The words “disorganized” and “unorganized” are words that have very similar meanings. However, there exists a difference because “disorganized,” is usually used to refer to people, while “unorganized” is commonly used to describe a thing or place. For example:
Jake is disorganized and can never set things to order by himself. The event is unorganized.

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FAQs on “dis” Prefix

1. What does the prefix “dis” mean?

The prefix “dis” is a negative prefix that has its origin in Latin. A negative prefix turns the root word into its negative meaning. The literal meaning of “dis” is ‘apart’ and is now commonly used to mean ‘remove”, ‘not’, opposite of’, ‘reverse’ etc.

2. Is “dis” a suffix?

No, “dis” is a negative prefix. The literal meaning of “dis” is ‘apart’ and is now commonly used to mean ‘remove”, ‘not’, opposite of’, ‘reverse’ etc. Examples of words include disrespect, disapproval, disguise, etc.

3. Give an example of the usage of the “dis” prefix to suggest the meaning “apart”?

The literal meaning of “dis” is ‘apart’ and is now commonly used to mean ‘remove”, ‘not’, opposite of’, ‘reverse’ etc. An example of a word that implies the meaning apart is disorder. The word refers to those who are “apart” from the remaining “ordered,” that is, those who are not ordered exist in quite a mess.


“Dis” is a commonly used negative prefix that reverses the meaning of the root word. The literal meaning of the prefix is “apart”, but it also signifies: ‘opposite of’, ‘not’, ‘remove’ and ‘reverse’. An understanding of such negative prefixes will help you easily change a word’s meaning to its opposite. Hence make sure you enrich your vocabulary by learning what the “dis” prefix is!

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