De- – definition of de

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(word root) not, down

Abused, Confused, & Misused Words by Mary Embree Copyright © 2007, 2013 by Mary Embree



1. Do or make the opposite of; reverse: decriminalize.

2. Remove or remove from: delouse; deoxygenate.

3. Out of: deplane; defenestration.

4. Reduce; degrade: declass.

5. Derived from: deverbative.

[Middle English de-, from Old French de- (from Latin dē-, from, off, apart, away, down, out, completely, from ; see de- in Indo-European roots) or from Old French des-, out, off, apart, away, completely (from Latin dis-, dis-, and Latin dē-).]

American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


prefix forming verbs and verbal derivatives

1. removal of or from something specified: deforest; dethrone.

2. reversal of something: decode; decompose; desegregate.

3. departure from: decamp.

[from Latin, from (prep) from, away from, out of, etc. In compound words of Latin origin, de- also means away, away from (decease); down (degrade); reversal (detect); removal (defoliate); and is used intensively (devote) and pejoratively (detest)]

Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014



a prefix, occurring orig. in loanwords from Latin, used to form verbs that denote motion or conveyance down from, away, or off (deflect; descend); reversal or undoing of the effects of an action (deflate); extraction or removal of a thing (decaffeinate); thoroughness or completeness of an action (despoil).

[Middle English dē-, prefixal use of (preposition) from, away from, of, out of; in some words, dē- or dis- dis1]


1. Delaware.

2. destroyer escort.


1. Doctor of Engineering.

2. driver education.

Random House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.

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