Last modified on 23 September 2014, at 15:47


See also: α- and ά-

Ancient GreekEdit


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Particularly: “Is the alpha short or long? Or does it depend on the etymology?”

Alternative formsEdit

  • (used before vowels) ἀν- (an-)

Etymology 1Edit

From Proto-Indo-European *n̥- (not, un-) when followed by a consonant. Cognate with Latin in-, Old Irish in-, an-, Sanskrit अ- (a-). Akin to ἀν- (an-), νη- (nē-), νᾱ- (nā-) and νω- (nō-).


ἀ- (a-)

  1. The alpha privativum, used to make words that have a sense opposite to the word (or stem) to which the prefix is attached. It is also known as privative a and alpha privative.

Etymology 2Edit


ἀ- (a-)

  1. The alpha copulativum, used to express unity; e.g. in α- δελφός "brother" literally "from the same womb". Also known as copulative a and a athroistikon.

Etymology 3Edit


ἀ- (a-)

  1. The alpha intensivum, used to strengthen the force of compounds.

Etymology 4Edit


ἀ- (a-)

  1. The alpha euphonicum, used to soften pronunciation before two consonants.


  • Robert S. P. Beekes (2010) Etymological Dictionary of Greek, Leiden, Boston: Brill Academic Publishers, volume 1, page 1