The three meanings of the English prefix anti-

Learn about the English prefix anti-. Explore words like anticlockwise, anti-war, antiseptic and understand the three meanings that commonly come with this prefix: the opposite, being against something and prevention.

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Click here to see other vocabulary videosprefix anti- video script

I’ve got three meanings of anti- for you. First meaning: the opposite.

Well, that was an anticlimax.

I was expecting an exciting climax but it was the opposite, so it was an anti-climax.
Clocks move clockwise. If they went in the opposite direction, it would be anti-clockwise in British English. An anti-clockwise clock. That would be weird.

Hey, stop! In American English we don’t say anticlockwise. We say counterclockwise.
Are you anti-British English?
Yes. Go American! USA. USA.

And that’s another meaning of anti-. It means opposed to or against. So if you don’t like or you don’t agree with something, you’re anti it.
A lot of people don’t like this so they’re antismoking. Or they may not agree with this so they’re anti-gambling. And lots of people are concerned about this. They don’t want smaller or weaker children getting hurt or frightened so they are anti-bullying.
We might protest about things we don’t like so have rallies or campaigns to show opposition to things like war, nuclear weapons or violence. And the third meaning is tied up with this. It’s the idea of acting to prevent something – to stop it happening.
These guns were built to stop enemy aircraft so they are they are anti-aircraft guns. These pills were designed to prevent depression, so they are antidepressants. This treatment was designed to stop people looking old, so it’s an anti-aging treatment. I’d like some of that. If you don’t want your computer to get viruses then you need antivirus software. And one more.

This mouthwash prevents infections. It’s antiseptic.

It’s antispetic. Great! So we’ve got three meanings but they’re all connected. Preventing something, being the opposite, and being against something.
Is there anything that you’re anti? Tell us in the comments. I hope you’re not anti-English. Click here to learn some more English prefixes and suffixes.

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