a-, an-

(Greek: prefix; no, absence of, without, lack of; not)

These prefixes are normally used with elements of Greek origin, a- is used before consonants and an- is used before vowels.

It affects the meanings of hundreds of words.

There are too many words that use these prefix elements to list all of them on this site; however, there are significant examples listed in this and the other units where they exist.

acedia (or) accidie (s) (noun) (no plural form)
1. Laziness or indifference in religious matters or spiritual apathy or boredom in the practice of virtue: Every time Clifton had to attend church, a sense of acedia came over him; despite the fact that it has been personified as one of the deadly sins.
2. A mental syndrome, consisting of listlessness, carelessness, apathy, and melancholia (extreme depression): The patient was suffering from acedia which included indifference and a sluggish mental condition.
3. Etymology: from Late Latin, from Greek akedeia, indifference; a-, "no, not" + kedos, "care, concern".
acellular (adjective), more acellular, most acellular
Not containing any cells, or lacking any intact cells: Viruses are one example of acellular structures.

The term acellular did not come into use until the 1940s when the development of cellular technology came into existence and; as a result, it became a better study of cellular composition.

acenesthesia (noun), acoenaesthesia (s); acenesthesias, acoenaesthesias (pl)
1. Absence of the normal sense of physical existence and well-being and of the regular functioning of the bodily organs: Felix was hospitalized so the medical teams could diagnose the acenesthesia of his lower bodily organs.
2. Absence of any feeling of physical existence; a common symptom in many psychiatric conditions: Florence appeared to be in a state of acenesthesia as she described her feeling of not being physically present.
acentric (adjective) (not comparable)
Pertaining to something that is not in the middle of a space or area; not located in a middle position; without a center: Verna's drawing appeared to have an acentric quality about it because there was nothing specifically in the center of her artistic composition.
acephalia (s) (noun) (no plural)
1. The absence of a head; having no head: The strange lizard appeared to be an acephalia because its head was difficult to discern.
2. Having no leader, ruler, or government head: After the political rebellion, the nation experienced a period of acephalia before a new leader was chosen.
acephalobrachia (s) (noun) (no plural)
The absence of the head and arms which is present at birth, but not necessarily hereditary: The research department at the hospital studied the unusual congenital condition of acephalobrachia.
acephalochiria (s) (noun) (no plural)
Congenital absence of head and hands; a condition that is acquired during fetal development and present at birth: At the university, research was being conducted about those who have acephalochiria conditions.
acephalous (adjective), more acephalous, most acephalous
1. Not having a head or a clearly defined head: Earthworms are obviously acephalous insects.
2. A reference to being without a leader or chief: After the chairperson of the Board of Education resigned, the Board was acephalous until an interim replacement was appointed.
3 Etymology: from Greek akephalos (via Latin), "headless"; from a-, "without" + kephale, "head" + -ous, "characterized by, of the nature of".
Without a leader, headless.
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acheilia, achilia (s) (noun) (no plural)
A condition present at birth in which there is an absence of one or both lips: The surgeon was able to correct Sidney's acheilia by constructing a new lower lip for him.
acheiropody (s) (noun), acheiropodies (pl)
Absence of the hands and feet: Acheiropody is a rare condition and each case is carefully studied by the medical teams at some hospitals.
achondroplasia (s) (noun), achondroplasias (pl)
A congenital bone disorder caused by an abnormal conversion of cartilage into bone, resulting in deformities and dwarfism: In Medieval times, people who suffered from achrondroplasia were often ridiculed and mistreated; later, they were exhibited in traveling circuses.
achromatic, achromic (adjective); more achromatic, more achromic; most achromatic, most achromic
1. A reference to being without color; colorless; unpigmented: Patty's achromatic skin appeared to be a result of her seclusion and being away from the outdoor gardens at the castle.
2. White, gray, or black in appearance: Leland's achromatic photographs were very famous.
3. Transmitting light without any constituent color separation; such as, a lens: The expensive camera was equipped with a specialized lens to allow Irving to take better achromic photographs.
achromatin (s) (noun), achromatins (pl)
The part of a cell nucleus which does not stain readily with basic dyes: The cellular research was complicated by the achromatin which did not respond to dyes.
acinesia, akinesia (s) (noun), acinesias, akinesias (pl)
1. Absence or a lack of movements: Acinesia is a partial or total loss of muscle movements because of peripheral or central nervous system abnormalities.

Mable's acinesia was most obvious when she was trying to swim.

2. An absence of or a decrease of voluntary motion that may range from moderate inactivity to almost complete immobility: The doctor warned Marcos that prolonged use of the wheelchair could result in acinesia of his legs.

With insects, akinesia is a lack of immobility that can be caused by damage to or a loss of sensory organs; such as, the antennae.

aclusion (s) (noun), aclusions (pl)
Absence of the alignment of the opposing teeth surfaces: The dentist told Woodrow that the aclusion of his teeth in the upper and lower jaws indicated that his teeth were not coming together properly when he chewed his food.