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.

aleukemia, aleukaemia (s) (noun), aleukemias, aleukaemias (pl)
A lack of a diminished total of white blood cell count in the peripheral blood cells: Aleukemia consists of varieties of diseases in which the white cell count of the blood is not normal or is so inadequate that it can even result in death.
aleukocytic (adjective), more aleukocytic, most aleukocytic
A reference to the absence of or extremely reduced numbers of blood cells that engulf and digest bacteria and fungi: Lionel's aleukocytic condition resulted in a lack of normal protection of his body against microorganisms that cause disease.
alexia (s) (noun), alexias (pl)
1. A neurologic disorder marked by loss of the ability to understand written or printed language, usually resulting from a brain lesion or a congenital defect: Alexia is also called "word blindness", "text blindness", and "visual aphasia".

In addition to the previous applicable terms for the word alexia, research has also provided us with "optical alexia", "sensory alexia", and "visual alexia"; however, it is not the same as "motor alexia" (anarthria), in which there is a loss of the power to read out loud although the significance of what is written or printed may be understood.

2. A disorder in reading ability: Alexia is differentiated from dyslexia, which is a developmental problem in reading.

Strictly speaking, lexus and its derivatives refer to speech, not reading, because they are based on the Greek verb legein, "to speak", and not on the Latin verb legere, "to read". Current usage of alexia appears to reflect an etymological error that has been accepted for so long that to insist on correcting it might be useless.

—Compiled from information located in the
Psychiatric Dictionary, 7th Ed., Robert J. Campbell, M.D.;
Oxford University Press; New York; 1996; page 30.
alogia (s) (noun), alogias (pl)
1. The inability to speak because of a mental deficiency or an episode of dementia: Alogia is synonymous in this sense with aphasia which is the partial or total loss of the ability to articulate ideas or comprehend spoken or written language because of damage to the brain caused by an injury or a disease.
2. A deficiency in speech that commonly occurs in schizophrenia: Alogias may result from perceptions of those who become detached, isolated, and remote from reality and from the rest of society.
amastia, amazia (s) (noun); amastias, amazias (pl)
Being without breasts: Amastias result in the absence of the mammary glands either through surgery or because of a developmental defect.
amaurosis (s) (noun), amauroses (pl)
The total loss of vision; especially when it happens without pathological changes to the eye itself: The doctor told Brian that he had a medical condition known as amaurosis which is caused by a disease of his optic nerves and that is why he has lost his ability to see.
Amazon, amazon (s) (noun); Amazons, amazons (pl)
1. A woman or girl soldier; hence, a large, strong masculine-type of female warrior: In full uniform, Mable resembles an Amazon because she is mannish, physically powerful, and seems inclined to be ready to fight anyone who gives her any trouble.
2. Etymology: derived from Greek mythology, a female warrior "without a breast" because of the story that the Amazon women, warriors of Scythia, Greece, were said to cut off (or burn off) one breast to make it easier to use a bow when shooting arrows during a battle.

The Greek fable illustrates the word Amazon that comes from a-, "without" and mazos, "breast".

See this fictional and humorous origin of Amazon on the internet by going to this page.

Usually a tall, strong, and aggressive woman; or originally, a  Greek warrior.
© ALL rights are reserved.

Go to this Word A Day Revisited Index
so you can see more of Mickey Bach's cartoons.

ambrosia (s) (noun), ambrosias (pl)
1. In Greek and Roman mythology, the food or drink of the gods thought to bestow immortality: Do you think that foods like figs dipped in honey are ambrosias and will give us immortality?
2. Something especially delicious to taste or smell: Nadine always thought her mother's baked cakes smelled and tasted like ambrosia.
3. A fruit dessert made of oranges and shredded coconut and sometimes pineapple: The recipe for ambrosia did not specify the exact amounts of each ingredient.
4. Etymology: borrowed perhaps through Middle French ambroysie, or directly from Latin ambrosia, from Greek ambrosia, feminine of ambrosios of the immortals; that is, gods, from ambrotos, "immortal" (a-, "not" + Greek brotos, "mortal" [from earlier mrotos] + -ia, a suffix that forms nouns).
amenorrhea (s) (noun), amenorrheas (pl)
An absence of or an abnormal stoppage of the menses (menstruation): Amenorrhea is a cessation of menstruation or a woman's menstrual-monthly cycles.

Normally, amenorrhea ends naturally in middle age with the beginning of menopause (time when a woman's ovaries and the lining of the uterus prepare an egg for fertilization).

amentia (s) (noun), amentias (pl)
Without normal mental abilities; such as, a congenital intellectual deficiency or retardation: Lionel was diagnosed with amentia because of his psychological disorder which was characterized by confusion, disorientation, and occasionally stupor.
ametria (s) (noun), ametrias (pl)
Absence or nonexistence of the uterus: Ametria is a defect that is present at birth in which a female's uterus is missing.
amicrobic (adjective), more amicrobic, most amicrobic
Not related to nor caused by microorganisms; such as, bacteria, viruses, algae, fungi, and protozoa: The medical laboratory determined that Devin's amicrobic illness was not a result of any known single-celled organisms.
amicroscopic (adjective), more amicroscopic, most amicroscopic
A reference to something that is too small to be seen through a microscope: The biologist was unable to see the amicroscopic bacteria even with a normal microscope; however, he could see them with a much more powerful microscope later.
amimia (s) (noun), amimias (pl)
A loss of the ability to express oneself with signs or gestures: The amimia that Nicolas was experiencing resulted in his inability to express any of his thoughts even with gestures or signs.

A disorder of language that is known as amimia is characterized by a person not being able to express ideas by nonverbal communication; such as, making gestures or understanding what gestures mean.

amnesia (s) (noun); amnesias, amnesiƦ (pl)
A partial or a total loss of or an inability to remember: Susan's mother's amnesia was shown by her inability to recall past experiences or being unable to remember who she was.

Amnesias can be caused by shocks, psychological disturbances, brain injuries, certain kinds of illnesses, or old age.

A man seems to have a loss of memory about a loan.
© ALL rights are reserved.

A man seems to have forgotten about his family.
© ALL rights are reserved.

Go to this Word A Day Revisited Index
for a list of additional Mickey Bach illustrations.