a-, ab-, abs-

(Latin: prefix; from, away, away from)


This prefix is normally used with elements of Latin and French origins (abs- usually joins elements beginning with c, q, or t).

The form ab- is regularly used before all vowels and h; and it becomes a- before the consonants m, p, and v. The prefix apo- has similar meanings.

This list is a very small sample of the multitudes of a-, ab-, abs- prefixes that are available in dictionaries and those in this unit are only meant to present a few examples.



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absorbability (s) (noun), absorbabilities (pl)
1. The state or quality of being able to be wholly interested in something or giving full attention to something or to someone: The absorbability of so much information made him very qualified to complete the project.
2. Being fully involved in doing something that a person wants to achieve: Shirley's absorbabilities while studying at the university resulted in a doctor's degree that was achieved in less time than is normally required.
absorbance (s) (noun), absorbances (pl)
1. The ability of a material or tissue to take in or to collect radiation which depends on temperature and wavelength; expressed as the negative common logarithm of the transmittance (ratio of transmitted energy to incident energy): The new equipment in the laboratory was able to effectively measure the absorbance of Grace's diseased tissue.
2. A measure of the extent to which a substance transmits light or other electromagnetic radiations: Absorbance varies with factors: such as, wavelength, solution concentration, and path length.
absorbefacient (s) (noun), absorbefacients (pl)
1. That which causes or takes something in by sucking it up and incorporating it into something: The new sponge is a great absorbefacient to use when cleaning the windows.
2. An agent that causes the soaking up or the taking in of liquids by solids: Adding the right kind of absorbefacient to the spill on the garage floor made it easier to clean up the mess.
absorbefacient (adjective), more absorbefacient, most absorbefacient
A reference to something that induces, promotes, or causes the passage of substances across and into tissues: In the medical laboratory, Linda was studying the absorbefacient processes of digested food molecules into intestinal cells and the passage of liquids into kidney tubules.
absorbency (s) (noun), absorbencies (pl)
1. That which is capable of attracting and taking substances into itself: Certain cloth materials have greater absorbency than others.
2. Substances or products that can soak up liquids or gases: Are there differences in the absorbencies of salt water versus unsalted water for gases?
absorbent (s) (noun), absorbents (pl)
1. That which is capable of attracting and including substances into itself: Randy bought a new sponge which is the best absorbent he has ever used.
2. A product or substance which can collect liquids or gases: The new powder-like substance is a great absorbent when cleaning up the oils and grease at the auto mechanic's work shop.
2. Any substance that takes in fluids through its sensible or insensible porosity; applied in a special sense in medicine to such substances as chalk or magnesia that take in the acidity of the stomach: Certain forms of magnesium can work as an absorbent when administered as a laxative.
absorbent cotton (s) (noun), absorbent cottons (pl)
Cloth material that comes from certain plants that is used in surgical dressings and for other medicinal or cosmetic purposes: The absorbent cotton is always sterilized before it arrives at the hospital and is used during surgery.
absorbent dressing (s) (noun), absorbent dressings (pl)
A sterile covering of a material that is applied to a wound or incision to remove secretions: Various kinds of absorbent dressings include teflon-coated gauze squares, fluffed gauze, and abdominal bandages.
absorbent gauze (s) (noun), absorbent gauzes (pl)
A fabric or pad with various forms, weights, and uses: Absorbent gauzes may be rolled, single-layered fine fabrics for spiral bandages, or they may be thick, multilayered pads for sterile pressure dressings and there may also be adhesive backings all of which are used to collect or to remove unwanted or harmful fluids.
absorber (s) (noun), absorbers (pl)
1. A material or device that collects solar radiation: The factory in Julie's town manufactured absorbers for use in the solar energy sector.
2. The material that readily gathers photons to generate charge carriers (free electrons or holes): The instructor tried to explain the different materials that could be used as absorbers.
absorption (s) (noun), absorptions (pl)
1. The taking up of liquids by solids, or of gases by solids or liquids: Judy's mother used a special cloth to facilitate the absorption of the spilled milk.
2. The taking up of light or of its rays by black or colored rays: The absorption of the light by the black cloth seemed to be adequate.
3. The taking up by the body of radiant heat, causing a rise in body temperature: Stanley's higher temperature was caused by the absorption of the heat from the sun when he was at the beach.
4. The reduction in intensity of an X-ray photon as it passes through a substance or a beam of light as it passes through a solution which is used in clinical photometry as well as nuclear methods: At the laboratory the technicians were able to monitor the absorption of the electromagnetic energy as it passed through the blue solution.
5. The passage of a substance through some surface of the body into body fluids and tissues; such as, the passage of ether through the respiratory epithelium of the lungs into the blood during anesthesia or the passage of oil of wintergreen through the skin (which is the result of several processes: diffusion, filtration, and osmosis): Rodney, the anesthesiologist, frequently checked the level of absorption of the ether during the surgery.
6. The process by which a liquid or gas is drawn into the permeable pores of a solid material: The clean gauze bandage slowed the absorption of the blood from the wound.
7. In physiology, the passage of substances across and into tissues; such as, the passage of digested food molecules into intestinal cells or the passage of liquid into kidney tubules: The various types of medical absorptions include: agglutinin absorption, cutaneous absorption, external absorption, intestinal absorption, parenteral absorption, and pathological absorption.
absorptive (adjective), more absorptive, most absorptive
Referring to anything that has the capacity or tendency to soak up liquids: The absorptive gauzes that the doctors used during the surgery were an essential part of the medical procedures.
abstain (ab STAYN, uhb STAYN) (verb), abstains; abstained; abstaining
1. Choosing not to do or to have something: Clarence is abstaining from taking part in the discussion.
2. The process of choosing not to vote for or against something: Seven members voted for the proposal, three voted against it, and four abstained.
3. To hold oneself back or to voluntarily do without something by refraining from doing it: It is a struggle to abstain from eating a large slice of chocolate birthday cake.
4. Etymology: from Latin abs-, "from" + tenere, "to hold".
To voluntarily stop consuming food or certain drinks.
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To refrain voluntarily from indulgence of the appetities.
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abstainer (s) (noun), abstainers (pl)
1. A person who chooses to avoid doing something regarded as improper or unhealthy; especially, the drinking of alcoholic beverages or the smoking of cigarettes: The members of the club were all abstainers from the use of alcohol or tobacco.
2. Those who practice self-denial as a spiritual discipline: The spiritual hermit on the mountain was renowned as an abstainer from eating meat.
abstaining (adjective), more abstaining, most abstaining
Relating to the avoidance of some activity and not using harmful substances; such as alcohol, drugs, or fatty foods, etc.: The abstaining couple, Mr. and Mrs. Lawson, improved their health and well-being by not using hard liquor or any other kind of intoxicants anymore.