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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abolishment (s) (noun), abolishments (pl)
1. That which has been annulled, done away with , or destroyed: With the abolishment of the school rule about wearing nail polish, the girls were much happier.
2. Anything that has come to an end or stopped: When Vicki was reading the newspaper, she read the column listing all the abolishments which had been carried out by the city council.
abolition (ab" uh LISH uhn) (s) (noun), abolitions (pl)
1. The officially end of a law, a regulation, or a practice: The petition by the people resulted in the abolition of the unfair taxes.

The senator fought for the abolition of the current income tax law.

2. The process of doing away with or the state of being done away with, such as an annulment: The students requested further abolitions of unfair practices at the university.
abolitionism (s) (noun), abolitionisms (pl)
1. A belief or system of beliefs that are accepted as authoritative by some group or school of thought: Abolitionism was one of the driving elements behind the Civil War in the United States.
2. A social movement aimed at liquidating or getting rid of some law or an undesirable practice: Women led the abolitionism against the production of liquor and the operation of taverns and bars.

Abolitionisms, such as indentured workers or slave-working conditions, are often opposed with vigor.

abolitionist (ab" uh LISH uh nist) (s) (noun), abolitionists (pl)
1. Someone who supports getting rid of something, such as a system, a practice, or an institution: Stanley was considered an abolitionist who led the students' cause to eliminate unfair grading systems.

Abolitionists believed that slavery violated the basic human rights of freedom and so they insisted on making slavery illegal by proposing new antislavery laws for the country.

The most influential publication before the Civil War was Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), the best-selling novel and play by Harriet Beecher Stowe, the most famous abolitionist of the time.

Harriet Stowe emphasized the horrors that abolitionists had long claimed about slavery.

2. People who want to destroy a law or practice of some kind: The abolitionists against the cruel treatment of animals included several groups across the entire country.

As an abolitionist, Monroe Jones fought to end the practice of slavery in the United States before the Civil War.

The elimination of slavery and the conflict between the abolitionists and those in favor of slavery were factors that led to the Civil War in America.

abominable (adjective); more abominable, most abominable
1. Loathsome, extremely repugnant, reprehensible, shocking, or offensive: Murder is considered to be one of the most abominable crimes committed by anyone.

Nathan had the abominable habit of chewing his fingernails in public.

2. Extremely unpleasant or of very bad quality, or very unpleasant to experience: The abominable food that was served in the restaurant tasted terrible and Jim told the manager that he could be sure that he and his wife would never go there again.

The abominable weather during the summer was the worst that people had experienced in a long time.

3. Referring to a bad omen; nasty and disgusting; vile; loathsome: The flood included abominable sewerage that had flowed into the basements and ground floor rooms of the houses.
4. Pertaining to a statement that describes something that is deplorable, shocking, or awful: That the homeless were forced out of the shelter this winter was an abominable decision.
5. Etymology: derived from Latin abominari, "to detest something as an ill omen".

From the 14th until the 17th century, the word was spelled abhominable because people thought it came from the Latin phrase ab homine, meaning "away from man", and so, "inhuman, beastly".

Very unpleasant.
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abominate (verb), abominates; abominated; abominating
1. To dislike, to find repugnant, and to intensely disapprove of someone or something: Georgia abominates the smell of strong perfume in a small room.

Allen has always abominated loud music and could not be tempted to attend a rock concert in the local park.

A politician who is revered by his supporters is also often abominated by his opposition.

2. To detest thoroughly; to abhor: There is nothing that abominates Nellie more than the thought of eating raw meat.

The crowd will be abominating the imposition of an early curfew by the local authorities.

The farmers have been abominating the hot and extremely dry weather.

To regard with disgust or hatred.
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To hate to the highest degree.
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Word History

For the ancient Romans, an omen was a sign from the gods or a promise of good or a warning of evil.

Naturally, they turned away in fear from an evil omen. To express this aversion, they combined ab, "away" + omen, "a foreboding, foretelling", into the verb abominari, meaning "to deprecate as ominous", "to abhor"; with a past participle abominatus, the source of English abominate. The word has largely lost its original connotation of dread and has come to mean "to loathe, to hate, to despise".

—Compiled from information located in the
Picturesque Word Origins; G. & C. Merriam Company;
Springfield, Massachusetts, U.S.A; 1933; page 5.
abomination (s) (noun), abominations (pl)
1. An action that is vicious or vile; an action that arouses disgust or extreme hatred: The dirty streets of this city are an abomination!

Stacey's grandfather still has a strong feeling of abomination for the concentration camps that existed in Germany during the Second World War.

2. An emotion of horror, loathing, or shame: Teressa's feeling of abomination for terrorist killings has never changed.
3. Something that is perceived as disgusting, awful, or ill conceived: Some people see the sculpture in the museum exhibition as art, while others see it as an abomination.
Anything that excites disgust, hatred, or loathing.
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That which is hateful and repugnant.
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abominator (s) (noun), abominators (pl)
1. Someone who intensely hates or loathes: The protest march against the building of a new prison was led by a well-known abominator.
2. People who thoroughly detest or abhor other people, things, systems, etc.: An experienced team of abominators meet every month to plan protests and rallies against the laws protecting civic inequality.
aboral (adjective); more aboral, most aboral
Pertaining to something opposite to, away from, or distantly remote from the mouth: Dale held his fork in an aboral position waiting for the food on it to cool enough to put into his mouth.
aboriginal (s) (noun), aboriginals (pl)
The native or indigenous people of a geographical area: The New Zealand aboriginals are said to still hunt with spears.

Indian tribes in America are considered to be the aboriginals in various parts of the country.

aboriginal (ab" uh RIJ uh nuhl) (adjective); more aboriginal, most aboriginal
1. Referring to or pertaining to the native people of a geographical area: There are several aboriginal groups in the United States.

The Indians are the aboriginal people of America.

Some of the aboriginal people of Canada are known as Inuit, "the people".

Mike's sister was enrolled in the Aboriginal Studies program at the local university.

aboriginally (adverb) (not comparable)
A descriptive term referring to where original inhabitants came from: The native people were aboriginally located in the central area of the forests.

There are anthropologists who say that the first aboriginally born Native Americans came from Asia.

aboriginary (adjective); more aboriginary, most aboriginary
1. Describing or relating to the area where the earliest known inhabitants: The aboriginary location of the native people has been established.
2. A reference to where indigenous or original fauna or flora existed or may continue to survive in a geographical area: The animals in these aboriginary regions no longer exist.

The local zoo had an aboriginary section in which the native plants of the region were growing.

aborigine (ab" uh RIJ uh nee) (s) (noun), aborigines (ab" uh RIJ uh neez) (pl)
1. An original inhabitant of a geographical area: The Roman statesman and orator, Cicero, is believed to be the first person to use the term aborigine as it is known in its present sense.
2. A member of the indigenous or earliest known population of a region; a native: Many Australian aborigines still live primitive lives away from cities.
3. The native flora (plants) and fauna (animals) of a geographic area: A special species of poppy is among the aborigines native to the desert area.

The first vegetations, or aborigines, of the region have medicinal properties.

4. Etymology: ab-, "from" + origine, "beginning, original" coming from the Aborigines, an Italian tribe from Latium whom the Latins were said to be descended; hence, "original inhabitants of a country".
A native people who were the earliest known inhabitants.
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abort (uh BORT) (verb), aborts; aborted; aborting
1. To give birth before the fetus, an unborn offspring, is viable or capable of life; to have a miscarriage; to fail to be completed: It was very sad that the baby was aborted because of the injury when the mother fell down the stairs.
2. To cut short because of some failure in equipment: The pilot aborted the flight because of radio failure.

Failure of the radar system will abort the flight of the spaceship until another day.

The family will be aborting their trip to the arctic because of the early onslaught of winter.

3. Etymology: originally, "to set" or "to disappear" (as the sun). Composed of ab-, "from" + oriri- "to arise"; the part of the sky, or the world, in which the sun rises; the East.