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10.23: The Prefixes Under-, Over-, and Counter-

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12

The Prefixes Under-, Over-, and Counter-

1. Think about what these pairs of words mean:

\begin{align*}&\text{underpass} && \text{overpass}\\ &\text{underripe} && \text{overripe}\\ &\text{underexposed} && \text{overexposed}\\ &\text{underestimate} && \text{overestimate}\\ &\text{underweight} && \text{overweight}\end{align*}

It isn't hard to see what the prefixes under- and over- mean. Under- means “under, beneath, too little.” Over- means “over, above, too much.”

2. The meaning of the prefix counter- is almost as easy to figure out. Compare these pairs of words:

\begin{align*}&\text{attack} && \text{counterattack}\\ &\text{clockwise} && \text{counterclockwise}\\ &\text{rotation} && \text{counterrotation}\end{align*}

Which of these meanings does counter- seem to add to the three words in the right column, “under,” “not,” or “opposite”? ___________________

3. Analyze the following words into prefix and stem, and be ready to talk about what meaning the prefix adds to each stem:

Word = Prefix + Stem
undergrowth =
overgrowth =
overworked =
undercoat =
overalls =
underclothes =
counterflow =
counterweight =
overcoat =
overflow =
underground =
overdose =

4. Add one of the prefixes under-, over- or counter- to each of the words below that you add the meaning given in the left column:

Meaning of Prefix + Stem = Word
“Beneath” + clothes =
“Opposite” + effective =
“Too much” + acting =
“Too little” + statement =
“Opposite” + sign =
“Too much” + stated =
“Opposite” + balance =
“Too much” + react =
“Too little” + achiever =
“Too much” + corrected =
“Too much” + achiever =
“Too little” + exposure =

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