off, from

Quick Summary

Prefixes are key morphemes in English vocabulary that begin words. The English prefix de-, which means “off” or “from,” appears in hundreds of English vocabulary words, such as dejected, deduce, and deficient. You can remember that the prefix de- means “from” or “off” via the word descend, or to climb down “from” or “off” a height, such as a mountain.

Deduce Derivatives with De-!

Today we will focus on the prefix de-, which interchangeably means “off” or “from.” Let’s check out the following derivatives that depend upon the Latin preposition de-.

When we study English vocabulary, we find that most English words are derived or come “from” Greek or Latin; these vocabulary words are called derivatives. These Latin and Greek roots help you decide, or cut “off” false meanings of the derivatives to arrive at a decision as to what the word means.

We all depend, or hang “from” the ability of cars to take us from place to place. When you take your foot “off” the gas, your car begins to decelerate, or move down “from” its current speed to a slower velocity. This deceleration may be caused by a traffic jam, making you feel dejected or thrown “off” your customary good mood. There are, however, different degrees of such temporary depression; you could find that when deciduous trees’ leaves begin falling “off” in the autumn, your spirits sink. Or you could be demoted in your job, moved down “from” the position you currently enjoy; perhaps the boss thinks you are deficient in your job performance, doing things “off” of or “from” how they should be done. Worse yet, imagine if you were in Wonderland and the Queen of Hearts gave the order of “Off with his head!” Best to avoid such decapitation at all costs!

Enough doom and gloom about the prefix de- which means “off” or “from.” Some people cannot drink caffeine but still love coffee and tea. Luckily both come in decaffeinated varieties, where the caffeine has been taken “from” the beans or leaves. Say you didn’t know if the coffee you were drinking was decaf or not. You could drink a little, and then deduce, or draw a conclusion “from” your symptoms as to whether or not it contains caffeine. Shaky? Energized?

“Off” with this podcast! Enough of de- to fill up your day—I don’t want to detract or drag you “from” other activities for any longer!

  1. derive: to come “from”
  2. derivative: a word that has come “from” another language
  3. depend: hang “from”
  4. decide: to cut “off” false possibilities or poor options
  5. decision: a cutting “off” of all possibilities but one
  6. decelerate: to move down “from” the current speed to a slower one
  7. dejected: thrown “off” in spirits
  8. depression: pressed “off” or “from” a good mood
  9. deciduous: of leaves falling “from” a tree in autumn
  10. demote: to be moved down “from” a current job status
  11. deficient: of doing tasks “off” from how they should be done
  12. decapitate: to take “off” a head
  13. decaffeinated: state of caffeine having been taken “from” coffee beans or tea leaves
  14. deduce: to arrive at a conclusion by leading evidence “from” a given situation
  15. deduction: a leading “from” evidence to a conclusion
  16. detract: to drag “from”


  • desultory

    Something that is desultory is done in a way that is unplanned, disorganized, and without direction.

  • despondent

    If you are despondent, you are extremely unhappy because you are in an unpleasant situation that you do not think will improve.

  • denouement

    A denouement is the end of a book, play, or series of events when everything is explained and comes to a conclusion.

  • denounce

    If you denounce people or actions, you criticize them severely in public because you feel strongly that they are wrong or evil.

  • delineate

    If you delineate something, such as an idea or situation or border, you describe it in great detail.

  • deference

    If you behave with deference towards someone, you show them respect and accept their opinions or decisions, especially because they have an important position.

  • nondescript

    Something is nondescript when its appearance is ordinary, dull, and not at all interesting or attractive.

  • debonair

    A man who is debonair wears fashionable clothes and is sophisticated, charming, friendly, and confident.

  • condescend

    When people condescend, they behave in ways that show that they are supposedly more important or intelligent than other people.

  • indefatigable

    If someone is indefatigable, they never shows signs of getting tired.

  • defoliate

    Someone defoliates a tree or plant by removing its leaves, usually by applying a chemical agent.

  • devolve

    When something devolves, such as a responsibility or a person's status, it passes along to another person.

  • desecrate

    If you desecrate something that is considered holy or very special, you deliberately spoil or damage it.

  • decipher

    When you decipher a message or piece of writing, you work out what it says, even though it is very difficult to read or understand.

  • decadent

    A decadent person has low moral standards and is more interested in pleasure than serious matters.

  • despicable

    If you say a person's actions are despicable, you think they are extremely unpleasant or nasty.

  • detritus

    Detritus is the small pieces of waste that remain after something has been destroyed or used.

  • deprecate

    If you deprecate something, you disapprove of it strongly.

  • debunk

    When you debunk someone's statement, you show that it is false, thereby exposing the truth of the matter.

  • deficit

    A deficit occurs when a person or government spends more money than is received.

  • defunct

    Something that is defunct is no longer in existence or does not function.

  • degenerate

    A degenerate person is immoral, wicked, or corrupt.

  • demented

    A demented person is not in their right mind; hence, they are crazy, insane, and highly irrational.

  • depredation

    Depredation can be the act of destroying or robbing a village—or the overall damage that time can do to things held dear.

  • derivative

    A derivative is something borrowed from something else, such as an English word that comes from another language.

  • derogatory

    A derogatory statement about another person is highly offensive, critical, uncomplimentary, and often insulting.

  • designation

    A designation is a name, label, or mark that something is given in order to identify it.

  • destitute

    Someone who is destitute lives in extreme poverty and thus lacks the basic necessities of life.

  • deterrent

    A deterrent keeps someone from doing something against you.

  • detrimental

    Something detrimental causes damage, harm, or loss to someone or something.

  • deviate

    When someone's behavior deviates from the norm, they act differently than other people; when someone deviates from a given course, they go in a different direction.

  • legerdemain

    Legerdemain is the skillful use of one's hands or the employment of another form of cleverness for the purpose of deceiving someone.

  • predecessor

    A predecessor is someone who precedes someone else in a job or is an ancestor of someone.

  • demarcation

    Demarcation is the process of setting boundaries or limits; it is also a line that provides a distinct separation between two things.

  • deplete

    When you deplete a supply of something, you use it up or lessen its amount over a given period of time.

  • deceitful

    Someone who is deceitful is false, tricky, or dishonest.

  • despair

    When you are experiencing despair, you feel hopeless or believe that you are undergoing certain and miserable defeat.

  • devious

    Someone who is being devious is purposefully being dishonest, tricky, not straightforward, or secretive for an underhanded purpose.

  • descendant

    A descendant is the offspring or child of a person or is someone who can be traced back to an ancestor.

  • indeterminate

    When a piece of information is indeterminate, it cannot be known with certainty.

  • deracinate

    When someone is deracinated, they are uprooted or removed from their natural environment.

  • descry

    When you descry something, you detect, discover, discern, or see it.

  • descend

    When you descend something, such as stairs or a mountain, you go down it.

  • desperate

    If you are desperate, you don't know what to do about a difficult situation; therefore, you are very worried about it and willing to do just about anything to make it better.

  • independent

    Someone who is independent takes care of themselves and does not rely on anyone else or on any thing.

  • desire

    A desire is something that you want or wish you had, that is, it is a longing for something.

  • decide

    When you decide something, you settle on it, make a choice, or form a thought about it.

  • dedicate

    When you dedicate yourself to something, you put forth a lot of your time, attention, and effort towards doing it.

  • depend

    When you depend on another person, you rely on them or need them to do something for you.

  • decay

    When something decays, it breaks down in a slow process of being destroyed.

  • deceive

    When you deceive another person, you trick them in some way, often by making them believe that something is true when it actually is not.

  • describe

    When you describe something, you say or explain what it is or was like.

  • defend

    When you defend someone from getting hurt or from being attacked, you keep that person safe by protecting or guarding them.

  • depress

    If someone is depressed by something, they become unhappy and disappointed with life for a long period of time, and so they don't really want to do much of anything.

  • detail

    A detail of something is a fact about it or an individual part of it.

  • design

    When you design something, you prepare, plan, or create it.

  • degree

    The degree of something is the size, amount, level, or strength of it.

  • detect

    When you detect something, you uncover or discover something that had previously been hidden from view.

  • destruction

    The destruction of something is the causing of so much damage to it that it can never be repaired or returned to its original state.

  • determine

    When you determine something, you figure it out or decide about it.

Related Word Parts

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