Quick Summary

The prefix per-, besides meaning “through,” can also act as an intensive prefix, adding emphasis to a given word’s root. An intensive prefix can be effectively translated as “thoroughly” or “very” to highlight its emphatic function. For instance, the prefix per-, such as in perfect, means to do something so “thoroughly” that nothing more can be done to it.

Thoroughly Perfect "Per-!"

Prefixes can emphasize roots of words to which they are attached; in this capacity they are known as intensive prefixes. Today we will explore the prefix per-, which besides meaning “through” can also be translated as “thoroughly” when it acts as an intensive.

The prefix per-, most commonly meaning “through,” appears in such words as permeate, go “through” and permit, send “through.” Per-, however, can also act as an intensive, highlighting or emphasizing the meaning of root words which it precedes. For instance, if you got a perfect score on a test, you did it so “thoroughly” that it couldn’t have been done any better! Such perfection is rare, as most of the time there is an imperfection or two of some kind, making a test not “thoroughly” done.

Perhaps in the future you will search for unknown creatures, such as Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster. Imagine that one day you are out in your boat floating on Loch Ness and you perceive Nessie, “thoroughly” capturing her in your line of sight. Say you take a picture, but the image of the monster turns out to be imperceptible, or not “thoroughly” captured, and so cannot be seen very well. This may get you down at first, but if you persist, or “thoroughly” continue in your quest to photograph Nessie, your persistence may at long last pay off by getting perceptible or recognizable evidence, a picture that can be “thoroughly” seized by your mind.

After Roger Patterson took his famous film footage of Bigfoot in 1964 at Bluff Creek in California, he has ever since had to persuade skeptics that the film is real, that is, he has had to make his argument so “thoroughly” sweet that people would believe him. In fact, he has had to persevere, or be “thoroughly” strict with himself in that constant persuasion, for doubters come up every year who just don’t accept that there is a real Bigfoot in the film.

Lest you think that this podcast be perpetual or “thoroughly” going on and on, here shall end the discussion of the intensive prefix per-, which shall not ever again perplex or “thoroughly” twist you up mentally!

  1. perfect: pertaining to something “thoroughly” done
  2. perfection: condition of being “thoroughly” done
  3. imperfection: condition of not being “thoroughly” done
  4. perceive: to “thoroughly” catch something mentally
  5. imperceptible: not capable of being “thoroughly” caught mentally
  6. persist: “thoroughly” do
  7. persistence: state of “thoroughly” doing
  8. perceptible: capable of being “thoroughly” caught mentally
  9. persuade: to make “thoroughly” sweet
  10. persuasion: the act of making “thoroughly” sweet
  11. persevere: to “thoroughly” work on something until it is accomplished
  12. perpetual: of “thoroughly” lasting
  13. perplex: to be “thoroughly” twisted up mentally


  • perfunctory

    A perfunctory action is done with little care or interest; consequently, it is only completed because it is expected of someone to do so.

  • peruse

    If you peruse some written text, you read it over carefully.

  • pernicious

    Something that is pernicious is very harmful or evil, often in a way that is hidden or not quickly noticed.

  • pellucid

    Something that is pellucid is either extremely clear because it is transparent to the eye or it is very easy for the mind to understand.

  • pertinent

    Something that is pertinent is directly related or relevant to the subject under consideration.

  • imperturbable

    If someone is imperturbable, they are always calm and not easily upset or disturbed by any situation, even dangerous ones.

  • perennial

    Something that is perennial lasts a very long time and is enduring.

  • impertinent

    If someone behaves in an impertinent way, they behave rudely and disrespectfully.

  • pertinacious

    Someone who is pertinacious is determined to continue doing something rather than giving up—even when it gets very difficult.

  • peroration

    A peroration is a long speech that sounds impressive but does not have much substance.

  • imperceptible

    Something that is imperceptible is either impossible to be perceived by the mind or is very difficult to perceive.

  • peremptory

    A peremptory action, such as a decree or demand, is authoritative and absolute; therefore, it is not open to debate but must be carried out.

  • permutation

    A permutation is a complete change or total transformation.

  • perpetrate

    If you perpetrate something, you commit a crime or do some other bad thing for which you are responsible.

  • perpetuate

    When you perpetuate something, you keep it going or continue it indefinitely.

  • perplexed

    When you are perplexed about something, you are completely confused or baffled by it.

  • perquisite

    A perquisite is something extra that you receive over and above what you normally get.

  • repercussion

    A repercussion of an act is the result or effect of it.

  • persevere

    When you persevere at a task, you keep on or continue doing it until it is finished.

  • persist

    When you persist in doing something, you keep on or continue doing it faithfully.

  • perceive

    When you perceive something, you see or realize it is present.

  • perform

    When you perform something, such as some work or a play, you complete it or do it.

  • perfect

    Something that is perfect has no errors or problems at all—it is the very best it can be.

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