Quick Summary

Prefixes are key morphemes in English vocabulary that begin words. The English prefix per-, which means “through,” appears in hundreds of English vocabulary words, such as perish and person. You can remember that the prefix per- means “through” via the word permanent, for something that is permanent stays intact “through” the years.

A New Perspective on "Per-"

Today we will focus on the prefix per-, which means “through.” Let’s go “through” a number of examples of words with per- in them to make the meaning of this prefix permanent in your memory.

Has anyone ever given you permission to cut in line, sending you “through” others to the front? After you were permitted to do so, did you perspire or have sweat breathe “through” your skin as others gave you the evil eye? Wouldn’t it be great if you could permanently go to the front of any line, thereby remaining there “through” all time? Then that privilege would only end after you perish, or go completely “through” your lifetime.

People go “through” things every day. Imagine life where you live. A man you know might perambulate, or walk “through” your neighborhood with his dog. The artist living next door might need to perforate a piece of metal for a sculpture, or bore holes “through” it. The gardener across the street might be planting perennials, or flowers that come up “through” the years, reappearing again and again. This gardener might also be watering her vegetables in permeable soil, which allows water to pass “through” it.

Courthouses are pervasive in this country, or go “through” it from one end to the other. Some unwilling visitors to those courts might have committed perfidy, or broke a promise of some kind by disloyally going “through” another’s trust. An example of such perfidy in the courtroom is perjury, or swearing “through” one’s oath to tell the truth, hence lying during the courtroom proceedings. Imagine a poor judge who has to spend so many hours listening to all these problems—at some point the judge might consider her duties merely perfunctory, just wanting to get “through” with them already.

Now you should permanently be one of those persons who knows that the prefix per- means “through.” Oh, and the word “person?” The face “through” which you speak is you, a person “through” whom the prefix per- frequently sounds.

  1. permission: act of sending “through” a request
  2. permit: to send “through” a request
  3. perspire: to have sweat breathe “through” your skin
  4. permanent: a staying “through”
  5. perish: to go completely “through” a lifetime
  6. perambulate: to walk “through” a place or area
  7. perforate: to punch or bore holes “through” a material
  8. perennial: of coming up “through” the years
  9. permeable: capable of passing “through”
  10. pervasive: of going “through”
  11. perfidy: act of going “through” another’s trust
  12. perjury: swear “through” an oath
  13. perfunctory: of just getting “through” something
  14. person: one who sounds “through” a face


  • impervious

    If you are impervious to things, such as someone's actions or words, you are not affected by them or do not notice them.

  • peregrination

    A peregrination is a long journey or act of traveling from place to place, especially by foot.

  • perfidious

    Someone who is perfidious is not loyal and cannot be trusted.

  • pervasive

    If something is pervasive, it appears to be everywhere.

  • permeate

    When a substance permeates something, it enters into all parts of it.

  • perspicacity

    Someone who demonstrates perspicacity notices or understands things very quickly.

  • paramount

    Something that is of paramount importance or significance is chief or supreme in those things.

  • parvenu

    A parvenu is someone who has recently become wealthy or more powerful and consequently has achieved a higher social position; nevertheless, they have yet to be socially accepted by their new peers due to their unfamiliarity with advanced social status.

  • permit

    If someone permits you to do something, they allow you to do it.

  • perish

    When someone perishes they die, usually due to violence.

Differentiated vocabulary for your students is just a click away.