From Boercade

Etymology of re-.png
Line segment & direction.png

Re- has the primitive meaning: "to turn".

We will take "walk" as an example to interprete this.

Walk from A to B. This is the context or precondition. And then, there are two choices:

  1. turn from B back to A.
  2. and then, turn from A to B again.

These two actions both can be prefixed by "re-".

So "re" has two basic meanings: "again" and "back".

The other two meanings "against" and "away" can also easily be interpreted throuth the primitive meaning "to turn".


  1. From the view of A, turning from A to B means "away".
  2. From the view of A, turning from B to A means "against".

For the meaning of "back", it is different with "retro-", you can refer here to see the difference.

Related vocabulary

Vocabulary Word-Formation Meaning
respect re(again) + spect(look) Look again and again at somebody.
reside re(back) + side(sit) Sit back to one place(home) no matter where you go.
resident re(back) + side(sit) + ent(someone who does something) The people who sit back to one place(home) no matter where they go.
resist re(against) + sist(stand) Stand against.
remove re(away) + move(move) Move something away (from a bigger thing).
remote re(away) + mote(move) Of moving away from us.