Privative a


Privative a

The privative "a" (also known as privative alpha or α "privativum") is the prefix "a-" which expresses negation or absence (e.g. "a-theism", ""). Originally described for the grammar of Ancient Greek, it goes back to a Proto-Indo-European syllabic nasal *"unicode|n̥-", the zero ablaut grade of the negation *"ne", i.e. /n/ used as a vowel. For this reason, it appears as "an-" before vowel (e.g. "an-alphabetism", "an-esthesia", "an-archy"). The same prefix appears in Sanskrit, also as "a-", "an-". In Latin, the cognate prefix is "in-", and in West Germanic languages (including English) it is "un-" ("on-" in Dutch). In North Germanic languages, the -"n"- has disappeared and Old Norse has "ú-" (e.g. ú-dáins-akr), Danish and Norwegian have "u-", whereas Swedish uses "o-" (pronounced [u] ), and Icelandic uses the etymologically related "ó".

ee also

*copulative a
*privative


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  • Privative — Priv a*tive, a. [L. privativus: cf. F. privatif. See {Private}.] 1. Causing privation; depriving. [1913 Webster] 2. Consisting in the absence of something; not positive; negative. [1913 Webster] Privative blessings, blessings of immunity,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Privative — Priv a*tive, n. [1913 Webster] 1. That of which the essence is the absence of something. [1913 Webster] Blackness and darkness are indeed but privatives. Bacon. [1913 Webster] 2. (Logic) A term indicating the absence of any quality which might be …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • privative — [priv′ə tiv] adj. [L privativus < pp. of privare: see PRIVATE] 1. depriving or tending to deprive 2. characterized by a taking away or loss of some quality 3. Gram. indicating negation, absence, or loss n. Gram. a privative term or affix, as A …   English World dictionary

  • privative — (adj.) 1580s, expressing negation (as the prefixes un , a , etc.), from L. privativus denoting privation, negative, from privatus, pp. of privare (see PRIVATE (Cf. private)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • Privative — A privative, named from Latin [ [http://lysy2.archives.nd.edu/cgi bin/words.exe?privare privare] , at William Whitaker s Words.] , to deprive , is a particle that negates or inverts the value of the stem of the word. In Indo European languages… …   Wikipedia

  • privative — I. adjective Date: 14th century constituting or predicating privation or absence of a quality < non is a privative prefix > • privatively adverb II. noun Date: 1588 a privative term, expression, or proposition; also a privative prefix or suffix …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • privative — ● privatif, privative adjectif (bas latin privativus) Sur quoi une personne déterminée a un droit exclusif : Jardin privatif. Qui prive de quelque chose : Peine privative de liberté. Qui indique la privation, l absence (par exemple, le a de… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • privative — /ˈprɪvətɪv / (say privuhtiv) adjective 1. having the quality of depriving. 2. consisting in or characterised by the taking away of something, or the loss or lack of something properly present. 3. Grammar indicating negation or absence. –noun 4.… …   Australian English dictionary

  • privative — privatively, adv. /priv euh tiv/, adj. 1. causing, or tending to cause, deprivation. 2. consisting in or characterized by the taking away, loss, or lack of something. 3. Gram. indicating negation or absence. n. 4. Gram. a privative element, as a… …   Universalium

  • privative a — noun An alpha privative …   Wiktionary


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