The extraordinary ‘X’!

ught-iron-house-letter-x-LET-X-2I thought I would try something extra different for this blog in the alphabetical list relating to grammar themes. Since there is little I can do with ‘x’ on its own, I will write about the use of the prefix ‘ex-‘ meaning ‘out of’ or ‘from’.

Firstly, the prefix -ex has been applied to a plethora of words, and the first thing you may say is that it’s present in the title of this blog at the beginning of the word ‘extraordinary’. Actually, this is not the case. The prefix for this word is ‘extra’, meaning ‘outside’ or ‘beyond’. And therefore ‘beyond ordinary’.

An excellent example of the use of the prefix ex- is in  the words explosion/explode. An explosion goes outwards while an implosion goes inwards. Another example is export where goods are sent out of a country, while import brings goods into a country from another country. You can deduce from this that the prefix im- must mean inwards or similar.

Other words that use the Latin prefix ex- include excavate, exception, excise, exclaim, extreme, exclude, exempt, exorcise and many more.

In another context, ex- has been adapted to mean ‘former’ and forms words that are often hyphenated, such as ex-wife, ex-husband, ex-president and so on. Colloquial use has even shortened this usage to simply saying ‘ex’ on its own as in My ex came over to collect his belongings. 

I guess ‘X’ marks the spot as there is a lot of literary treasure to be found in the humble ‘x’!


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