I've noticed that a lot of nouns and verbs which begin with s- + consonant denote a negative and/or opposite idea. This doesn't seem to be a feature of other Latin-derived languages. How did this come about in Italian? Is there a list of such words that I could study?

  • Maybe it is a shortening of the Latin prefix dis-? Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 12:57
  • 3
    More like from Latin ex-.
    – DaG
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 13:33
  • 6
    See here (a bit hard too find due to the not-too-friendly interface of Treccani).
    – DaG
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 13:35

1 Answer 1


From the dictionary Sapere (De Agostini) : s- derives from the prep Latin. ex.

  1. The prefix that confers meaning opposite verbs, nouns, adjectives (for example: fiorire-sfiorire; fiducia-sfiducia; contento-scontento).
  2. In the derived adjectives from nouns and in some verbs derived also from nouns, the prefix acquires value privative pejorative (for example: natura-snaturato; ragione-sragionare).
  3. In some verbs derived from nouns or by other verbs indicates away, exit, separation and the like, or suggests the idea of excess (for example: buca-sbucare; parlare-sparlare).
  4. In other verbs derived from nouns or adjectives, buy privative value or detrattivo (for example: cardine-scardinare; vecchio-svecchiare).
  5. Sometimes has intensive value (for example: gridare-sgridare).
  6. In other cases it has function only derivative (for example: doppio-sdoppiare).
  7. Sometimes represents the reduction of the prefix dis- (for example: dischiodare-schiodare).
  • Please, note that here we have the policy of answering in English to a question posted in English and in Italian to a question posted in Italian. So could you please provide a translation to English to ensure that the OP can understand your answer?
    – Charo
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 13:27
  • 1
    Oh, I'm sorry, I agree with you. Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 13:49

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