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  1. a prefix occurring originally in loanwords from French and productive in English on this model, forming verbs with the general sense “to cause (a person or thing) to be in” the place, condition, or state named by the stem; more specifically, “to confine in or place on” (enshrine; enthrone; entomb); “to cause to be in” (enslave; entrust; enrich; encourage; endear); “to restrict” in the manner named by the stem, typically with the additional sense “on all sides, completely” (enwind; encircle; enclose; entwine). This prefix is also attached to verbs in order to make them transitive, or to give them a transitive marker if they are already transitive (enkindle; enliven; enshield; enface).
Also before labial consonants, em-1.
Compare be-, in-2.

Origin of en-1

Middle English < Old French < Latin in- in-2


  1. a prefix meaning “within, in,” occurring in loanwords from Greek: energy; enthusiasm.
Also before labial consonants, em-2.

Origin of en-2

< Greek (often through L); cognate with in-1, in-2
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
British Dictionary definitions for en-



prefix forming verbs and verbal derivatives
  1. (from nouns)
    1. put in or onentomb; enthrone
    2. go on or intoenplane
    3. surround or cover withenmesh
    4. furnish withempower
  2. (from adjectives and nouns) cause to be in a certain conditionenable; encourage; enrich; enslave

Word Origin

via Old French from Latin in- in- ²



prefix forming verbs and verbal derivatives
  1. in; into; insideendemic

Word Origin

from Greek (often via Latin); compare in- 1, in- ²
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for en-


assimilated to -p-, -b-, -m-, -l-, -r-, word-forming element meaning "in, into," from French and Old French en-, from Latin in- "in, into" (see in- (2)).

Also used with native elements to form verbs from nouns and adjectives, "put in or on" (encircle), also "cause to be, make" (endear), and used as an intensive (enclose). Spelling variants in French that were brought over into Middle English account for parallels such as assure/ensure/insure.


assimilated to -p-, -b-, -m-, -l-, -r-, word-forming element meaning "near, at in, on, within," from Greek en "in," cognate with Latin in (see in), and with en- (1).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

en- in Medicine


  1. In; into; within:enzootic.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

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