a formal element occurring in loanwords from Latin, where it meant “away from”: abdicate; abolition.

Nearby words

  1. ab initio,
  2. ab intra,
  3. ab origine,
  4. ab ovo,
  5. ab urbe condita,
  6. ab- 1,
  7. ab.,
  8. aba,
  9. abac,
  10. abaca

Also a-, abs-.

Origin of ab-

< Latin ab (preposition and prefix) from, away, cognate with Greek apó, Sanskrit ápa, German ab, English of1, off

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for ab-




away from; off; outside of; opposite toabnormal; abaxial; aboral

Word Origin for ab-

from Latin ab away from


denoting a cgs unit of measurement in the electromagnetic systemabvolt

Word Origin for ab-

abstracted from absolute

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 ab-


word-forming element meaning "away, from, from off, down;" from Latin ab-, ab "off, away from," from PIE root *apo- (see apo-). Reduced to a- before -m-, -p-, or -v-; sometimes abs- before -c- or -t-.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper