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de-

  1. a prefix occurring in loanwords from Latin (decide); also used to indicate privation, removal, and separation (dehumidify), negation (demerit; derange), descent (degrade; deduce), reversal (detract), intensity (decompound).Compare di-2, dis-1.
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Origin of de-

Middle English < Latin dē-, prefixal use of (preposition) from, away from, of, out of; in some words, < French < Latin dē- or dis- dis-1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for de-

de-

prefix forming verbs and verbal derivatives
  1. removal of or from something specifieddeforest; dethrone
  2. reversal of somethingdecode; decompose; desegregate
  3. departure fromdecamp
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Word Origin

from Latin, from (prep) from, away from, out of, etc. In compound words of Latin origin, de- also means away, away from (decease); down (degrade); reversal (detect); removal (defoliate); and is used intensively (devote) and pejoratively (detest)
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 de-

active word-forming element in English and in many words inherited from French and Latin, from Latin de "down, down from, from, off; concerning" (see de), also used as a prefix in Latin usually meaning "down, off, away, from among, down from," but also "down to the bottom, totally" hence "completely" (intensive or completive), which is its sense in many English words. As a Latin prefix it also had the function of undoing or reversing a verb's action, and hence it came to be used as a pure privative -- "not, do the opposite of, undo" -- which is its primary function as a living prefix in English, as in defrost (1895), defuse (1943), etc. Cf. also dis-.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

de- in Medicine

de-

pref.
  1. Do or make the opposite of; reverse:decomposition.
  2. Remove or remove from:deoxygenation.
  3. Reduce; degrade:decholesterolization.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.