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a combining form meaning “ten,” used in the names of metric units which are ten times the size of the unit denoted by the base word: dekaliter.
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Also especially before a vowel, dek- .
Compare deci-.

Origin of deka-

From Greek deka-, combining form of déka ten
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does deka- mean?

Deka- is a combining form used like a prefix meaning “ten.” It is primarily used in the names of metric units to indicate that the measure is ten times the size of the unit denoted by the base word.

Deka- comes from Greek déka, meaning “ten.” The related combining form deca- also means “ten”; deka- is almost exclusively used for the naming of metric units, as opposed to deca-, which is used in a variety of terms.

What are variants of deka-?

When combined with words or word elements that begin with a vowel, deka- becomes dek-, as in dekare. When combined with words or word elements that begin with a vowel, deca- becomes dec-, as in decathlon.

A related Latin-origin form is deci-, from Latin decimus, “tenth.”

Want to know more? Check out our Words That Use articles for dec-, deca-, and deci-.

Examples of deka-

One example of a technical term that features the combining form deka- is dekameter, “a unit of length equal to 10 meters.” Dekameter comes from the French décamètre, which uses the equivalent of the combining form deka-.

The form deka- means “ten,” as we have seen. While the form -meter has a variety of meanings, here it means meter, as in “the fundamental unit of length in the metric system.” Dekameter literally means “ten meters.”

What are some words that use the combining form deka-?

The following terms use the equivalent form of deka- in French.

What are some other forms that deka- may be commonly confused with?

The slang terms deke and dekko do not use the combining forms deka- or dek- to denote “ten.” Learn why dekko means “a look or glance” in British slang at our entry for the word.

Break it down!

The combining form kilo- means “thousand.” A kilogram is, therefore, “one thousand grams.” In keeping with this pattern, what is a dekagram?

British Dictionary definitions for deka-



combining form
variants of deca-
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