a prefix appearing in loanwords from Greek, most often attached to verbs and verbal derivatives, with the meanings “at or to one side of, beside, side by side” (parabola; paragraph; parallel; paralysis), “beyond, past, by” (paradox; paragogue); by extension from these senses, this prefix came to designate objects or activities auxiliary to or derivative of that denoted by the base word (parody; paronomasia), and hence abnormal or defective (paranoia), a sense now common in modern scientific coinages (parageusia; paralexia). As an English prefix, para-1 may have any of these senses; it is also productive in the naming of occupational roles considered ancillary or subsidiary to roles requiring more training, or of a higher status, on such models as paramedical and paraprofessional: paralegal; paralibrarian; parapolice.
Also especially before a vowel, par-.
Origin of para-1
< Greek para-, combining form representing pará (preposition) beside, alongside of, by, beyond
Definition for para- (2 of 3)
a combining form meaning “guard against,” occurring in loanwords from French, or, via French, from Italian: parachute; parasol.
Origin of para-2
< French < Italian para, 3rd singular present of parare to prepare against, ward off < Latin parāre to prepare
Definition for para- (3 of 3)
a combining form extracted from parachute, forming compounds denoting persons or things utilizing parachutes or landed by parachute: paradrop; paradoctor; paraglider; paratrooper.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019
British Dictionary definitions for para- (1 of 2)
before a vowel par-
beside; nearparameter; parathyroid
denoting an isomer, polymer, or compound related to a specified compoundparaldehyde; paracasein
denoting the form of a diatomic substance in which the spins of the two constituent atoms are antiparallelparahydrogen Compare ortho- (def. 6)
Word Origin for para-
from Greek para (prep) alongside, beyond
British Dictionary definitions for para- (2 of 2)
indicating an object that acts as a protection against somethingparachute; parasol
Word Origin for para-
via French from Italian para-, from parare to defend, shield against, ultimately from Latin parāre to prepare
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
Medicine definitions for para-
Beside; near; alongside:paranucleus.
Similar to; resembling:paratyphoid.
A diatomic molecule in which the nuclei have opposite spin directions:parahydrogen.
Of or relating to one of three possible isomers of a benzene ring with two attached chemical groups in which the carbon atoms with attached groups are separated by two unsubstituted carbon atoms. Usually in italic:para-bromoiodobenzene.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.