Prefixes are great when we want to create words with extended meaning from the root word. “Sub-” is a great prefix that we can apply to many words (like “subcategories” or “submerge”). This article will explore some good opposites to using the “sub-” prefix as well.
The preferred opposites of “sub” are “super,” “meta,” and no prefix. We can use all of these options as opposites for “sub-.” “Sub-” gets added to words when we are going to a lower level or going under something. The opposite implies going over or staying at the same level.
“Super-” is a great choice when replacing “sub-.” It’s the official and grammatical choice that works well when replacing most “sub-” words. However, it’s limited in its usage (not all “sub-” words apply).
You can use “super-” in place of “sub-” to show that something is happening at a higher level than “sub-.”
It’s great for words like this:
- Subscript – Superscript
- Subcategory – Supercategory
- Subhuman – Superhuman
As you can see, all of these options are great when “sub-” and “super-” are used with conflicting meanings.
“Super-” doesn’t apply to all situations, though. For example, it wouldn’t work here:
- Incorrect: Subjugate – Superjugate
- Incorrect: Subtext – Supertext
- Incorrect: Subliminal – Superliminal
Just because a prefix is the opposite of another doesn’t mean it can apply to every word that the original prefix applies to. If you’re stuck with a word, it would help to look it up to confirm whether it exists.
It would help to check out some examples that go over the “sub-” and “super-” usage. We’ll also do this for all the sections going forward that cover other opposite options:
- I think you’ll need to write this part in subscript to make sure that they can tell it apart from the rest of the text.
- Superscript is very important when you’re trying to write ordinal indicators. Make sure you do it next time, please.
- I think you can find that in the subcategories. Otherwise, I have no idea how you’re going to find a way to do it.
- I’m in charge of putting all the supercategories together. These usually help people navigate the workplace better.
- He’s subhuman. I don’t want to be mean, but I really don’t know how else to describe him. He’s always so disappointing.
- I love him. He’s basically a superhuman. He might not possess any powers, but he’s certainly got the charisma and spirit for it.
“Meta-” is a good choice, but it’s very limited in how it can be used. “Meta-” as a prefix means that something transcends another thing. Naturally, this makes it a good choice to replace the “sub-” prefix, which refers to being underneath something else.
“Meta-” works best when working with computers and technology. It’s a great choice that many people are familiar with when creating more technical terms like “meta categories” in documents.
Also, “meta” is usually its own word. It is not directly connected to the root word like most prefixes are. Instead, it comes before the word and leaves a space between the two to show how the meaning is changed.
- Subcategories – Meta categories
- Subtext – Metatext
We included two contradicting examples here to help you out. “Meta” is its own word when used with “categories” because it’s not an official term. It’s best to keep them separate to allow the meanings of both to be clear.
With “text” as the root word, “metatext” is one word. This is an official word, so it makes sense to include them together to show how the meaning is changed.
Again, it’s best to use this one in technical contexts.
“Meta” comes from Greek, and it means “above” or “beyond.”
- I think you’ll have more luck exploring the subcategories to find this situation.
- It’s somewhere in the meta categories. You’ll just have to spend a little more time looking for it.
- I want to know what the subfloor looks like in this building. Do you think you’d be able to give me a tour of it?
- There are a few meta floors that we’re not allowed to go to. Trust me. The manager will not like that at all.
- I’m not sure you’re allowed to talk about the subtext in his writing. He hid those messages away for a good reason.
- The metatext is the most important part of selling a novel. You need to make it clear what your story is.
“No prefix” is one of the best ways to replace “sub-.” Removing the prefix entirely is a good choice when you want to show the opposite of a word. After all, the prefix is usually added to create a different or specific meaning.
Thus, removing the prefix is probably your best chance at trying to figure out a way to have the opposite of “sub-.”
These examples should give you a better idea about this one:
- Submarine – Marine
- Subtext – Text
- Sublet – Let
As you can see, removing “sub-” allows us to remove the “lower-level” meaning that typically comes with “sub-.” In this way, we are able to make it much clearer that we’re referring to a normal level of something.
Using no prefix at all is probably the most acceptable and understandable way to use the opposite of a “sub-” word.
- I think you’ll be better off in the submarine. It sits at the bottom of the ocean for days on end.
- As interested as I am in marine life, I really don’t see the point in going out into the ocean.
- I can see from the subtext that you don’t want me here. You’ve made that loud and clear.
- The text is obvious. I don’t think it’s possible to hide a message in it.
- This is a substandard performance, to say the least. I really expected more from you, man. You’ll have to do better next time.
- It’s standard enough to do quite well. I’m glad you came to me with this. I think we can work closely with it.
“Pro-” is another choice for the opposite of “sub-.” It can work well because “pro-” as a suffix means forward or toward the front. Since “sub-” always means that something is happening behind or below, then we can use “pro-” as a different idea.
“Pro-” isn’t a common choice when replacing “sub-.” There are better ways to talk about things that might happen above or in front of something else.
Nevertheless, you might see the following overlaps:
- Subject – Project
- Subtract – Protract
Even with these examples, there really aren’t that many opposing meanings shared between the words. Most people avoid using these prefixes because they simply do not get the same results out of what “sub-” might need.
- I am going to be the main subject in these studies. Do you think you’ll be able to help me out with it?
- This is a project, and we’re going to need a few subjects to get started, so we’ll need you to find them.
- I’m not going to subtract from the situation by leaving right now. I don’t think my presence is right here anyway.
- You will protract this meeting with your attendance. We need you to speak about this issue, so make sure it counts.
- I’m going to be a subject for you, aren’t I? I knew you’d need me for something like this! I’m happy to help.
- The project is very important to me. Please find all the people around here who are going to be able to help us figure this out.
“Over” is the last prefix that can sometimes be used. It’s not common, as most people only use “over-” when they can’t think of a better word or prefix to use.
“Over” can replace “sub” to show that something is happening at a higher level than was previously stated.
- Submerge – Overmerge
Of course, “overmerge” isn’t an official word. You’ll be hard-pressed to find it listed in any official dictionaries. You will only be able to use this one informally, and that goes for any “over-” word that might replace “sub-.”
Still, since “sub-” means lower level and “over-” means above or higher level, it makes sense that there are certain words we can use to replace the original “over-.”
Again, you’ll have a hard time finding words that are grammatically correct. We only recommend using this one as a last resort. As in, if you genuinely can’t think of a better antonym, then maybe “over-” will be your only hope.
- I am exploring many subcategories to find out where the information is.
- The overcategories that I’ve navigated through here have made it easier for me to find the right folder.
- This subsection isn’t getting anywhere near as much traffic as we thought.
- The oversection is the most important part. Please make sure you’re paying attention to it.
- I think you’ll find that this is substandard. It’s not at all what I was looking for, and I’m very disappointed by your effort.
- I think you’ve hit the nail on the head! It’s overstandard, quite frankly! I’m so impressed with your ability.!
You may also like: 5 Best Words For The Opposite Of “Prefix”
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.