from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • Beside; near; alongside: parathyroid.
  • Beyond: paranormal.
  • Incorrect; abnormal: paresthesia.
  • Similar to; resembling: paratyphoid fever.
  • Subsidiary; assistant: paraprofessional.
  • Isomeric; polymeric: paraldehyde.
  • 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: para-aminobenzoic acid.
  • Parachute; parachutist: paratroops.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • above, beyond
  • beside, near, alongside
  • abnormal, incorrect
  • resembling
  • In isomeric benzene derivatives, having the two substituents in opposite positions (compare ortho- and meta-.)
  • Forming words relating to activities carried out with a parachute.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • A prefix signifying alongside of, beside, beyond, against, amiss; as parable, literally, a placing beside; paradox, that which is contrary to opinion; parachronism.
  • A prefix denoting: (a) Likeness, similarity, or connection, or that the substance resembles, but is distinct from, that to the name of which it is prefixed; as paraldehyde, paraconine, etc.; also, an isomeric modification. (b) Specifically: (Organ. Chem.) That two groups or radicals substituted in the benzene nucleus are opposite, or in the respective positions 1 and 4; 2 and 5; or 3 and 6, as paraxylene; paroxybenzoic acid. Cf. Ortho-, and Meta-. Also used adjectively.


Greek, from para, beside.
From parachute.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Ancient Greek παρά (para, "beside; next to, near, from; against, contrary to"). (Wiktionary)
From parachute (Wiktionary)


  • It prizes performers and bands that do a lot of avoiding themselves: obscure or reclusive or misunderstood or intransigent or semi-extant, forerunners and satellites and outsiders, the post- and pre- and para-.

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