Definitions

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

  • Not: unhappy.
  • Opposite of; contrary to: unrest.
  • To reverse or undo the result of a specified action: unbind.
  • To deprive of or remove a specified thing: unfrock.
  • To release, free, or remove from: unyoke.
  • Used as an intensive: unloose.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • not
  • absent, lacking, not
  • reverse, opposite
  • release, free, remove, extract.
  • Used to form temporary names of elements (such as ununbium) whose existence has been predicted, and have not yet been given a systematic name.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • An inseparable verbal prefix or particle. It is prefixed: (a) To verbs to express the contrary, and not the simple negative, of the action of the verb to which it is prefixed; as in unbend, uncoil, undo, unfold. (b) To nouns to form verbs expressing privation of the thing, quality, or state expressed by the noun, or separation from it; as in unchild, unsex. Sometimes particles and participial adjectives formed with this prefix coincide in form with compounds of the negative prefix un- (see 2d un-); as in undone (from undo), meaning unfastened, ruined; and undone (from 2d un- and done) meaning not done, not finished. Un- is sometimes used with an intensive force merely; as in unloose.
  • An inseparable prefix, or particle, signifying not; in-; non-. In- is prefixed mostly to words of Latin origin, or else to words formed by Latin suffixes; un- is of much wider application, and is attached at will to almost any adjective, or participle used adjectively, or adverb, from which it may be desired to form a corresponding negative adjective or adverb, and is also, but less freely, prefixed to nouns. Un- sometimes has merely an intensive force; as in unmerciless, unremorseless.
  • Un- is prefixed to adjectives, or to words used adjectively.
  • To adjectives, to denote the absence of the quality designated by the adjective.
  • To past particles, or to adjectives formed after the analogy of past particles, to indicate the absence of the condition or state expressed by them.

Etymologies

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

Middle English, from Old English.
Middle English, from Old English on-, alteration (influenced by un-, not) of ond-, and-, an-, against, opposing.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English un-, from Old English un- ("un-"), from Proto-Germanic *un- (“un-”), from Proto-Indo-European *n̥- (“un-, not”). Cognate with Scots un-, on- ("un-"), North Frisian ün- ("un-"), Saterland Frisian uun- ("un-"), West Frisian ûn-, on-, Dutch on- ("un-"), Low German un-, on- ("un-"), German un- ("un-"), Danish u- ("un-"), Swedish o- ("un-"), Norwegian u- ("un-"), Icelandic ó- ("un-"). Related also to Latin in-, Ancient Greek ἀ- (modern Greek α-) and Sanskrit अ- (a-).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English on-, from Old English ond-, and-. More at and-.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin ūnus.

Examples

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