dis- versus dys-

Someone wrote in asking what the rule is for changing dis- to dys-.

Actually, there is no rule for changing one to the other, as far as I know. Instead, the two prefixes come from different sources.

  • dis- is a Latin prefix with a number of meanings. It is by far the more common of the two prefixes.
  • dys- has its origin in the Greek prefix meaning “bad.”

Whether to use one or the other depends entirely on the word and its origin.

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