Learn English – Why are there multiple prefixes for the same root word


The root word I'm thinking of is comfort; two types of prefixes are applied to it, in the words discomfort and uncomfortable. Why is this?

Best Answer

Depending on the context you want to use the root word, you will have to use a different prefix to explain what you mean.

Here the definitions of both words:

dis·com·fort (ds-kmfrt) noun

  1. Mental or bodily distress.
  2. Something that disturbs one's comfort; an annoyance.

un·com·fort·a·ble (n-kmfr-t-bl, -kmft-) adj.

  1. Ill at ease; uneasy.
  2. Causing anxiety; disquieting.

Even though both words use same root word and have a very similar meaning they are not synonyms, thus you would use each in a different context.

discomfort in a sentence:

Applying hot packs or hot moist towels may help relieve discomfort.

uncomfortable in a sentence:

Most patients consider the test to be only slightly uncomfortable.