“tele-” means…

Suffixes and prefixes are two important indications to infer what a certain word means. It is very effective to dissolve a word like antebellum into two parts (ante + bellum). If you know “ante” means “before” and “bellum” refers to “war” in Latin, you get to correctly infer the meaning of the word.

As is often the case with any rule, there are quite a few exceptions. Do you (non-native speakers of English) know the word “teleological”? Like it or not, most non-native speakers (including me) would focus on the first part of the word “tele” and incorrectly surmise that the word has to do with a transmission over a distance.

Power of our habits is so strong  and it dies hard. Once we think this has something to do with “a transmission over a distance”, when you see a sentence like “The complex structure of the human eye may imply a teleological origin.” you will be at a loss. (Look the word up in your dictionary, or see “Merriam-Webster’s the word of the day” just in case.)

One important example that sticking to one rule can turn out a failure.



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