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a prefix occurring originally in loanwords from French and productive in English on this model, forming verbs with the general sense “to cause (a person or thing) to be in” the place, condition, or state named by the stem; more specifically, “to confine in or place on” (enshrine; enthrone; entomb); “to cause to be in” (enslave; entrust; enrich; encourage; endear); “to restrict” in the manner named by the stem, typically with the additional sense “on all sides, completely” (enwind; encircle; enclose; entwine). This prefix is also attached to verbs in order to make them transitive, or to give them a transitive marker if they are already transitive (enkindle; enliven; enshield; enface).
Also, before labial consonants, em-1 .
Compare be-, in-2 .
Middle English < Old French < Latin in- in-2


a prefix meaning “within, in,” occurring in loanwords from Greek:
energy; enthusiasm.
Also, before labial consonants, em-2 .
< Greek (often through L); cognate with in-1, in-2 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for en-


(from nouns)
  1. put in or on entomb, enthrone
  2. go on or into enplane
  3. surround or cover with enmesh
  4. furnish with empower
(from adjectives and nouns) cause to be in a certain condition enable, encourage, enrich, enslave
Word Origin
via Old French from Latin in-in-²


in; into; inside endemic
Word Origin
from Greek (often via Latin); compare in-1, in-²
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for en-
prefix meaning "cause to be, make" (endear); "put in or on" (encircle); from O.Fr. en-, from L. in- "in, into." Also used as an intensive (enclose). Spelling variants in O.Fr. brought over into M.E. account for parallels such as assure/insure/ensure. Many words beginning with en- in Mod.Eng. are transparent (enforce, etc.) and etymologies can be found in listings for their stems. Words listed here include those whose unprefixed form is not an obvious word in Eng. (encroach) or whose meaning has drifted significantly (engrain).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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en- in Medicine

en- 2 or em-
In; into; within: enzootic.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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