a prefix occurring in loanwords from Latin (decide ); also used to indicate privation, removal, and separation (dehumidify ), negation (demerit; derange ), descent (degrade; deduce ), reversal (detract ), intensity (decompound ). Compare di-2, dis-1.

Middle English < Latin dē-, prefixal use of (preposition) from, away from, of, out of; in some words, < French < Latin dē- or dis- dis-1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
prefix forming verbs and verbal derivatives
1.  removal of or from something specified: deforest; dethrone
2.  reversal of something: decode; decompose; desegregate
3.  departure from: decamp
[from Latin, from (prep) from, away from, out of, etc. In compound words of Latin origin, de- also means away, away from (decease); down (degrade); reversal (detect); removal (defoliate); and is used intensively (devote) and pejoratively (detest)]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

active prefix in English and in many words inherited from Fr. and Latin, from L. de "down, down from, from, off, concerning," also used as a prefix in Latin usually meaning "down, off, away, from among, down from," but also "down to the bottom, totally" hence "completely" (intensive
or completive), which is its sense in many English words. As a Latin prefix it also had the function of undoing or reversing a verb's action, and hence it came to be used as a pure privative -- "not" -- which is its primary function as a living prefix in English, as in defrost (1895), defuse (1943), etc. Cf. also dis-.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

de- pref.

  1. Do or make the opposite of; reverse: decomposition.

  2. Remove or remove from: deoxygenation.

  3. Reduce; degrade: decholesterolization.

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