Intended for healthcare professionals

Filler When I use a word

No effect

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 15 March 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:578
  1. Jeff Aronson, clinical pharmacologist, Oxford
  1. jeffrey.aronson{at}

    To indicate “no” speechlessly, you shake your head. You might add a grimace and perhaps a grunt, such as “a-a” or “n-n.” These sounds give us prefixes and words that mean “no.”

    The Greek privative prefix “a-” (expressing negation) can be seen in words such as aplasia, asterixis, astigmatism, atresia, and (as “an-”) anaesthetic, anorexia, and carbonic anhydrase. The prefix also occurs in Sanskrit, …

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