From Middle English non- (“not, lack of, failure to”), from Middle English non (“no, not any; not, not at all”, literally “none”), from Old English nān (“no, not any”), see none. Merged with and reinforced by Middle English non- (“not”), from Old French non- and Medieval Latin nōn (“not”), from Old Latin noinu, noinom, from ne oinom (“not one”).
- Used in the sense of no or none, to show lack of or failure to perform; or in the sense of not, to negate the meaning of the word to which it is prefixed.
- The prefix non- may be joined to a word by means of a hyphen, which is standard in British usage. In many cases, especially in American usage, non- is joined without a hyphen. (For example, nonbaseball is relatively common, but noncricket, referring to a primarily British sport, is rare.) Some non- words rarely or never use a hyphen (such as nonentity). By contrast, un- is almost always spelled without a hyphen.
- Semantically, non- suggests objective quality and logical opposition (hence ungradable), whereas un- suggests subjective quality and polar/diametric opposition (often gradable).
- Meaning "not" in phrases taken from Latin and some other languages, non is a separate word and is not hyphenated: non compos mentis, persona non grata.
- As non- is a living prefix, the list of words having the prefix non- is practically unlimited. It is particularly common in the sciences.
- Non- may be attached to nouns, verbs, adjectives or adverbs to negate their meaning.
- prevocalic form of