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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ to encircle
▪ to endanger
▪ to enlarge
▪ to enrich
The Collaborative International Dictionary

En- \En-\

  1. [F. en-, L. in.] A prefix signifying in or into, used in many English words, chiefly those borrowed from the French. Some English words are written indifferently with en-or in-. For ease of pronunciation it is commonly changed to em-before p, b, and m, as in employ, embody, emmew. It is sometimes used to give a causal force, as in enable, enfeeble, to cause to be, or to make, able, or feeble; and sometimes merely gives an intensive force, as in enchasten. See In-.

  2. A prefix from Gr. ? in, meaning in; as, encephalon, entomology. See In-.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

word-forming element meaning "in; into," from French and Old French en-, from Latin in- "in, into" (see in- (2)). Typically assimilated before -p-, -b-, -m-, -l-, and -r-. Latin in- became en- in French, Spanish, Portuguese, but remained in- in Italian.\n

\nAlso used with native and imported elements to form verbs from nouns and adjectives, with a sense "put in or on" (encircle), also "cause to be, make into" (endear), and used as an intensive (enclose). Spelling variants in French that were brought over into Middle English account for parallels such as ensure/ insure, and most en- words in English had at one time or another a variant in in-, and vice versa.


word-forming element meaning "near, at, in, on, within," from Greek en "in," cognate with Latin in (see in), and thus with en- (1). Typically assimilated to em- before -p-, -b-, -m-, -l-, and -r-.


pre. 1 in, into, on, onto 2 covered 3 caused 4 as an intensifier

Usage examples of "en-".

A British dry-cargo vessel had been preparing to en-ter the Maas Estuary for Rotterdam when the 0900 call was made from the Freya to Maas Control.