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Pseudo- is an international category-neutral prefix, ultimately going back to Greek. It attaches productively to nouns to form nouns like pseudowetenschap fake science and occasionally to adjectives to form words like pseudoserieus mock serious. The general meaning with nouns is 'spurious, false, imitative', with adjectives 'falsely'.


Ultimately, pseudo- derives from the Greek verb pseudeinto lie (see Etymologiebank). Prefixes like pseudo- are independent phonological words: in nouns with pseudo-, stress is on the affix, in pseudo- adjectives, stress may vary but the prefix minimally carries a secondary accent. Syllabification respects the morphological boundary: pseudo-onderhandelingen pseudo-negotiations, occasionally with a homorganic glide [w] to avoid hiatus. The prefix competes with native prefixes such as nep- fake en namaak- fake. The prefix is also found in many internationalisms like pseudoniem pseudonym and in medical terminology (e.g. pseudokroep laryngitis subglottica.

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In various dictionaries, pseudo- is called a left part of a compound rather than a prefix (e.g. the WNT)), but Marchand (1969) treats it as a prefix.

  • Marchand, Hans1969The categories and types of present-day English word formationMünchenBeck