• Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show full table of contents

bi /bi/ is an international non-cohering category-neutral prefix of Latin origin found with bases of non-native origin (e.g. bilabiaal bilabial), especially in international sientific terms. The base meaning is two.


bi /bi/ is an international non-cohering category-neutral prefix found with bases of non-native origin, usually from scientific parlance (e.g. bilabiaal bilabial, bigamie bigamy), including chemistry (e.g. bicarbonaat bicarbonate). It derives from Latin bi(s)twice, two(Van der Sijs 2010). Many derivations with the prefix are loans. bi is a non-cohering prefix: the prefix carries (at least) secondary stress, and sometimes primary stress as in 'bí-sexueel bisexual, a typical pattern for compounds consisting of two prosodic word. If the base ends in a vowel, vowel deletion does not occur, hiatus is solved by insertion of a glide (e.g. biënnale /ˌbijɛˈnalə/ biennial, biathlon /ˈbijɑtlɔn/ biathlon). Adjectival bi- formations often double as nouns via conversion (e.g. biseksueel, bilabiaal, bilateraal), but there are also bi- nouns without a corresponding adjective, e.g. bimetaal bimetal.

[hide extra information]

bi has developed and independent use as a predicative adjective and noun meaning bisexual, as in mijn man is bi, wat nu? my husband is bisexual, what next and volgens de Vereniging Biseksualiteit hebben bi's het na de coming-out van Bianca uit Big Brother een stuk makkelijker according to the Vereniging Biseksualiteit life is considerably easier for bi(-sexuals) since the coming-out of Bianca (of Big Brother fame).

In modern chemistry terminology, bi- of Latin pedigree is being replaced by Greek di-, that is part of a paradigm mono-, di-, tri-, tetra-, penta-, hexa-, hepta-, etc.

  • Sijs, Nicoline van der2010Etymologiebank, http://etymologiebank.nl/