'Dis' or 'Mis': Prefix Meaning & Examples

By Shanea Patterson, updated on February 21, 2023

Many words in the English language start with the prefix ‘dis’ or ‘mis.’ You might be wondering what they mean. We’ll go over the meaning and provide some examples so that you know how to use both prefixes in your everyday writing with ease.

In short, here’s what they mean:

  • ‘Dis’ is usually added to verb root words to imply a negative meaning. It usually means not or opposite.
  • ‘Mis’ means wrong.

While they sound similar, these prefixes mean two different things. Be careful when using them, as they cannot be used interchangeably.

‘Dis’ and ‘Mis’ Prefixes

As you just learned, the prefix ‘dis’ means not or opposite. The prefix ‘mis’ means wrong.

In the next section, we’ll look at examples of words with these prefixes.

Verb Prefixes – ‘Dis’ and ‘Mis’

You might see these prefixes most commonly attached to root verbs. Let’s take a look at some examples.


  • Disagreeable
  • Dishonest
  • Disability
  • Disunify
  • Disassociation
  • Disloyal
  • Dislike
  • Discourage
  • Disobey


  • Misjudge
  • Misbehavior
  • Misdeed
  • Mismanage
  • Miscalculate
  • Misperception
  • Misremember
  • Misquote

Definition and Meaning of ‘Dis’ and ‘Mis’

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of the prefix ‘dis’ is to do the opposite of, deprive, exclude or kick out, or the absence of.

It could also mean not or completely.

The same dictionary defines the prefix ‘mis’ as badly, wrongly, unfavorably, in a suspicious manner, opposite or lack of, or not.

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce ‘Dis’ and ‘Mis’

Not sure how to pronounce these prefixes? Here’s a short guide.

  • To pronounce ‘dis’ correctly here’s the phonetic spelling: DISS
  • To pronounce ‘mis’ correctly here’s the phonetic spelling: MISS

How to Use ‘Dis’ in a Sentence

Let’s see some examples of how to use ‘dis’ as part of a word in a sentence.

  • I disagree. I think everyone should get a chance to try out the new equipment.
  • The church taught us that we should never disobey our parents.
  • My fiancé was disloyal, so I had to end our engagement. There will be no wedding.
  • I dislike this dress and every other dress I’ve seen here. Can we try another store?

How to Use ‘Mis’ in a Sentence 

Now let’s see some examples of how to use ‘mis’ as part of a word in a sentence.

  • I think I misjudged you. You actually seem like a good person.
  • I miscalculated how long it would take me to read this book.
  • Sara has mismanaged this store right into the ground. Someone needs to take over immediately.
  • Your misdeed hasn’t gone unnoticed. I’ll be talking to the principal about it.

Final Thoughts on ‘Dis’ and ‘Mis’ 

To recap, we learned that the difference is:

  • ‘Dis’ is typically added to verb root words to mean ‘not’ or ‘opposite.’
  • ‘Mis’ means wrong.

These prefixes sound similar but mean two different things. Be sure not to use them interchangeably.

If you ever get stuck on anything, you can always come back and refresh your memory. We’ve got a whole library of content dedicated to explaining confusing words and phrases you might see as you’re learning the language. Don’t be afraid to check it out.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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