From what I've seen so far, roots never end in a suffix or start with a prefix. I've reasoned that it should be that way:

  • If roots contained affixes, it would be confusing and give the impression that something smaller is the actual root.
  • Esperanto has a large alphabet and even with all prefixes and suffixes disallowed from roots, there should still be more than enough possible roots.

I won't make that assumption though. Maybe those kinds of roots do exist. I have an argument for that too:

  • Esperanto has roots based on words in other languages. If a root happened to contain an affix, it could have been easier to keep it like that as an exception rather than to come up with an entirely new root to convey that meaning.

Are there any roots that end in a suffix or start with a prefix? If so, why are they like that?


2 Answers 2


There are many, many words that could be interpreted as a different root word with an affix. Your third point is indeed the reason, that the language tends to adopt roots from other languages even if it’s at the expense of creating ambiguity. There are a few well known puns based on this:

Kial ĝirafo neniam estas sola?

Ĉar ĝi havas kolegon!

(koleg·o or kol·eg·o)

Kial oni neniam vojaĝu en remboato kun bovino?

Ĉar ĝi remaĉas!

(rem·aĉ·as or re·maĉ·as)

I think that in practice these kinds of words rarely cause a problem.


well, i remember these just from my time learning esperanto.

papero ne estas ero de papo

insekto ne estas sekto de inoj

i am sure there are more examples. i'd say they are like that because no other root would make sense

i searched the dictionary in zamenhofs unua libro for roots containing pre- or suffixes, where the word without that pre- or suffix is also a root word in the same list.

you may decide for yourself which of those are amusing or confusing

fier ekster regul

avar erar fluid gratul inter kajer koleg koler kolon kolor koron liter okaz okul okup ordon postul regul suker super

atend esting haring

ali ili oni radi

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