Changing-It-Up (w/Prefixes) . . . .


“In the beginning it was appealing, and now it is unsettling.  It looked like a pastime, but it was actually a pathway to something that you can’t say no to anymore — and Joshua says, “Look this is the danger of looking around” . . . .

Isn’t it true — come on – come one — Isn’t it true that you would like to go back and un-see some things.  Arent’ there somethings you wish you’d never seen.  Aren’t there some things — come one — and I’m not even just talking about people — just things — some of you are driving somethings you wish you’ve never seen . . . . don’t you wish you never sat in their car — never visited their home — don’t you wish that when you saw her . . . . things we could un-see . . . . if you could go back to  just being 21 or 25 or 35 or however old you were — and just un-see itun-see himunsee her — your life may be different — in a similar way — don’t we all have some people we could un-meet . . . . I wish I had never met him . . . . I wish I had un-friended”

— Andy Stanley Right in the Eye: Good at Looking


As I was listening to Andy Stanley preach, I realized that he had caught my ears with these unique and different “un-words.”  He changed-up the way he framed the point he was making.


Now, we could make the same statements using a very predictable and typical format.

“Aren’t there some . . . .

  • places you wish you had not gone,
  • people you wish you had not met,
  • things you wish you had not done,
  • relationships you would like to have never started
  • decisions you would like to have decided differently
  • friends you would have been better to never become friends with
  • events that you attended which you now understand would have been better to never have participated in.
  • etc.”


In the typical format, the audience is almost finishing the sentence in their minds.  However, changing-up the way we say something gives variety and color to a point which we could have made in the expected and typical format.

More specifically, Andy Stanley takes the verbs — “see” “meet” “befriend” and adds the prefix to the verb.  We could adapt this and add some more “un-verbs” to the list.

Aren’t there some . . . .

  • places you wish you could un-go
  • people you wish you could un-meet
  • things you wish you could un-do
  • you related to and you would like to un-relate
  • activities you attended that you would like to un-attend
  • decisions you would like to un-decide
  • friends you wish you could un-friend.
  • events you participated in which you wish were un-participate
  • things you have seen you wish you could un-see
  • things heard and wish you could un-hear
  • you could unsee — un-see it — un-see him — un-see her


Now, let’s move to another step beyond this particular “un” example.  What is being done is the using of established “prefix meanings.”  Certain prefixes are understood to carry a certain meaning.  When added to a word, they carry-over that general meaning to that word.  Here are some of the most common prefixes . . . .

  • anti- against   /antifreeze
  • de- opposite   /defrost
  • dis- not, opposite of   /disagree
  • en, em- cause to encode   /embrace
  • fore- before   /forecast
  • in- not   /injustice,
  • in, im, il, ir- not   /injustice, impossible. ill-equipped, irresponsible
  • inter- between   /interact
  • mid- middle   /midway
  • mis- wrongly   /misfire
  • non- not   /nonsense
  • over- over   /overlook
  • pre- before   /predawn
  • re- again   /return
  • semi- half   /semicircle
  • sub- under   /submarine
  • super- above   /superstar
  • trans- across   /transport
  • un- not   /unfriendly
  • under- under   /undersea*

(dis, in-im-il-ir, un & re — composed 95% of all the prefix usage)**

Now, a speaker can use these prefixes to change-up the way he frames an idea.  By playing with a prefix, one can . . . .

  • composing a list of “un’s” or “super’s” or “under’s” etc
  • change-up a single word for grabbing the attention of an idea or concept
  • use the prefix in the stating all of the main points
  • creating a word which is part of the Big Idea, and make that Big Idea a little stickier


As stated earlier, the art of public speaking takes work.  At times a speaker may play with the phrasing of an idea only to abandon the endeavor.  It is just not gelling.  However, whether it works or not at any a particular time, it develops one’s ability to play with words for other occasions.


Well, let’s give it a try!

Let’s change-up the way we talk about a particular subject.  That is the goal!

Verbs: say  / fight / begin  / attempt / switch / substitute / plan / bury


Prefix: “re” – again

Combined: re-say / re-fight / re-begin / re-attempt / re-switch / re-substitute / re-plan / re-bury

Are there times when you had the opportunity to make a difference and to make that difference you knew that you would have had to . . . .

  • re-say it a better way, or
  • re-fight an old battle, or
  • re-begin that relationship, or
  • re-substitute a better option.


Now, there are also actual “re” words that could have been used (re-store / re-think / revise / re-visit / re-make / re-do / re-invest / re-build).  You can go to most any dictionary and look up words that start with that prefix.**

But beyond that, you can create some other words to change-it-up and . . . .

  • say it a different way
  • catch the minds and ears of the audience
  • create a different imagery / picture.


Let’s try it with nouns.  If you were preaching or teaching about . . . . spiritual gifts . . . .

God has given gifts to His children to edify the church and His people.  Some others may have this ability, but you have been given a supernatural allotment.  You have been given . . .

  • super-mercy
  • super-discernment
  • super-administration
  • super-giving
  • super-helps


How about beginning with a prefix: “Trans.”

Begin with adding “trans” to some words and then think about how that could be applied to a biblical concept and/or person.

  • trans-placement
  • trans-refer
  • trans-position
  • trans-assign
  • trans-role
  • trans-utilize
  • trans-settle
  • trans-assign
  • trans-capitalize
  • trans-replicate


God wants you to get through to the other side.  He doesn’t just move people to a different place — a different location.   Like Daniel, His aim is to not only to transport you, to transfer you, but to . . .

  • trans-position you for another task
  • trans-utilize your talents at another location
  • trans-capitalize on the talents He has given you
  • transition you to greater usefulness.



**If you have a “20,000 word dictionary” you can look up the many words that are actually words which we use, prefixed by —– “dis” – “in” – “re”  “un.”

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