Prefixes and suffixes are sets of letters that are added to the beginning or end of another word; by adding these, the meaning of the word is altered. Thus, ‘possible’ is given the opposite meaning by adding the prefix im- to the beginning of the word, creating the word ‘impossible’; by adding the suffix -less to the word ‘hope’, the opposite meaning is created (‘hopeless‘).

For years I have only really considered the prefix ‘un-‘ in a negative light. I could think of plenty of negative words created by this little prefix: unimportant, unkind, unloving, uncouth, unappreciated, unfaithful, uncomfortable, uncommunicative, to name but a few. But today, I realised that this prefix can actually convey positive things as well: think of unworried, unspoiled, unconditional, unruffled and unabashed. In some circumstances, a word with a usually negative connotation (eg unrelenting or unsung) can be positive when applied to specific situations (God’s unrelenting love or an unsung hero, for example.)

When I was younger, my grandparents would often comment on how people were categorised as ‘good ‘uns’ or ‘wrong ‘uns’, depending on their actions. (‘You don’t want to be friends with X; he’s a wrong ‘un.‘) Here, the ‘un’ is a lazy abbreviation of ‘one’, but it did make me smile as I realised that the prefix un- can indeed be classed as good as well as bad, depending on the word it qualifies! Instead of automatically shunning this prefix, I have come to see that there are indeed some ‘good uns’ I should seek to incorporate into my life! Certainly, an unhurried life with Jesus is one thing I long to have:

unhurried life… and this poster also captures my mood as I face a week of great busyness!