Home Discussion Forum What does the prefix "para" mean, paranormal, parapsychology, para"noia"...?

What does the prefix "para" mean, paranormal, parapsychology, para"noia"…?

…paramilitary, paratrooper? Invisible? It surely doesn’t mean something that doesn’t exist.
Like paranoia is sensing things on the spiritual level, we are trained to ignore.


  1. Para- (prefix): A prefix with many meanings, including: alongside of, beside, near, resembling, beyond, apart from, and abnormal.

  2. Keeping in mind that etymology isn’t the same thing as definition. Treating it as such can easily lead you to making the equivocation fallacy.
    From Ancient Greek παρά (“‘beside’”)
    1. beside, near, alongside, beyond
    2. abnormal, incorrect
    3. resembling
    4. (chemistry) In isomeric benzene derivatives, having the two substituents in opposite positions (compare ortho- and meta-.)
    While paratrooper means “parachuting trooper”, paramilitary is does refer to an organization that is structured and resembling a military.

  3. The most common use is from Greek.
    It has several similar meanings, such as “at”, “beyond”, “alongside”, “beside”.
    Another meaning, from Latin origins, is “stop” or “counter”, e.g. parachute is to stop falling.

  4. “Beside”, or “alongside” is about the closest I can offer.
    The prefix “para”, when used in “paratroop”, is merely an abbreviation of parachute trooper, and is unrelated to the rest of your question..
    When used as “paramilitary”, it means “having the appearance of”.
    In “parapsychology”, it means, or is taken to mean, above, or beyond.
    “Paranormal”, is something which exists alongside what we usually consider normal.
    It is from the Greek, para, which means beside, or beyond.


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