One should never feel downtrodden when it comes to adjectives. So, if you’re ever afraid of being the one person in the room who’s a little doltish when it comes to adjectives that start with the letter D, or if you ever get dreary when other adjectives come up, just keep reading — no need for drastic measures!
As a rule, when you see words that begin with the prefix "dis" and "dys," they tend to indicate something bad. Consider the words disconnected and dysfunctional. Each carries a negative connotation. When something is disconnected, it means a connection has been broken. Likewise, when someone or something is described as dysfunctional, it means something’s abnormal.
Of course, this is not a universal rule; it’s more of a safe bet. Just know that, if you see an adjective that starts with “dis” or “dys,” a certain type of gray cloud may be headed your way.
An adjective that begins with "de" can also have a negative connotation. But, of course, that won’t be the case a hundred percent of the time. In fact, “de" is derived from Latin, meaning “off” or “from.”
So, although “de” has generally adopted a negative connotation in the English language — given its Latin roots which simply mean to be “off” or “from” something — it won’t be universally detrimental. Consider the difference between degrading and deserving.
A similar thing happens with words that start with "di," which can mean “two,” “double” or “apart,” depending on whether the word is of Latin or Greek origin. However, just because a word starts with “di” doesn’t mean it refers to two, it has to be a prefix to the word.
With an understanding of “di,” it's easy to see why divisional means “forming a partition.” However, that doesn't help anyone figure out what's going on in other adjectives, such as dinky, without the aid of context clues.
Understanding “dis,” dys,” “de,” and “di” offers a nice springboard when trying to decipher the meaning of various adjectives that start with "d."
It’s helpful to think of prefixes as inherited heirlooms. Some of them maintain their authenticity. Others lose their meaning while new ones are created. Let’s take a look at a healthy list of adjectives that begin with the letter "d."
Here are our top 20 "d" adjectives:
They weren’t all dismal, right? Isn’t it interesting to examine the English language, letter by letter? Not all "d" words are bad, not by any stretch. But it’s interesting to see how they fall on the scale of good and evil, given their propensity for prefixes such as “dis” and “dys.” Let’s keep our examination going strong, as we move into the letter E and explore a fun list of Adjectives That Start With E.