Is “Pre” Necessary?

Now that there’s been a shift in power in Congress, we can expect a lot of debate about the Affordable Care Act (popularly known as “Obamacare”). It’s going to be a difficult time for me because there’s going to be a lot of talk about pre-existing conditions.

Gack. Can anyone tell me the difference between an “existing” condition and a “pre-existing condition”?

Recently I came across a newspaper article about “premade” lunches that parents can purchase for their children to take to school. What, pray tell, is the difference between a “made” lunch and a “premade” lunch?

What about “prearrange,” “preplan,” and “preregister”?

Sometimes “pre” is useful (“prepay” and “preorder” emphasize that you’re shelling out your money ahead of time). And not all repetition is bad. Because the human brain is easily distracted, it’s sometimes helpful to say things more than once: “I will not – repeat not – vote for this bill.”

But do we really need words like “precooked,” “prepackaged,” and “precut”?

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3 thoughts on “Is “Pre” Necessary?

  1. Kelly Pomeroy

    The ACA covers a condition that exists when you walk into the doctor’s office. A pre-existing condition is one you have when you sign up for coverage under the ACA.

    I like a cooked meal – as opposed, say, to a salad and a drink. I like a precooked meal even better, since I don’t have to cook it.

    Precut meat is meat that is cut when you buy it. Cut meat is meat that has been cut regardless of when or by whom.

  2. Kelly Pomeroy

    p.s. Sorry if I rained on your parade. I know you’re well aware of everything I said. I didn’t mean to be a spoiler.

  3. ballroomdancer Post author

    You absolutely didn’t rain on my parade!

    Here’s my problem: If I to to a grocery store and see a package labeled “precut meat,” I can’t see any difference from the package next to it that says “cut meat.”

    If I go to the deli counter and buy a “cooked” meal, I don’t see how that’s different from a “precooked” meal.

    If I have a heart condition when I go to the insurance office to buy insurance, that’s an existing condition. Five minutes later someone else with a heart condition comes into the same insurance – but his is “pre-existing.” What is the difference?

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