Please feel free to emend this if I have not described my question cogently. Though knowing little of Latin, I have exemplified with it because I have encountered it more than Ancient Greek.

For example, in Latin, in addition to their (usual) meanings as prepositions, many common prefixes ad-, com-, de-, ex-, re-, etc... serve as intensive prefixes, but for a given verb, what motivated or induced the prefix used? Was a prefix chosen randomly?

Or does each intensive prefix uniquely connote or imply an especial, particular intensification?


Not in the least random. Capio = 'I take,' becomes -cipio and teneo becomes -tineo; both have some tidy parallels with English in verb phrases and 'intensives.'

In-cipio //to take on (a new task) >begin
Re-cipio // to take back from (someone's hand) >receive.
Con-cipio // >conceive. (con- ?within)
De-cipio // >deceive (de- ?away from reality)

Retineo // hold back from > retain
Contineo // >contain (con- ?within)
Detineo detentum // >detain (de- ?away from others)

The adverb becomes intensive when it concurs with the action of the verb. So accipio (ad-cipio) accept, is an intensification because it means to take towards oneself (ad=towards) and in-undation (inundatio) is a deluge on top of (in-) a wave (unda); in-undare to overflow, to flood.

Being unable to keep up with neologisms and metasemy the only intensisifying prefix I can think of instantly is cucurri, reduplicated perfect tense of curro, -ere; implying "I ran and ran."

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