Difference Wiki

Para vs. Peri: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on December 5, 2023
"Para-" denotes alongside or beyond, often used in terms like parallel or paranormal, while "peri-" means around or surrounding, used in words like perimeter or periscope.

Key Differences

The prefix "para-" in English is used to indicate something that is alongside, beyond, or closely related to another thing. For example, "paranormal" refers to phenomena beyond the normal range of experience. In contrast, "peri-" is a prefix indicating something that is around or near something else, as in "perimeter," which means the outer boundary of an area.
"Para-" can also suggest a deviation or departure from the norm, as seen in "paradox," which is a statement that contradicts itself yet might be true. "Peri-" often relates to surrounding or enclosing, evident in "pericardium," which refers to the tissue encasing the heart.
In the medical field, "para-" is used to describe something related to or alongside, such as "parathyroid" glands, which are adjacent to the thyroid gland. On the other hand, "peri-" is used to denote something that encircles or encompasses, like "perineural," meaning around a nerve.
"Para-" can also imply protection or defense, as in "parapet," a protective wall or barrier. Conversely, "peri-" suggests an encompassing or surrounding aspect in terms of time or space, as seen in "periodic," meaning occurring at regular intervals.
The use of "para-" can indicate assisting or auxiliary functions, such as "paramedic," a person trained to assist in medical emergencies. "Peri-" can also denote proximity or closeness, as in "peripheral," which refers to the outer areas or edges.

Comparison Chart


Alongside, beyond, deviation from norm
Around, surrounding, enclosing

Usage in Language

Suggests deviation or relatedness
Indicates surrounding or encompassing

Medical Terminology

Related to or alongside (e.g., parathyroid)
Encircling or encompassing (e.g., pericardium)


Protection, assistance, or auxiliary
Encompassing in time or space

Example in Context

Paranormal, paradox, paramedic
Perimeter, periodic, peripheral

Para and Peri Definitions


Para- indicates alongside or related to.
Paralegal professionals work alongside lawyers.


Peri- means around or surrounding.
The perimeter of the park was lined with trees.


Para- can imply deviation or departure from the norm.
The book explored various paranormal activities.


Peri- is used in terms relating to encompassing aspects.
He took a peripheral glance to assess the situation.


Para- can suggest protection or defense.
The soldiers took cover behind the stone parapet.


Peri- often relates to something near or close by.
The periodic meetings helped keep the team aligned.


Para- is used in medical terms to indicate nearness or adjacency.
The parathyroid glands play a crucial role in calcium regulation.


Peri- can indicate enclosure or encompassment.
The pericardium protects the heart.


Para- may denote an assisting or auxiliary function.
Paramedics arrived quickly at the accident scene.


Peri- can suggest proximity in terms of time or space.
Perinatal care is vital for the health of mother and baby.


(historical) A former subunit of currency in several countries in the Ottoman/Turkish and Yugoslav regions.


In Persian mythology, a beautiful and benevolent supernatural being or fairy, earlier regarded as malevolent.


(Persian mythology) A sprite or supernatural being.


An imaginary being, male or female, like an elf or fairy, represented as a descendant of fallen angels, excluded from paradise till penance is accomplished.


A beautiful and graceful girl


(Persian folklore) a supernatural being descended from fallen angels and excluded from paradise until penance is done


Does peri- always mean physically surrounding?

Peri- often means physically surrounding, but can also imply proximity in time or space.

Can para- indicate assistance?

Yes, para- can indicate an assisting or auxiliary role.

Can para- imply deviation from the norm?

Yes, para- can imply a departure or deviation from what is typical.

What is an example of para- in everyday language?

"Paralegal" is an example, indicating someone who assists legally but is not a lawyer.

What does peri- mean?

Peri- means around, near, or surrounding.

Does peri- suggest protection?

Peri- more commonly suggests surrounding or encompassing rather than protection.

Is para- used in medical terms?

Yes, para- is common in medical terminology to indicate nearness or relatedness.

Is para- associated with paranormal?

Yes, "paranormal" uses para- to indicate beyond normal experiences.

Does peri- relate to periodic events?

Yes, "periodic" uses peri- to imply occurring at regular intervals.

What does para- mean?

Para- means alongside, beyond, or closely related.

Is peri- used in medical terminology?

Yes, peri- is used in medical terms to denote surrounding or enclosing structures.

Do para- and peri- have opposite meanings?

They don't have opposite meanings, but different: alongside/beyond vs. around/surrounding.

Can para- denote similarity?

Para- can suggest similarity or relatedness to something.

Can peri- imply proximity in terms of importance?

Peri- more commonly implies physical proximity or enclosure.

Does peri- appear in botanical terms?

Yes, peri- is used in botanical terms like "perianth," the outer part of a flower.

Are para- and peri- of Greek origin?

Yes, both prefixes have Greek origins.

Is peri- used in "peripheral"?

Yes, "peripheral" uses peri- to mean on the edge or outer limits.

Does para- appear in technology terms?

Yes, para- appears in terms like "parallel processing" in technology.

What is an example of peri- in everyday language?

"Perimeter" is a common example, meaning the boundary around an area.

Is para- used in the term "paradox"?

Yes, "paradox" uses para- to indicate against the expected norm.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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