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«Намеренно» translates into English as "intentionally". «Преднамеренно» basically has the same meaning, but it has prefix «пред-» which is confusing. It seems redundant.

People say «с намерением» (as in "with intention"), but I haven't heard anyone say «с преднамерением».

What role does the «пред-» prefix play in the word «преднамеренно»?

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The Russian word "преднамеренно" means the action was planned beforehand and prepared for, while "намеренно" may mean either the action was improvised or decided on site as well as planned beforehand.

So "преднамеренно" is a particular case of "намеренно" when the intention arose beforehand rather than on-site.

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Prefix "Пред-" emhasizes the idea of something being done before the action was performed itself. Like "условие" and "предусловие". "Условие выполнения чего-то" - it is something you should do in order to achieve something. While "предусловие выполнения чего-то" - it is something you should do even before starting the main action, some preparations, etc.

So while "намеренный" and "преднамеренный" both mean intentional, the latter also assumes that was made not only intentially but had some "history". Like "намеренная кража из магазина" can mean that some individual saw something while being in the shop and decided to steal it, while "преднамеренная" may also imply that the individual walked in the shop already having an intention to steal something.

Similar for killing - the individual may kill someone because of doing something in the wrong way (e.g. because of a car accident), because he/she had no intention to kill, but they did something that is potentially dangerous (like a bar brawl) and the killing had happened, or because he or she wanted to kill exactly this particular person and made some preparations for this. The latter will be "преднамеренное убийство".

As the prepared and planned actions usually have more strict punishment the prosecutors are interested in proving that every time the law is breaked the individual did this with all necessary preparations, while defenсe is interested in proving that the act was an impulse or because of affect, etc. - not planned at all, or without conscious decisions made. So the word "преднамеренный" serves well for prosecutors because it emphasizes the idea of prepared action.

So it is not because "пред-" means "evil", but because it was planned or prepared.

In usual life it is rarely needed to make the precise distinction between "намеренный" and "преднамеренный", so they can be used as synonyms most of the time.

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"Преднамеренное" is used mostly in criminal and law enforcement context or, wider, is is used to describe actions the speaker assumes to be mischievous a priory. Examples: "преднамеренное убийство", "преднамеренное нанесение тяжкого вреда здоровью". Therefore, "преднамеренное" is definitely more official.

Yet, even in a legal terminology "намеренное" and "преднамеренное" co-exist in some phrases, for example, (пред)намеренное ухудшение жилищных условий.

So, basically, "намеренно" is for an act which had been taken consciously, while "преднамеренно" is for evil intentions.

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    Can "преднамеренный" be treated as "с _пред_варительным намерением", (prepared, planned _before_hands)? – Yellow Sky Dec 28 '13 at 0:31
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    See, this is the confusing part. The word itself describes some planned action, but adding «пред-», which is itself specific to something "preplanned"... well, I guess there's a similar situation in English. – user1306322 Dec 28 '13 at 1:09
  • @user1306322 "намеренно" does not mean "planned", it means "intentionally". – Anixx Dec 30 '13 at 4:08
  • @Anixx I know, right? See the first sentence in my question. – user1306322 Dec 30 '13 at 5:45
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    @user1306322 no, it is not necessarily a planned action. The action may be improvised. Regardless of the meaning of the English words, the Russian word "преднамеренно" means the action was planned beforehand and prepared for, while "намеренно" may mean the action was improvised or decided on site as well as planned beforehand. – Anixx Dec 30 '13 at 6:01
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You can think that "преднамеренно" means "planned". Because it refers to the fact that the intention existed long before the action.

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  • I know that, I was asking a different question – user1306322 Dec 28 '13 at 11:34
  • You question was "What role does the «пред-» prefix play in the word «преднамеренно»?", which I answer with "intension existed long before action" – exebook Dec 28 '13 at 11:35
  • you did not upvote or accept any answer, what is the reason for that? can I help you? – exebook Dec 28 '13 at 11:41
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For simplicity, let's look at the corresponding nouns, rather than adjectives.

Намеренный means "intentional". Преднамеренный means "premeditated". Even the connotation of "premeditated crime" maps into English perfectly.

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