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Leave it to my friend Kelli, truly one of the smartest people I know (including scoring 800 verbal on the SAT) to seek a definitive solution. And I quote, "In my nerdy quest for a really authoritative answer, I just signed up for a free trial of the Chicago Manual of Style Online. They do indeed have a section on compound words formed with prefixes (7.85, section 4, in case anyone else cares). The examples given for "sub" are subbasement, subzero, and subcutaneous. Although the focus of the article is proper hyphenation rather than the precise linguistic meaning of "compound," I'm not about to argue with that source. (So yes, "prefix" and "unnatural" would both fall under that heading as compounds.)"
I am totally fine with being wrong. What I'm now annoyed about is that the above definition means they are teaching the definition of compound word incorrectly! Lovely. Another friend asked if it really matters. In the real world, no, I don't think it does. But if they are going to ask him on a test that determines whether or not he passes the 5th grade if the word "unnatural" is a compound word, then yes it matters!
Currently feeling: completely exasperated