How do children learn to restrict their productivity and avoid ungrammatical utterances? The present study addresses this question by examining why some verbs are used with un- prefixation (e.g., unwrap) and others are not (e.g., *unsqueeze). Experiment 1 used a priming methodology to examine children's (3–4; 5–6) grammatical restrictions on verbal un- prefixation. To elicit production of un-prefixed verbs, test trials were preceded by a prime sentence, which described reversal actions with grammatical un- prefixed verbs (e.g., Marge folded her arms and then she unfolded them). Children then completed target sentences by describing cartoon reversal actions corresponding to (potentially) un- prefixed verbs. The younger age-group's production probability of verbs in un- form was negatively related to the frequency of the target verb in bare form (e.g., squeez/e/ed/es/ing), while the production probability of verbs in un- form for both age groups was negatively predicted by the frequency of synonyms to a verb's un- form (e.g., release/*unsqueeze). In Experiment 2, the same children rated the grammaticality of all verbs in un- form. The older age-group's grammaticality judgments were (a) positively predicted by the extent to which each verb was semantically consistent with a semantic “cryptotype” of meanings - where “cryptotype” refers to a covert category of overlapping, probabilistic meanings that are difficult to access - hypothesised to be shared by verbs which take un-, and (b) negatively predicted by the frequency of synonyms to a verb's un- form. Taken together, these experiments demonstrate that children as young as 4;0 employ pre-emption and entrenchment to restrict generalizations, and that use of a semantic cryptotype to guide judgments of overgeneralizations is also evident by age 6;0. Thus, even early developmental accounts of children's restriction of productivity must encompass a mechanism in which a verb's semantic and statistical properties interact.