Definitions for back-formation

This page provides all possible meanings and translations of the word back-formation

Princeton's WordNet

  1. back-formation(noun)

    a word invented (usually unwittingly by subtracting an affix) on the assumption that a familiar word derives from it

Wiktionary

  1. back-formation(Noun)

    The process by which a new word is formed by removing a morpheme (real or perceived) of an older word, such as the verb burgle, formed by removing -ar (perceived as a suffix forming an agent noun) from burglar.

  2. back-formation(Noun)

    A word created in this way.

    Back-formations, such as "tambour" (for "play the tambourine"), are a staple of comedic wordplay.

  3. Origin: Coined by James Murray; back + formation

Freebase

  1. Back-formation

    In etymology, back-formation is the process of creating a new lexeme, usually by removing actual or supposed affixes. The resulting neologism is called a back-formation, a term coined by James Murray in 1889. Back-formation is different from clipping – back-formation may change the part of speech or the word's meaning, whereas clipping creates shortened words from longer words, but does not change the part of speech or the meaning of the word. For example, the noun resurrection was borrowed from Latin, and the verb resurrect was then backformed hundreds of years later from it by removing the ion suffix. This segmentation of resurrection into resurrect + ion was possible because English had examples of Latinate words in the form of verb and verb+-ion pairs, such as opine/opinion. These became the pattern for many more such pairs, where a verb derived from a Latin supine stem and a noun ending in ion entered the language together, such as insert/insertion, project/projection, etc. Back-formation may be similar to the reanalyses of folk etymologies when it rests on an erroneous understanding of the morphology of the longer word. For example, the singular noun asset is a back-formation from the plural assets. However, assets is originally not a plural; it is a loan-word from Anglo-Norman asetz. The -s was reanalyzed as a plural suffix.

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